The Buyer’s Journey

By Dennis Diaz, CLA Member posted 11-30-2017 12:12

How to Bring Back Laundry Customers Year-Round

Last year, retail sales topped $655 billion during the months of November and December, and that number is expected to grow. The end-of-year rush to spend money on friends and family is always a good time for businesses, and even the neighborhood laundromat gets some love. After all, even when you’re busy, you have to look nice when family comes to town!

This is the time of year when wallets open and money flows into businesses. Finding ways to get more sales is always essential, but in order to do so effectively, I think it’s important to take a step back from short-sighted goalsetting. We need to see how the whole process of winning a new customer works, and then we can start taking action.

Knowing how customers find you can help you gain new customers year-round. Better yet, knowing how to re-engage with new customers can be even more lucrative. So let’s talk a little bit about getting new customers and keeping old ones – and leaving you with some thoughts about how you can offer more value to your customers to build loyalty and boost your sales numbers for good.

Your Customer’s Journey

Everyone, without exception, goes through a pattern of behavior when deciding where to spend their hard-earned money. I like to refer to this pattern as a journey – the Buyer’s Journey – and I strongly believe that understanding it is essential to winning new business and keeping current customers returning. The beauty of this journey is that it applies across the board, no matter what is offered or who the recipient is.

The Buyer’s Journey is broken down into three stages. In order, they are: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. It’s likely you’ve dealt with individuals in these stages, but perhaps you just didn’t know it.

To help illustrate this process, consider an example with a typical wash-dry-fold business:

One of your long-time customers is having lunch with her friend, who laments the amount of time it takes to keep up with typical household chores, in particular her family’s laundry. Your customer tells her friend that she’s been using your services for some time now, and recommends she look into it. You now have a potential customer in the awareness phase.

After some time, your new potential customer is completely fed up with the laundry – she can’t even stand to look at it. Desperate for an option, she Googles your business and finds your website. After reading about what you do, your pricing and how fast your services are, she decides to share her email with you because you’re offering a 20 percent off coupon. She is now in the consideration phase.

Another week passes, and after browsing around for other services like yours, she’s finally come to the decision phase. She finds the coupon you emailed her in her inbox, and decides to drop off her clothes, completing the Buyer’s Journey.

This journey is a golden opportunity for you as a business owner to increase the value you provide to your customers. It fits perfectly into word-of-mouth examples like above, or dedicated digital marketing campaigns.

Understanding this window into the minds of customers in useful in any sales situation, for any type of business. The process is virtually the same for a busy young professional who needs pickup and delivery as it is for a laundry owner who needs to update her store’s equipment. We are all in some phase of the Buyer’s Journey in some way, even if we don’t know it.

Enhancing your business’ position – both physically and digitally – to make this journey easier is a goal that any business would do well to emphasize this coming year. Unless there’s some unexpected change to the way we all think and act, this journey is unlikely to see any alterations in the near future.

Re-Engaging with New Customers

You have new customers that have gone through the Buyer’s Journey, but how do you keep them coming back? One of the biggest downfalls with many businesses each New Year is a failure to re-engage with new customers. New customer acquisition is extraordinarily high during the final quarter of the year due to holiday spending (that $655 billion we talked about earlier), but many of those new customers never return.

Recent statistics show that the cost of gaining a new customer is at least five times greater – and sometimes up to 20 times greater – than retaining an old one. It’s also estimated that properly utilized customer retention strategies could net a 25 percent increase in profits for a business. So it’s important to re-engage, and to do so quickly. Re-engaging with your customers is an opportunity to increase the value you provide your customers. But how do you gain their attention in order to keep people coming back after the holidays?

Timing is the key. No matter your customer or lead – the longer you wait to reach out, the greater your risk of losing out on more business. Some of that new business may be out-of-town visitors, but it’s more likely that your customers decided to spread some love using a gift card from your store, or a busy parent decided his or her holiday event schedule left no time to do laundry and used your business instead. These are the individuals whose contact information is precious, and who you need to target during that critical post-holiday window.

Make sure to put an emphasis on capturing contact information with landing pages or in-store specials. Use evergreen content offers on your website to help push people from consideration to decision, and then bring them back with other offers down the line. Position your value in such a way that people can see your laundry business as a year-round option, not just a holiday backup plan.

The Laundry Journey

Everyone relies on customers finding them and then returning for more business when the need arises. Whether you’re planning a digital campaign or simply trying to get the word around the neighborhood, your customer’s journey – and how you proceed at the end of it – needs to be top of mind.

Like any other industry, ours centers on relationships, and those relationships make the Buyer’s Journey and re-engagement that much more important. The trust between a busy mom and a local pickup-and-delivery service is the same as the trust between a laundry owner and an equipment distributor. No matter what level you’re on, it all relies on a similar path from conversation to conclusion.