For any drycleaner starting out, developing a regular clientele is always the first priority, but having done that, and when there are plans to expand the business, operators will need to attract new customers. They may also consider providing some ancillary services, too. Paulyne Antoniou offers advice on how achieve your expansion goals


Growing your customer base

Before considering expansion, always research your potential market so you can target your marketing effort to the right audience.

Estimate what volume of growth each of the sources you identify is likely to generate. This will help you to put any necessary resources in place and avoid the risk of promising to meet needs you cannot fulfil.

You may be able to free up extra capacity by operating more efficiently, which will in turn give you enough headroom to push for new customers.

Are you active on social media? Any small business should be thinking of establishing a presence on social media to connect with the existing customer base and as a potential source of new customers.

How does your website look? Prospective customers searching for drycleaning services will do online. That means their decision about using your business will be influenced by the look of your website.

So, it’s worth carefully testing and fine-tuning to optimise your chances of acquiring new customers. An effective site must be well designed, welcoming, up to date and user-friendly.


Enhancing your services

Your first option for gradual expansion is to enhance the services on your roster already. Firstly, offering discounts and promotions which will appeal to different customer groups.

While this may encourage existing customers to use your services more frequently, it will also serve to market your facilities to new customers who, according to your data, will be equally likely to have an interest in using your business.

Many businesses offer in-house tracking facilities to maximise process efficiency, safeguard customer property and offer their customers real-time feedback on the progress of their order.

Customers are much more likely to choose your services if they know they can access you conveniently via their preferred channel of communication.

Some may walk in with their requests and enquiries, while others may prefer to use the telephone, or make contact via text, e-mail or mobile app services. Your ability to offer two-way contact via a preferred communication channel is a sure way to gain new customers.


Additional services

When you are ready to fully expand, always take a careful look at what your competitors are doing.

This will help you identify what you could do faster, better, or cheaper, and also indicate any gaps in the market where you could offer new, niche services to grow your business.

For instance, could you offer an ironing facility? A drop off service, or a special one-hour turnaround offer?

And if you could provide a wetcleaning option too, that would be sure to attract a whole new type of customer to your business.

Whatever services you decide to add to your existing facility, always make sure you can deliver on any promises you make. Otherwise, letting down your customers will quickly erode any advantage you hope to gain from your business expansion.


The chain option

Once your business is established and running efficiently, you may wish to consider opening new premises in a different location. Of course, this is a larger investment, but it would allow you to find new customers and make more profit using your tried and tested business model.

But remember that following this route to expand your brand will take just as much due diligence and preparation as starting a business from scratch. It’s important to make sure you have enough resources available to continue running your current business alongside setting up your new venture.

Customers may cut back on buying new clothes, but they will still need to clean and care for their existing garments.

Any expansion of your drycleaning business must always be carefully researched before you commit time and money to a new project.

Paulyne Antoniou, a digital content manager, has produced regular videos and editorial for many years with small businesses, franchises and industry professionals for titles in the Dynamis Stable including, and