By Jim Augustus Armstrong
(Part one of three)
As the U.S. slowly emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown, no one is sure what the economy is going to do. It could rebound fairly quickly, or it could take many months or even years to come back. We just don’t know. That’s why it’s important to hope for the best and plan for the worst. I strongly recommend you assume we’re headed into a long-term recession and take the appropriate steps to combat the effects on your business. Dealers who do this will be prepared no matter what happens—good or bad.
I began Flooring Success Systems in 2007, right before the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression. Most of the flooring dealers I worked with survived the recession, and some were even able to make significant growth during this time. They did it by implementing strategies that were especially effective at combatting the effects of market downturns—strategies that most of their competitors didn’t know about or were too lazy or indifferent to implement themselves.
The strategies I’ll cover in this three-part series are not only effective during market downturns, they are powerful growth engines when markets are strong. You’ll likely recognize some of these strategies as I’ve covered them in previous columns, webinars and live speaking events. Repetition is the mother of skill, and I believe that right now, during this crisis, a review of fundamental recession-proofing strategies will help you develop the skills necessary to come out the other side strong.
Strengthen your selling strategies
As people begin buying flooring again, it’s possible (even likely) that the number of walk-ins and phone calls from interested prospects won’t rebound to pre-lockdown levels for many months. This makes it critical to close as high a percentage of those prospects as possible.
Address COVID-19 concerns
Take steps to ease your prospect’s concerns around coronavirus. Write up safety precautions you’ve implemented for your showroom and for in-home visits such as wearing masks, using hand-sanitizer, disinfecting high-touch areas, etc. Post these precautions on your website, Facebook page, printed materials, etc.
Some homeowners—especially the elderly—may not want to visit a public showroom. Offer to bring the showroom to them. Perform a design consultation via phone or Zoom to narrow down what they are looking for. Then, schedule an in-home visit and bring them the samples they are likely to be most interested in. Another option is to schedule private, after-hours showroom appointments with clients. Only allow several appointments at a time so social distancing can be maintained.
Too many showrooms feel claustrophobic with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling displays. You don’t need 79 samples of beige LVT. Curate, declutter and clean your showroom.
Banish the silence
Something that strikes me when I visit flooring showrooms is that many of them are eerily silent. This doesn’t inspire people to want to give you money. Take a cue from Starbucks and have upbeat music playing in your showroom.
Banish unattractive odors
Flooring samples tend to have a chemical and/or dusty odor. This also does not inspire people to buy. Buy an old-fashioned popcorn machine and pop popcorn right in your showroom. It smells great, and you can offer popcorn to your clients. You can also buy a small oven and bake bread or cookies in the store.
What others say about you is far more convincing than what you say about yourself. Post testimonials around your showroom or install a testimonial brag wall (corkboard) featuring testimonials from happy customers.
Stay tuned because in part two I’ll cover specific marketing strategies you should implement to give you the biggest results in the shortest time for the least money during a slow market.
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.