Steve Thompson, owner of Sand Dollar Cleaners in Arlington, is facing challenges and creating opportunities, like most business owners dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are not going to sit back and whine about what is. We are going to take as much positive action as we can and be aggressive in our marketing and try to do what we can to help folks through this time and in the process help ourselves,” Thompson said of his business and four employees.
Thompson opened Sand Dollar Cleaners at 2160 University Blvd. N. in June 1996.
He took over the old Derby House restaurant property that had fallen into use as a crack house, he said.
Sand Dollar offers dry cleaning, shirt laundry and other services.
Even though his business is designated as essential by the city, customers who now work from home are not wearing their normal business attire, which cuts back on the need for dry cleaning.
Thompson said revenue across the board has been down because of the pandemic, even from corporate clients.
Thompson said a lesson learned from the Great Recession of 2008 is the value of a good list of customers.
“We are doing a number of marketing things. I have sent out more emails in the last two weeks than I have in the last year. We don’t want people to forget us,” he said.
Other marketing tools include social media marketing about how Sand Dollar cleans clothes in a sanitary manner and using robocalls to remind customers of his pickup and delivery service.
He is contacting people who have used his services or fit his client profile.
“We are not just sending out promotional things but helpful information and things on the lighter side to give people a break from the tension,” he said.
Thompson plans a marketing promotion to create awareness by offering free laundry bags. “It’s a bit of an investment, but in the long run it can serve us positively,” he said.
Sand Dollar is open 7 a.m.- 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Thompson’s business changes focus on pickup and delivery service, limiting production schedules and reducing some employee hours.
Thompson said he plans to seek aid from the city small business relief program.
He is positive about the long term and thinks Sand Dollar will emerge in a stronger position than a lot of his peers in the business.
“Speaking in generalities, a lot of people in this business don’t have a marketing mindset. The natural reaction is to withdraw and I think when that happens your customers can forget you.”