You have a point-of-sale (POS) system in place. It holds your pricelist, and you can change it at any time. Employees and garment descriptions are listed, too, and you’ve taken inventory.
You’re familiar with cash reports. You’ve tallied customer counts, and may have mastered a few customer-activity reports, getting frequency and lapsed lists. What else is there?
Whether you purchased your computer system yesterday or 10 years ago, the question is valid. And the answer is simple: Starting now, you must get complete and accurate customer information, the first time every customer comes in.
Train employees to do this, remind them to do it, and demand that they do it until the process is second-nature to you and your staff alike. If you don’t, your point-of-sale (POS) system is only an expensive inventory-control assistant.
Most people buy a computer for pricing and inventory control, and it will pay for itself handsomely with those features alone. But you can find out more about what’s really going on in your business and use it to your advantage. You’ve made an investment, and it’s up to you to take control of it.
The system that serves the counter so well can also be used to promote growth. And the first step is for everyone on staff to get complete customer information, including names (spelled correctly), phone number(s), and current addresses (including city, state and ZIP code). If your system permits, get staffers to enter e-mail addresses, too.
You only need to enter the information once. It’s permanent unless you remove or update it, and customers won’t mind providing their details as long as you ask them directly and confidently.
Would you buy a car and only drive it on back roads, while competitors used the freeways? That’s what happens when you don’t take full advantage of the data in your your POS system to help streamline operations, improve management and find out who your best customers are.
To improve management, you need to know what’s right without guessing, based on relevant information. Most computer systems do an excellent job of delivering information, and they can arm you with the tools you need to make better decisions. In fact, it’s a guiding principle of my company: “Better information leads to better decisions; better decisions lead to higher profits.”
Your POS system can be used to generate revenues. You can fine-tune targeted marketing initiatives beyond a coupon or a postcard. You can cut down on waste in finding new customers. You will be able to market your operation and preserve as many dollars as possible.
There are many aspects of a marketing program a computer can’t do directly, but the information it contains can be used to direct other marketing efforts. And knowing who your customers are and having a way to contact them is the first step.
Drycleaning is an 80/20 business — 80% of ongoing revenues come in from 20% of customers. The other 80% are not your bread and butter. Which ones do you want to spend the most on keeping?
Learn about your top 20% so you can keep them with consistent retention and customer-loyalty programs. Studies confirm that it costs four to 20 more to find a new, high-value customer than it does to keep one. Why spend four times as much to replace what you already have?
If you can weave a net that keeps customers, you’ll catch them, too. Once you have the methods in place to hold onto your high-value existing customers, turn your attention to getting more like them. You can geomap top customers, or use a more refined process that studies behaviors and lifestyles to locate likely high-value customers.
But get current customers’ information first. For every drycleaner and most businesses, what happens at the start impacts how much you can pocket at the finish.