October 12/19; Volume 30/Number 8
By David Romano
Do you ever find yourself frustrated when watching a romantic comedy in which the main character allows the love of his life to slip through his fingers due to poor execution? It seems the most gut-wrenching movies are the ones in which the guy falls in love with the girl, takes her on a few dates and clams up before he can make a move—even though she is obviously giving him the look that says she wants a kiss. The very next day some flake comes along and ruins everything; he does all the right things and they live happily ever after while Mr. Reluctant lives with regret for the rest of his life.
I have seen so many movies that go downhill in a similar fashion. If just one subtle thing was done at the right moment, the outcome would have been completely different.
This analogy can be applied to flooring sales associates when it comes to closing. The sales associate establishes a great rapport with the customer, spends a couple of hours browsing products during two—or maybe more—encounters in the store and the customer’s eyes seem to say she has every intention of making the purchase when all of a sudden the sale slips through the associate’s fingers. Now swoops in your fiercest competitor who does all the right things and takes your customer to live happily ever after in a land called “Profitability.” This movie plays over and over in the flooring industry.
The job of a flooring sales associate is much more complicated than many may realize. The sale is so complex that narrowing down the one variable that may have caused the customer to purchase elsewhere is virtually impossible. However, one variable that does have a dramatic effect is closing, and leaving this most important detail to Matt the Measure Guy or Steve’s Measure Service is risky.
According to data gathered from a substantiated survey conducted by Benchmarkinc, in which several hundred flooring business owners participated over a three-year period ending in 2013, sales associates who close in the home:
- Have close rates of 62.2% vs. 47.1% for those who don’t
- Total volume: 12.5% higher
- Average ticket: $182 higher ($2,326 vs. $2,144)
- Gross profit: 0.9% less
Let’s apply some practical logic to the data. If the same person who built the rapport in the store comes to the customer’s home to complete the measure, present the quote onsite and close, that connection becomes even stronger and the close rates increase. While in a customer’s house, the sales associate also has the ability to upsell and add projects for other rooms. He sees the exact needs of the customer and can provide expert advice that cannot be fully vetted in-store during the qualification process. This, in turn, increases the average ticket. Consequently, with the increase in average ticket and close rates comes the overall increase in volume.
Closing in the home also eliminates the practice of the customer taking your quote to your competitors, getting a better deal and coming back to you demanding you lower your prices.
There is one glaring challenge of closing in the home: gross profit. According to survey data, for every $1 million in sales there is a reduction to profitability of $9,000. This loss can be mitigated if sales associates are equipped with software that provides accurate pricing, a simple way to calculate costs and situational training to make sure they are completely comfortable with the process.