Kennebec Valley Chamber

Serving the Kennebec Valley, Maine Region

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Friday Report ~ October 23, 2015

Where We're Going We Don't Need... - As you can imagine, probably because a recent blog focused on it, I am a firm believer in looking professional at all times.  For me, that means a crisply pressed shirt, at a minimum, and suit and tie when appropriate. These things don't clean themselves. I learned my way around an iron in the service so I could certainly do it myself and my lovely wife has offered, but I determined a while ago that paying a drycleaner to do it for me was simply a more efficient use of our time.
When I started here in January, I spent some time looking for a local drycleaner to provide this service. I had some particular requirements: I wanted to be able to drop off and pick up same day (I tend to forget otherwise); I wanted a convenient location; I wanted a competitive price; and, I wanted to be able to pay with a credit card. The price aspect was easy as all of the cleaners had similar pricing. Meeting the other requirements proved to be a bit more challenging.
One option had a great location, took credit cards but was a 4 day turnaround. Another option took credit cards, had same day pick up (only one day a week) but the location was inconvenient. The remaining option had a decent location with same day service, but accepted cash only.
Being the analytical type, I decided that the location and same day service were more important so I chose the third option. Also, due to my optimistic and slightly persuasive (some say pushy) nature, I was confident that I could convince the company that the addition of the credit card machine was a great investment and would boost their business.
It's been 10 months, and I have not yet succeeded. Don't worry, I haven't given up, but this led me to look at technology and how it is used in business. Clearly, the dry cleaner does not want to pay the service charge on credit transactions. The truth, however, is that the bottom line is not always as powerful a driving factor as you may think. Personally, my use of cash is restricted to less than five times a week. One of those times, of course, is getting my dry cleaning. While I tend to shy away from using a credit/debit card for things under $5, it has certainly been known to happen. With constantly increasing ATM fees, cards and other electronic transactions are certainly the future. At some point, the dry cleaner will lose business because they do not provide this option.
Oracle recently determined that 85% of young people (18-34) own smartphones and use apps on a regular basis. I imagine the number of users in the 34-50 age group is also growing rapidly. So, what technological advancements can you embrace that will attract this group of growing young professionals? Is it online ordering from your store? Is it providing email notifications or dramatically increasing your social media presence? Is it time to consider an app for your business specifically? In 10 years or less, this group will be your bread and butter. You need to gain their loyalty now as they develop into leaders and begin families.  As many industries know, if you get a mother as a loyal customer, you will get the entire family's business.
 If you are still holding on to your belief that the old ways work best, please reconsider. Time marches on and we need to change with the times. We don't quite have all the gadgets that Marty McFly encountered when he arrived in 2015, but we are developing amazing technologies on a daily basis and you, as a business, need to consider how to leverage them to grow your customer base and boost sales. As always, if you need our help, just call (or email!).