Most people come out of an MRI with diagnostic test results. But entrepreneur Mike Bleier came out with much more. While inside an MRI scanner, the owner of Chicagoland’s Greener Cleaner and founder of Drive Cleaning came up with a business plan to partner with dry cleaning companies across the nation.
“When I got into the dry cleaning business, I just wanted to try and build a business that was different – and better – than the hundreds of cleaners dotting every corner of Chicago,” says Bleier. “But my ‘a-ha’ moment came during an MRI. You can’t move a muscle, and you’re stuck there for 30-40 minutes. So there I was inside a huge magnetic tube, and the idea just hit me. I know that online marketing works for acquiring new customers for dry cleaners, because I’ve done it for 12 years. I also know that many of the established dry cleaners across the country aren’t good at online marketing. I’ve made a bunch of contacts over the years that give me credibility in the industry, so why couldn’t I combine my online marketing knowledge with my industry expertise and create a brand new service for dry cleaners?”
The question was rhetorical for Bleier who turned his idea into a reality. With Drive Cleaning, he helps direct customers to dry cleaning companies within their zip code via the website www.drivecleaning.com.
“Mom and pops who just want to dip their foot into the online marketing pool are going to be faced with quite a large—and potentially expensive learning curve,” explains Bleier. “You have to build a captivating site that focuses on conversions over the minutiae of information about your operation, and then you have to know a lot about search engine marketing, including PPC advertising, SEO, link building, blogs, social media, etc. It can be pretty dizzying for a mom and pop with no online marketing experience.”
By simply paying a one-time flat fee, providing their contact information, zip code requests and logos, small dry cleaning businesses across the country can get into the online market. Within one week to 10 days they can be part of the Drive Cleaning system that offers them access to new customers.
“The best way to build a customer base on a pickup and delivery route for dry cleaners is with online marketing,” says Bleier. “Being in this industry, I’ve run the numbers and I know how cleaners currently market themselves – they do so by hiring sales people to knock on doors, by hanging bags on the doors of homeowners, or by sending direct mail. All of these options are incredibly expensive, when you measure the actual cost per new customer. Online marketing allows dry cleaners to acquire new customers at a fraction of the price of using traditional methods. And they don’t need to know a thing about online marketing – we do it all!”
This kind of thought leadership is typical of Bleier who runs the first 100% wet cleaner dry cleaning company in the US. Yet for someone who prides himself on thinking outside the box, it’s ironic his web-based empire originated within an MRI box.