Retail education: Shop at home

Home Columns Retail education: Shop at home

by Kelly Kramer

About 10 years ago I started Kelly’s Carpet Wagon, a shop-at-home van operation and today I also have a storefront for home shopping. One thing I learned early in my shop-at-home business is the closing ratio is much higher in the home than it is from the in- store meetings. The basic idea is when people invite you into their home they develop a more personal and trusting relationship. Meeting the family and pets, and finding common ground on their turf in a more relaxed setting puts people at ease. It can make you more of a hometown boy and lowers peoples’ guard.


Having a background with in- home sales has helped me greatly when selling from the store showroom. The crossover, as I’ve learned, is very simple because I understand the huge advantage of quickly getting out to the home or business. Very early in the sales presentation, I mention that we offer an in- home, complementary consultation (not a free estimate) to help with color, design, total cost and options. It’s very much the same as your automotive repair shop offering a free brake or diagnostic check. You get to know and possibly feel comfortable with the technician and usually even if you don’t buy now, you probably will at a later date.

The word probably is big here. Think about when you have to purchase a large item for your home or car. If you’re lucky, you have a company you’ve done business with but if not, you turn to friends’ referrals, then to advertising and finally to your nearest local dealer or big box. If you have one of the lucky stores, it will be presented from previous buyers or referrals. If not, getting out to the home is even more important to build that trusted advisor relationship. Not getting out to the house means you are just one of several stops on an educational learning trip. Does the term “we’ll be back” sound familiar? Work hard to make that crossover from store selling to in-home estimating.

Learn by example

Here is how my conversation goes to get into the home for an advisory consultation estimate: “What we can do is meet with you at your home to get exact measurements and the layout. We can bring out some samples that you like today and then I can return again later with some more choices if those don’t work. Plus, seeing your style and colors will help me do that.”

This allows me to give complete prices on different areas so the customer knows exactly what she is up against. You can also help advise on break points between rooms and get a better feel for what she is trying to achieve.

“Being in this business seemingly my whole life helps me show you some ideas you might not have thought of,” I continue. “Very often I have ideas that cost less and do the job just as well, and quite frankly I’ll tell you if you need to spend more if your situation needs it. But either way you’ll have a true idea of the possibilities and real total costs.”

Customers who need design and color help are lucky; I’m very good at that as well. Even if the customer doesn’t buy now, keep the diagram on file for when she is ready. If she is comfortable with this, I’ve just ended her shopping.

As mentioned earlier, this in-home method has a very high first-time closing ratio because you have earned the key to be their new trusted advisor.

Thanks for reading.

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