Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bullseye on Their Back; Taking down the Old Guard

How to make money when the Competition uses Bleach

The bleach controversy has the Old Guard in a panic. The latest round of posturing brings to mind Shakespeare:

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
Hamlet Act 3, scene 2

Sometimes when they are trying to dodge the truth the best thing they could do is just shut up.  Recent activity by the Bleach lobby hammered that home.  First there was a vigorous defense of Bleaching on MikeysBoard by Robert Mann and then he headed an industry Panel Discussion at a Trade Show.  Now Aaron Groseclose has penned an absolutely ridiculous article in a Trade Magazine in defense of wanton and reckless Bleaching.  That leaves the old guard, the Power Elite huddled behind their champions convinced that they are right and safe and proper. What they do not realize is that every time they call attention to the Bleach Controversy they call more attention to the Bulls Eye painted on their back.  

What they fail to realize is that Bleach is a loser issue.  If you are a Bleacher no one is ever going to give you business just because you bleach. You might get their business despite being a bleacher but it is not a selling point that brings in the business. The flipside is that Cleaners who take the No Chlorine Bleach Do No Harm promise can beat the big old established Bleach shop all day long with the Bleach cudgel.

If I were handling the marketing for a “Do No Harm” Cleaner in a big market like Denver, Dallas or San Diego I would be all over the No Chlorine Bleach pledge. You don’t even have to accuse the Power Elite cleaner in your market of being a Bleacher. Just by saying you don’t implies that they do.  So if I were in Denver I would never accuse Robert Mann of being a Bleacher. I would just say I promise to never use Chlorine Bleach on a rug without the owner’s permission and if a customer asked if Robert Mann bleaches I would say "You have to ask him". I might slip in a “Wink Wink” but you don’t need to. As long as Robert's competition treat him as an honored and revered senior statesman of the industry they play into his hands. If someone wants to really cash in in the Denver market they need to go after Robert hard. The key is that he is on the wrong side of bleach. If a good cleaner will stand up for what is Good, Right and True and Best for the customer they will take a big chunk out of the Denver pie. YOU WILL DO WELL IF YOU DO GOOD! 

It is not about putting the Power Elite out of business it is about stripping off some of their market share. If you were going up against a prestige Cleaner like Amirkhan’s in Dallas if you converted a small percentage of their customers to your business it would be incredibly profitable for a small newer start-up boutique cleaner.   You will have lower overhead and can actually charge a lot more. Does that mean that Amirkhan’s uses Chlorine Bleach on customer’s rugs without their permission?  I have no idea and it really doesn’t matter. This will work right up until they publically take the No Chlorine Bleach Do No Harm promise.

Why is Chlorine Bleach such a loser issue?

Men don’t get the Chlorine Bleach issue like women do. Women are more likely to know how destructive Chlorine Bleach is in the laundry and they know what even milder bleach will do to a woman’s hair. In testing by the Academy of Oriental Rugs woman react very positively to the No Chlorine Bleach pledge. We have never seen even one instance of where a woman customer ever says “No, I want to find a Chlorine Bleach shop”. Men generally get it when you explain how destructive it is but woman get it immediately.

What about the Blue Tub Washers?

In cases where a Do No Harm cleaner competes with a Blue Tub washer we see that very quickly the Tub Washer stops talking up their tub. One well known Do No Harm cleaner went public with the pledge and experienced a 300% increase in business going head to head with a Blue Tub shop.

What if you occasionally use Chlorine Bleach?

Explain the extreme circumstances in the pre-inspection and get a customer sign-off. The real issue is using Chlorine without telling the customer.  With a sign-off beach is OK. But the facts are that few Moore Plant or Blue Tub shops will ever admit how often they bleach.