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Using design, color and lighting to woo customers

(Philippine Daily Inquirer) Looks do count in almost all kinds of retail business, according to avid franchisor Caloy Ang, whose Suds Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services has grown from two stores in 2009 to 22 as of today and counting.

The rare laundry enterprise that includes visual merchandising as one of the services it offers franchisees, Suds thrives on its attractive store front which prominently displays its distinctive orange logo. In fact, 90 percent of Suds clients are walk-ins, Ang estimates.

He cites studies by psychologists that reveal that 83 percent of human information is achieved from a potential client’s sense of sight. Consequently, shouldn’t a business, especially one that thrives on walk-ins, invest in store presentation, he asks.

Especially in industries that count many players, visual merchandising can spell a difference. Suds uses design, color and lighting to woo customers into its newly opened stores. Unlike the signages of other laundry shops which display blue logos, Suds’ is in orange and highlights a bubble. The same orange logo is repeated inside the store in the reception area and even in the ceiling.

Orange, which evokes passion and dynamism, is contrasted by the rest of the store in white, which represents the “clean open character of the store,” comments Ivy Crisostomo, Suds’ interior design consultant. To give the store a contemporary twist, the firm also uses grey to coat the base of a curvy reception counter. “We picked a curvilinear form because it’s welcoming and visually engaging,” she says.

Moreover, lighting inside the store is warm and inviting, especially at night when most customers come, says Ang. To ensure efficient service, every piece of laundry is inspected and itemized in a Suds service order form before it is weighed.

A transaction can thus take from five to 10 minutes, an experience that is enhanced by air conditioning—still another factor that differentiates Suds from other shops that usually depend on electric fans for ventilation.

What hooks the new Suds client to the brand, nevertheless, are its the top-of-the-line washers and dryers visible through a glass wall that separates the reception area from the back of the house where laundry is processed. “Our machines illustrate to our clients that we take care of their clothes,” says Ang. “So we showcase them.”

Following this first encounter with Suds, a client is likely to come back again and again because of its consistent service and unique system for tracking clients’ clothes that ensures on time delivery per specs. The same system ensures that each item is tracked and unlikely to be misplaced. Lost items, after all, are the bane of all laundry operators.

Caloy, who was a reliability engineer for Intel, also points out that he and wife Charmaine have taken courses on detergents and other cleaning solutions as well as the fabrics favored by customers. “We’re way past the hit-or-miss chemistry phase which results in damaged clothes,” he says. “We’re also proving that our brand can offer better service at competitive prices.”

In fact, Suds is ready to replicate its operations in Cebu and Davao where pricing will be a key factor in attracting repeat clients, the heart of the laundry business.

Read more: http://business.inquirer.net/174577/using-design-color-and-lighting-to-woo-customers