Noetic’s Marketing Leader Q&A Series highlights Tina Bagapor-O’Harrow, ZIPS Dry Cleaner’s Franchise organization VP of Marketing. ZIPS is a dry-cleaning company with an owner-operator model. Tina works with its valued franchisees, advertising agencies, and in-house team to ensure marketing and advertising efforts are most effective. As ZIPS has faced a sharp decline in customers’ ability to engage with them, Tina shares her insights on how they have adapted in this unusual climate.

Respond, recover, then re-emerge. With business whose low point represented an 80% decline, ZIPS set a three-phase effort to adapt: response, recovery, re-emergence. ZIPS is not a business that could convert to a completely online model given the inherent physicality of the service they provide. Given the dip in customer traffic and sales that started in spring 2020, ZIPS first needed to downsize staff and eliminate other variable and fixed costs to help its owner-operators manage in a dynamic new economy.

Recovery means testing and learning efforts in safety. ZIPS tested various approaches to see what customer directed approaches resonated the best. Curbside drop off, delivery, and easy drop options gave customers more low-touch solutions. Contracting with state and regional businesses in need of cleaning including fire and rescue and law enforcement presented additional opportunities. They taught ZIPS operators how to look for and pursue B-2-B opportunities.

New campaigns provided focus and relevant reasons to clean. The “Commitment to Clean” campaign helped customers understand ZIPS was taking health guidance seriously in-store and that dry cleaning kills 99% of viruses and bacteria on garments. ZIPS also promoted cleaning household items such as comforters and pillows to increase the level of safety in customer homes.

Ramping up digital and enhancing customer experience. While ZIPS could not convert completely to online, digital efforts were employed as a way to open accounts, make store selection, and text to plan ahead for drop-offs and pickups.

Innovate to re-emerge. ZIPS has launched Laundry by ZIPS, a new system-wide wash and fold service. This effort coincides with back to school, where families are encouraged to take back their time.  Creative focuses on new home working and schooling and more casual scenarios.  With constrained marketing dollars, ZIPS stood-up an in-house agency, backed primarily by PPP,  to create new sub-brands and build and deploy new campaigns.

Have a roadmap and adjust as you need. Being resilient and innovative is like riding a wave: stay in the tube, sense the changes, stay calm and focused, and make adjustments as needed. It will feel chaotic and may change quickly. Try to harness the adrenalin and navigate the ride! At the time of publication, ZIPS has been able to regain more lost ground. Still 35% off of last year’s number, they are hopeful that moving with alacrity and being open to change has helped navigate this unprecedented business interruption.  

Think about the long-term to sustain in the new reality. Leaders and marketers need to ask themselves: What models, products and needs do you have, or could you build to thrive within this constrained environment?

Learn more about ZIPS here. 

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