PAGE 44 / NATIONAL CLOTHESLINE / JUNE, 2019 SHIRTTALES BY DONDESROSIERS What your customers can teach you I have had a particularly rough last few days of trav- eling. On the way to the air- port this morning, I had that on my mind. Most of the issues that I had don’t really have anything to do with the airline, but are a byproduct of air travel. Nonetheless, because I travel as much as I do, I have become a very regular customer at sev- eral travel-related businesses. The fact that I am a regular customer at these places that I will name is what I want to talk about today. When you have a regular customer, you get to know him or her. You call them by name. You may go up to the call office and chat with them when they come in. You may give them special privileges or discounts. You may send them a Thank You gift at the end of the year. All very nice gestures that are part of maintaining a spe- cial relationship with cus- tomers that hold you in a high enough regard to give their business exclusively to you while forsaking all others. Excellent. But what happens when a good customer be- comes an ex-customer? Do you know about it? Did you catch it in time? Did you bother to learn why this “whale” or “big tuna” stopped patronizing you? Database mining is the key to this and while I am not the most qualified person to dis- cuss how you should go about mining your customer data- base because I am not an ex- pert on your POS, nor am I an expert on marketing, in some regard I am the most qualified person to explain the impor- tance of learning about your customers because I am a cus- tomer at many places. I really enjoy learning about other businesses. How they market, how they earn cus- tomers, how they make money. In my opinion however, there is a common denomina- tor and that is customer serv- ice. Nothing more, nothing less. Whether you are an airline, a travel agent, a drycleaner or a local hamburger joint, you must know what your cus- tomers think and what they think about you. You must know what they want. Often we try to avoid this fact-finding step by trying to offer the customers everything. I once read a sign in a drycleaners shop that said “We specialize in Drycleaning, Shirts, Leathers, Suedes, Shoe Repair, Tailoring and Alter- ations.” Perhaps a check with Web- ster regarding the definition of the word “specialize” is in or- der. This is an attempt to be all things to all people. This is merely a list of services offered rather than true specialties. Often the case is that only standard service and quality is offered in all categories. Jack of all trades, master of none. But I digress. Certainly an education about the wants and needs of a customer is in order rather than an educated wild guess about those wants and needs. I have a few examples to share with you. They have nothing to do with the shirt business. There is a good rea- son for this. I guess that I am a “big tuna” at my drycleaner. But I suppose that I am not the only “big tuna” at this cleaner. If I stopped going there, I would expect that the owner would call me or write me and want to know what’s up. There are a number of good reasons why you will lose dozens of customers this year: moved away (I moved away from my previous drycleaner’s area), passed away, changed jobs, lost job, etc. Those are part of being in business. But suppose that you lose customers because you press a lousy shirt? Or your orders are consistently late? Or you smash buttons? Or you can’t get collars clean? Or you lose shirts and miss-assemble or- ders? Will you still concentrate on adding new “specialties?” Will you still think that you should lower your shirt price to attract new customers? If you know what your cus- tomers think, you will make far more educated business de- cisions because you will be in- formed. Adding shoe repair, for example, is nonsensical if you cannot provide good qual- ity and proper service for the services that you and your cus- tomers expect you to provide. So, the idea is to learn from your customers. POS database mining is probably the most ef- fective way to do that. When you go to the Clean Show this month, there will be many to choose from. I am not qualified to recommend one, nor am I qualified to show you how to extract information from the one that you may al- ready have. But it is most im- portant that you use your POS for more than a glorified cash register. I am a good customer at nu- merous businesses and I am an ex-good customer at many. I believe that it is unethical to continue to support a business that does not care about my wants and needs. Continuing to do so, in my mind, is sort of endorsing their carelessness. I think that many people feel that way, but may not have Continued on page 46 To learn more, see the Index of Advertisers on page 50 or visit www.natclo.com/ads What happens when a good customer becomes an ex-customer? Do you know about it? Did you catch it in time? Did you bother to learn why? CRAZY CLEANERZ in Cordova,TN, purchased four Union HP860 cleaning machines through Cates Maintenance Co. Pictured from left are Vic Williams, eastern sales manager for Union USA, Kevin Burditt, GreenEarth technical representa- tive, Andy Lien, GreenEarth technical director, William Cates, owner of Cates Maintenance, and Shaine Burns, owner of Crazy Cleanerz.