My business is in its 95th year of operation.For years our customer base was filled with thenext generation of families that had loyallyused us. It was common for a customer to relate how their parents and even grandparents always brought their clothes to us. As to these customers we were already the cleaner of choice with positive reviews.
Lately, however, I am noticing a group of customers who are using a drycleaner for the first time. In the phone call I received on Saturday as I was closing a woman said her son had to get his band uniform cleaned — “It is our first time; how does it work?” she asked.
From the drycleaner’s perspective there are hurdles to clear to gain this customer’s confidence. It is the perfect time for customer education.
Customer education is more than just advertising or marketing. Customer education is taking the time to explain to customers how their garments will be processed and cared for. It can include examining garments with the customer.
You, as the clothing care expert, should be noting characteristics, concerns and/or limitations. The goal is to produce a confident, well-informed customer with reasonable expectations. Here are a few rules I use in these situations:
Be Personable— Now is the time to establish a positive rapport. Try to make the trip to the drycleaner a pleasant one. You want the customer to view the visit as a social call rather than an errand.
Do Not Over-Promise At The Counter— We all want business but it is better to over-deliver than ask for forgiveness. Establish a level of reasonableness and stick with it. There will always be customers who want you to absolve them of irresponsible acts. You provide a service to the best of your ability.You are not an indentured servant.
Be Honest And Practical With The Customer— I have turned items away when the cost of cleaning exceeded the value of the item. There are exceptions when a customer attributes nostalgic or sentimental value to an item. Remember, unless orders are prepaid, what is hanging on your conveyor is unrealized income but realized expense.
I have found that by following these rules the payoff fromcustomers is trust, loyalty and the absence of conflict.
George (Steve) Stevenson
...from the Board
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Differential shrinkage occurs when only certain sets of yarns shrink on a garment creating a puckered appearance. Differential shrinkage can exist in fabrics constructed of yarns different in tension, twist, or fiber type. Very often, the differential shrinkage is severe enough to create a ripples or puckered appearance on the entire fabric.
The drycleaning process is a total immersion process and cannot create shrinkage in only certain sets of yarns. Differential shrinkage can be controlled only by better stabilization processes during manufacturing. Shrinkage of this type occurs when the yarn has not been properly stabilized or preshrunk before the fabric is woven. Such shrinkage is often progressive and may not be noticeable until after several cleanings. However, in some instances, shrinkage will occur during the initial cleaning.
Reprinted with permission of DLI