True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

What's the very best thing you can say about yourself?

Empty suitI received a call from a drycleaner in the Midwest. He complained that business was slow. He blamed the weather, the economy, and the fact that many of his customers had cut back on drycleaning.

As a result he'd been forced to make some difficult cost-cutting decisions: he's laid off a few employees, cut back on employee hours, switched to cheaper supplies, subcontracted out his repairs and alterations and his bed and table linens, offered his "better" customers 10% off all their cleaning, and instituted an energy conservation program.

But his next comment floored me: "If I could just market to the right people, I'd be OK. All I need to do is find customers who are not affected by the economy."

It was a sentiment I'd heard many times. The solution to a quality of product that's poor to mediocre, or to a quality of product that's just good enough is "better marketing."

When I suggested that he should focus on improving the quality of his product before embarking on a marketing campaign, he got annoyed. He told me that he needed an immediate fix, that improving the quality of his product would take years, that improved quality would require an investment in equipment that was too high, that improved quality would require different cleaning and pressing skills, that improved quality would require an increase in prices, that improved quality was too risky, that he wasn't sure his customers would pay for improved quality, etc., etc.

What I don't understand is this: how do you successfully market a product that's poor to mediocre or just good enough? What differentiates you from all other cleaners in your marketplace other than low prices, fast turnaround and broad smiles?

The way I see it, if your quality of product is only good enough it makes little difference if your service (smiling, attentive, uniformed customer service representatives) is exceptional, it doesn't matter if your conveniences (accounts, pickup and delivery, 24/7 pickup and drop off, etc.) are extensive, it is irrelevant if the glitz factor (recessed lighting, granite countertops, framed posters, wood hangers, etc.) is high.

Without a true quality product, what you're marketing is the equivalent of an empty suit.

How can I help you?

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