by Warren Tyler
What I thought was a cute story about my wife’s guerilla marketing at the big boxes drew quite a response to my somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment, “They lie; you can steal” (“Things are getting tougher: What to do,” FCNews, Aug. 15/22).
Just a quick recap, while she was waiting around at our son’s soccer practice, she did what most women do—shopped. She’d go to the box stores and while walking past the flooring department notice no one was picking up the customers. So, she, like any good samaritan, helped them. A friend of mine, however, offered that no matter how bad the economy was, it wasn’t license to lie and steal.
It took me aback that anyone in the flooring industry would feel that way. Because of the damage these stores have done to our industry, no one should care if they just disappeared. They have taken an already shady industry and made it into a dis- reputable one. I was wrong when I thought
the demise of the huge, high pressure chain stores, which were replaced by the excellent stores of CCA Global and the like, might improve our reputation—pipe dreams.
So the presence of this type of competition hasn’t changed. Obviously, the boxes aren’t high pressure, but their pricing, over-measuring and lack of service affects us all.
What else hasn’t changed are the proven methods of prospecting for and keeping customers which is now more important than ever. Actually those dealers who required their salespeople to network, keep tickler files, promote to existing customers and join the various service and social clubs all along may not have noticed a recession, so effective are these methods.
Notice I’m not even writing about social media.
Organizations like the chamber of commerce, BNI International and the dozens of other networking groups have always been there. Today, I would definitely schedule less time on the sales floor and pay the small fees for my people to join these groups in all surrounding areas.
Tickler files have been used by professional salespeople forever and are merely 5 x 8-inch cards, two for every customer, whether sold or not, with one card for all the business transactions with that person including what she may be purchasing in the future and one that lists all the personal data you can get on every customer; significant days like birthdays, ages and names of children and pets, what they do for a living and, nowadays, e-mails and social media addresses. These cards should be gone through every day and a month shouldn’t go by without a contact. Five years in the business means you should have thousands of these sets of cards. The best source of information about these files is in any book written by Joe Girard who made a million a year selling cars in Detroit. He spent every morning scanning the local papers picking up names of children’s accomplishments, births, marriages, sports and business briefs in order to call and congratulate customers, It only made him a million each year back in the ’70s—when a million dollars was real money.
Private sales to your mailing list are always profitable. Past and current customers are always in the market for flooring and need to be reminded what a great experience buying from you was—wasn’t it?
Social and service clubs need no explanation: Eagles buy from Eagles, Rotarians from Rotarians, Lions from Lions, vets from vets, Elks from Elks—well you get the picture. The rewards from this type of networking are incalculable.
This column has skimmed the surface. My books are more in depth. What are you waiting for? Time to make some money.
Warren Tyler has 52 years of retail flooring experience. He is one of the industry’s most sought after speakers, and his training materials are among the most requested. Call 804.384.7588 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.