Ideas for Clients Who Save You Time

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” –Anthony G. Oettinger

Last month I met with the decision maker for a chain of dry cleaning stores. She was wary of broadcast advertising and her account executive had trouble even getting her to commit to a meeting. When she arrived she said she could only stay for thirty minutes. She wound up staying for an hour and a half, took pages of notes and now plans on spending most of her 2014 advertising budget on my client’s station. Here’s why.

In the meeting, we asked good questions and she responded with great answers. We learned that her biggest goal was to increase her regular laundered shirt business. She’s seen that side of her business decline for two reasons. One reason is the economy. Many people, including several of her former customers have decided to save money by washing and ironing their own clothes. The second reason is a more casual dress environment at the workplace. She charges $2.50 to launder and press a shirt. Her average sale for that service is $15.00. Her gross margin of profit, after the cost of labor is nearly 40 percent.

We found that the best way to convert do-it-yourselfers back into regular laundry customers was to promote the convenience of having the client wash and iron your shirts, a process that takes up to an average of 15 minutes per shirt if you do it yourself. So here is the long-term campaign strategy.

What would you do with an extra fifteen minutes every workday morning? Would getting ready for work and school be less frantic for you and your family? Would you enjoy the luxury of a few more minutes of sleep? Fifteen minutes is about the time it takes to iron a shirt. Spend that 15 minutes on something more important to you and let ______ Cleaners wash and press the shirt.

The client loves the idea. We’ll record several of her regular customers, without scripts, and let them talk about what an extra 15 minutes means to their daily routines.

The same angle works for a convenience store chain. Their best customers are cigarette smokers. Since most smokers think they might quit (or die?), instead of investing in cheaper cartons, they purchase a pack or so a day. Most smokers habitually frequent the same one or two convenience stores each day (one near work, one near home). Average daily sale after the cost of smokes, a soft drink, a paper or a magazine? $10.00 a day…times seven days because smokers do NOT take weekends off. That’s seventy bucks a week…for 50 weeks per year (two weeks vacation out of town) is $3500. Gross margin of profit, what’s left over after the cost of merchandise that the store can invest back into the business is 30%. That means that one new customer is worth over a thousand dollars a year to the convenience store.

So, how to lure a loyal customer away from his favorite place to a new convenience store? Provide him/her with a good reason for doing so. Bring up elephants in the room. “Smoking is legal, so we sell cigarettes. More brands than anybody else.” Or, “Actually, we make very little money off gasoline. We sell it as a convenience to our customers.” Or, “Ladies, you do not need to ‘hover’ in our restrooms. We constantly clean and disinfect them.”

But the bottom line people use convenience stores and pay a little bit more for the privilege is for…CONVENIENCE. You shouldn’t have to wait in line as long as you would at a grocery store. So, here’s the pitch. “When you visit us we know you don’t want a long wait. So at XXXX Stores, we’re working hard every day to diminish your time in line. In fact, at XXXX Stores, our research indicates that we save our best customers an extra 47 minutes a month by checking faster and having more clerks on duty. XXXX Stores, because we know you don’t come to us to wait in long lines.”

You can pitch the value of time to other kinds of businesses as well. Restaurants that serve lunch, PC repair, plumbing companies, think of the possibilities.