It’s no secret. The dry-cleaning industry is evolving. The percentage of people who’ve never used dry-cleaning, for example, continues to grow. Meanwhile, the number of infrequent users (once every three months) is dropping.
Owners need to accept the fact that the state of the dry-cleaning industry isn’t as rosy as it once was. To survive, they also need to find new ways to not only produce a quality garment but also show the customers the value of their services.
Dry-cleaners that fail to do this may survive through attrition, but they won’t prosperous. Survival through attrition doesn’t guarantee profitability. Dry-cleaners that fail to find new strategies to prosper in the future will eventually go out of business.
Factors Affecting the Industry’s State
Numerous factors are impacting today’s dry-cleaning industry. Some are obvious. Others aren’t. Whatever the case, these elements are out of reach for dry cleaners looking to change. Below are six of these factors:
• Clothing manufactures making fewer and fewer garments that feature the “Dry Clean only” label.
• Manufacturers are developing “memory-sensitive” fabrics to eliminate wrinkles in home laundering.
• Lower-priced clothing means dry-cleaning’s cost looks more expensive compared to the cost of replacing the garment.
• Many home dryers now have a “steam” cycle to improve a garment’s appearance without ironing.
• The growing acceptance of casual clothing in the workplace is here to stay.
• The drop in the number of smokers means that fewer and fewer will need their clothes dry cleaned after being in smoke-filled rooms.
While these aren’t the only ones affecting the industry, they’re among the most prominent—and most critical.
8 Proven Strategies to Survive and Thrive
Dry cleaning revenues nationwide are expected to be $8.7 billion by 2021, down from over $9.0 billion. But given the industry’s state, it’s clear today’s dry-cleaners must find new strategies to survive and thrive in the future.
Below we look at some of the proven strategies to boost sales and profitability at your storefront:
1. Add laundry services
Some dry cleaners are offering laundry services beyond the usual formal wear as a way to generate additional revenues. Others are offering cleaning rugs and home cleaning, touting their environmental services or making drop off and pick up more convenient.
2. Boost operational efficiency
Automating processes, like installing a POS software system, helps increase operational efficiency. You can then pass on the savings onto customers, similar to what restaurants and other retailers are doing. It’s one way to cut the taxes on dry cleaning services that in some states are considering.
3. Add programs to stay relevant
Another strategy is introducing programs designed to remain relevant with customers. Using a POS software system with the right features, for example, you can add a loyalty point reward program as an incentive for customers to return. Or, you can send emails after transactions so customers can rate your service.
4. Rework employee schedules
Making changes to counter service schedules can help generate additional revenues. Scheduling your best and most personal employees at the busiest times, like in the afternoons, is one way to do it. Customers coming in the afternoon are often more relaxed and more casual, giving employees time to connect.
5. Use social media to promote yourself
Social media is a great marketing tool. Use it to familiarize customers in your area with you and your services. One in every eight people uses Facebook every day, with 53% logging in daily. In addition, 58% of them communicate more online than face to face. Use these trends to your advantage.
6. Focus on ways to gain new customers
Cutting costs can help you “save” your way to profitability. But that strategy is a challenge to implement. It’s better to focus on generating new customers. One dry-cleaner looked at its “curb appeal.” Its awning and signage were outdated. It modernized its awning signage, updated the store, and increased business.
7. Keep print media in mind
Print still has value. Research shows that you can make an emotional appeal and a connection when people see something in print. But think out of the box when doing it. One dry cleaner used the USPS’s Every Day Direct Mail to tell its story to customers. Dry cleaners using this approach have boosted business from 2% to 31%.
8. Try guerrilla marketing tactics
Guerrilla marketing uses unconventional ways to promote businesses. It’s ideal for companies with limited budgets. One dry cleaner sponsored “Free Pants Wednesday” in August. In the third year of doing this, the company boosted revenue by 57.3% and opened 252 new accounts.
To implement these strategies effectively, however, you need to change the way you look at things. Then change the things you look at. Focus on communicating to customers the value they offer.