August 31/September 7; Volume 30/Number 6
By David Romano
Having a beautiful showroom, the largest selection of samples or the best reviews on Yelp doesn’t mean much unless you can drive traffic through your doors. So the real dilemma is finding out which methods work and making them happen without spending a fortune.
After years of working with over 1,400 clients, we’ve heard stories about the effectiveness of television commercials, snippets of success from radio campaigns and legendary $500,000 private sale days generated from direct mail. All of these tactics are useful if you’re looking to create top-of-mind awareness for a traditional retail business, but what about attracting the big fish like builders, commercial contractors, multi-family, institutional, insurance and more?
When we asked our clients how they drove traffic for non-retail business, we often heard stories of how they gave their RSAs the task to call apartments, builders, churches and doctors’ offices to check if they needed flooring. Some owners noted they have many outside sales associates who are dedicated to builder, multi-family, insurance and commercial accounts. This is not a recipe for consistent growth, however, because these top producers may lose business if they become overwhelmed and clients become underserviced.
Recognizing this issue, Benchmarkinc developed a unique program to assist flooring dealers in driving business. We built a system around the concept of pharmaceutical representatives—individuals whose primary job is to visit medical professionals to pitch the medicines they have been assigned. They don’t write the prescriptions, order the products or assist the pharmacists in filling the bottles; all they want is for the names of their assigned medicines to appear on as many prescriptions handed over to the pharmacist as possible.
If this system worked so well for the medical industry, why wouldn’t it work for the flooring industry? With that, our Hunter Program was born.
We identified over 52 smaller industries to target within the flooring world and armed our hunters with clever programs to drive interest in working with the flooring companies they represent. Some programs include rebate offers, loyalty rewards, preferred treatment and other perks designed specifically for the targeted audience. For a hunter, driving that interest is his full-time job; he never puts together an estimate, schedules installations or handles any customer service issues. He simply brings in millions of dollars that is not coming through the front door via traditional efforts.
When used correctly this system is magical, but without a strategy the results are spotty. Though a true hunter will have a natural ability to persuade, he still must be trained, tracked and held accountable.
Today a large number of flooring companies have implemented the hunting concept. According to a substantiated survey conducted by Benchmarkinc in which several hundred flooring business owners participated over a three-year period ending 2013, independent flooring stores that hired a dedicated hunter experienced:
- Volume levels nearly 2.5 times higher than those who do not have a hunter ($6.46 million vs. $2.86 million)
- Sales productivity $112,268 greater for each RSA
- $32,250 greater productivity per employee
- Owners earned an additional $68,805 per year
Before you hire a hunter and send him to one of our camps, keep in mind that with an increase in sales comes the added burden of providing service at the level your customers have come to expect.