(Third of three parts)
As I outlined in the previous two parts of this series, there is no way you, as a small independent business, can beat Home Depot by playing their advertising game their way. In my last installment, I covered specific strategies to leverage your advantages as a small business when you market yourself. Now, let’s look at strategies to use in the showroom and during the in-home measure.
Train your team how to answer the phones. I frequently phone flooring dealers I’m coaching, and one of the first things I look at is how the phones are answered. It’s sadly common that the person answering sounds grumpy, disinterested or unprofessional. The phones are often the first interaction prospects have with your company, and they are used multiple times throughout the sale and installation. Leverage this opportunity to impress your customers. Do not let anyone answer the phone who has not been trained to sound friendly, welcoming and professional when speaking to callers.
Greet walk-ins right away. I’ve visited a lot of flooring dealerships, and it’s common for me to be completely ignored. Don’t let this happen. If you’re shortstaffed, put a bell on your door so people working in the back know someone has walked in.
Clean, de-clutter and curate. Make sure your showroom is neat, clean, painted and free of dust. Wash the windows. Knock down the cobwebs under the eaves and around your sig- nage. Invest in good lighting. Cut back on the number of displays—open up your showroom. You don’t need 57 samples of beige carpet.
Banish the smell of chemicals in your showroom. Flooring stores often smell like dust and glue, which is not an aroma that inspires people to open their wallets. Bake bread or cookies or pop popcorn to make your showroom smell friendlier.
Arrive professionally. When you visit a customer for a measure, call a few minutes before you get there. Park on the street, not in the driveway. Dress professionally. Wear shoe covers in the home.
Perform a diagnostic. Get permission to measure and inspect all the areas, even if you’re not replacing all the flooring. Give your customer tips on getting the longest life out of all their flooring. Make recommendations on the right type of vacuum, walk-off mats and cleaning products for their floors.
Let others sell for you. Online reviews are powerful and necessary to maximize your success, but don’t stop there. Use testimonials from thrilled clients during your sales process. Hand out printed testimonials to walk-ins.
Let her choose between you, you and you. Instead of giving the customer one price, when appropriate give her sever- al different prices for good, better, best options.
Offer thank-you gifts. Surprise your customers with a thank-you gift after the sale. That’s a great time to ask them for a referral or an online review.
None of these strategies are expensive or complicated, but large corporations are unlikely to do any of them, let alone all of them. And that’s how you leverage your advantage as a small business.
Jim is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information visit FlooringSuccessSystems.com.