Find Out The ONLY 2 Ways To Build A Concentrated Residential Route!

Mon, Mar 14, 2016

Advertising, Dry Cleaning Marketing

There are many, many ways to get route customers. There’s your website, PPC, blogging, flyers, mailers, referral programs, your van, coupons, converting at the counter, newspaper, radio, TV, Cable, door hangers, telemarketing (in some parts of the country), newsletter, celebrity endorsement, ValPak (shared mailings), EDDM, new mover mailers, sell a coupon book, fundraising, postcards, post-it’s, bag drops and door knocking.

All of the above methods will get you route customers if done correctly, the last two—bag dropping and door knocking—will give you the concentrated residential route you’ve always dreamed of.

The bag I used for bag dropping.

The bag I used for bag dropping.

Lets talk about bag dropping first: I’m not talking about dropping off a bag and then following up with a knock at their door (that’s door knocking), I’m talking about dropping off one of your printed garment bags with a sales letter and order form attached. And then following up with a post-it note 3 or 4 times to get a bunch of customers and the majority of your bags back. That’s a PURE bag drop and the kind that I teach.

When I started my dry cleaning delivery business back in 1996, I got my first 300+ customers by knocking on doors. All you need to get started is a good presentation and the intestinal fortitude to go out and face rejection.

During the early afternoon, I would find the retirees and the people that didn’t do much dry cleaning too. But my best candidates where the homes where no one was home. I suspected that both spouses were working and they both used dry cleaning and that’s why no one was home.

At night from about 5:30-8:30 would be my prime door knocking time. I didn’t want to waste it on prospects that didn’t do any dry cleaning, so I weeded them out during the afternoon. My job at night was to go knock on the “not home’s” from that afternoon.

I would get 3-5 news customers every night using this method. My record was 28 new customers in one week. Most weeks I would get 15+ new route customers. I’d go out Monday through Thursday. I tried going out on Saturday’s without much success. Most of them were out running their kids around to sporting events.

And then I discovered bag drops. I was tired of going out at night and missing time with my kids, so I stared experimenting with bag drops. I didn’t want to go out and knock on doors and wanted to come up with something that would get me concentrated route customers like door knocking did.

It was a bigger chore to figure out than I thought. It took me 18 months of trial and error to get it to a point that was very profitable.

I ended up with a 4-page sales letter and an order form with testimonials on the back.

I tried doing the bag drops with plastic bags. I tried it with counter bags with no printing—the ones you could buy cheap. I tried following up with letters sent through the post office. I tried “percentage off” offers. I tried “dollar off” offers. I tried FREE dry cleaning offers. I tried dropping in all kinds of neighborhoods. All of this took me 18 months to figure out.

After 18 months I was consistently getting 5 brand new route customers with every 100 bags I dropped. I used garment bags with my logo and followed up with post-it notes and ended up getting 70% of my bags back.

A $10 FREE Dry Cleaning offer worked better than 50% off and it also worked better than $50 in free dry cleaning. I tried a bunch of percentage off offers and tried giving $50 dollars, $40 dollars, $30 dollars and $20 dollars off. $10 worked the best. Go figure!

I tried 17 different headlines on my bag drop letter before I found the “Holy Grail” of bag drop headlines. It was a lot of work. I almost gave up several times even through I came from a direct response advertising background. It was the hardest direct response nut I’ve ever had to crack.


Do one. Do both. Do something now! I can help.

I’d love your comments below.

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7 Responses to “Find Out The ONLY 2 Ways To Build A Concentrated Residential Route!”

  1. Mark kaiz Says:

    I’m buying this cleaners. They had routes in the past but they faded out when the drivers moved on to other cleaners that paired better or circumstances (marriage) led to the driver leaving, thereby pulling the manager away from his duties to drive the routes. Do you have suggestions how a structure can be build that allows for multiple drivers to share a route so there is a back up plan. Thank you for any help you can offer.

  2. shawn nippard Says:

    Hi Greg,

    Wanted to follow up with you when you get a chance. Rob was kind enough to talk with myself about your program.


  3. Chris Says:

    Thanks for your article. I have a question about the post-it note follow up.

    I don’t quite understand. You drop off a bag with an order form and information on how to get started. Then you follow up with post it notes if they didn’t respond? Are they reminders? Then do you ask them to leave the bag on the doorstep so you can take it back if they don’t want it?


  4. Mike Lee Says:

    Hey Greg!
    I just started my pickup and delivery service and started to do bag drops. I went a slightly different route. I made postcard ads and business cards with vistaprint and put in customer information and a price sheet with a valet plastic laundry bag to start and put them all in a clear door hanger bag. The postcard has a “20% off on first order” deal with information on the business and how it works. After I ordered them, I stumbled onto your site and saw the $10 offer… Yay. Just started to distribute them 2 days ago to concentrated median to high housing complexes and libraries. I delivered them to only a few houses in each complex just to get a feel for each neighborhood and their reaction to this type of solicitation. So far, I haven’t received any calls. I am wondering if there is something wrong with the adverts or am I being too hasty. I tried looking up laws in bag dropping and I know roughly the rules and regulations of it. My website so far is a mess as I am creating it on my own but it is coming along. Need I mention, the business has started on a tight budget so the work is being self done. Any input would be very helpful. Thanks Greg.
    -Mike, Timeless DC

  5. Greg Says:

    Hey Mike. It took me 18 months and 17 different versions of the bag drop sales letter (5 pages long) to get it to a point that it was very profitable. This is a science of testing and testing and testing some more. I come from a direct marketing background and it was challenging for me. Email me at and I’ll fill you in some more. Greg

  6. Greg Says:

    Chris: the post-it note does two things; first it is a reminder that you can still put your garment bag out full of dirty clothes and secondly, if not sign up, they can give you your bag back. At $2.50 each, you want as many as you can get back. If you do it right, you should get back 70%+ back. More if you follow one or two more times. Let me know how you’re making out. Greg

  7. Greg Says:

    Hey Mark: This is what I and my members do; We hire part-time retired folks. John and Jerry share a van. John drives on Mondays and Tuesdays. Jerry drives on Thursdays and Friday. Each know the others route. So sick and vacation time is covered. I learned this from David Whitehurst of Champion Cleaners in Birmingham, AL. David was my first member in November 2007. I call my clients…members. Hope this helped. Greg

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