What’s the first thing you do when you buy a new car? You show it to everyone you know. You brag about its features. You even let people sit in it (though, of course, not drive it!) you let them sniff the ‘new car’ fragrance. You want everyone to notice it. It’s a big investment, and showing if off is half the fun.
What about your new dry cleaning machine or other fantastic investment you’ve made in your plant? It’s a built-in advertising campaign.
Positioning it Properly
When you think about buying new equipment, you consider plant layout so that work will flow as efficiently as possible. But how about considering the public relations value of your new purchase? To the general public, dry cleaning machines (as well as your other equipment) are impressive pieces of technology – that is, when they get to see them.
Where you are going to position that new machine is critical. Some proud owners have gone so far as to put new equipment in the front window with spotlights on it. This may not be very practical from a workflow standpoint, and people may be able to see the back of your dry cleaning machine from the front counter. (What does the back of your cleaning machine look like? Is it really clean enough to impress customers?)
If your new equipment is the showpiece in your plant, you need a plan to keep it looking good. Go ahead and put some spotlights on it and brag a little. Get it running well and make sure your staff is properly trained on it. Make sure they can explain why it does a better job.
Show it Off
People like to see new toys. Clean up the plant and have your staff dress up – they are walking billboards for your service. Invite customers into the back and explain how your processes work. Maybe you should have an open house. Or, better yet, have an ongoing open door policy, and every customer who shows any interest at all is invited into the back of the plant for a look.
You could also give a coupon to everyone who takes the ‘four-minute’ plant tour. Make a display to show the quality differences, such as displaying a shirt with a tail clamp mark and one without. Customers are smart enough to be able to figure things out. Give them some information and let them think about it. The customer doesn’t care if you have 31 or 39 spin disks in your filter housing. He will listen, though, if you show him how clean your solvent is.
If you impress them enough, they will brag to their friends about how good their cleaner is. You do a good job – tell them about it and let them do the rest.
Some plants run an entire ad campaign with radio and print to let people know about their new equipment. If your machine is big enough (or unique enough), you might even get some free publicity from the local media. People are especially interested in alternative solvents.
If you tell customers about your new equipment, will they just complain that your prices are going up? Perhaps, but they could also take the position that they really get their money’s worth with you. Don’t be afraid to tell them you have spent 20 or 30 or 40 thousand dollars. It shows that you are successful enough to invest in new equipment to improve your quality and safeguard their clothing investment.
Avoid Negative Advertising
Occasionally you will see a very negative ad for a cleaner who has just switched to an alternative solvent. Generally the tone of the ads should like this, “We now have XYZ solvent – if you don’t bring us your cleaning, you will die from cancer. Our competitors use per and if you go to them you will be sorry.” No one wins with negative advertising like this.
Your customer may respond by saying, “If perc is so bad why have you been using it all these years?” or “Why didn’t you warn me about this?” instead of being negative, your advertising should focus on your cleaning and the benefits of dealing with you. Your quality should be able to stand on its own merit without having to resort to bashing someone else.
You spent a lot of money on that machine. Now maximize your equipment investment by letting it give something back to you – priceless publicity and customer goodwill. And you thought you were buying a piece of equipment!