By Jim Augustus Armstrong
I launched Flooring Success Systems in October of 2007—right before the U.S. economy tanked. I had the task of somehow helping my floor dealer clients survive what was to become the worst economy since the Great Depression.
A key marketing approach I taught (and still teach) follows the example of a chiropractor from Arizona who built three practices that grossed over a mil- lion dollars annually. He began to give seminars to teach other chiropractors how to duplicate what he had done. Attendees would often approach him and say, “I need a strategy to get 50 new patients a month.” To which the million-dollar chiropractor would reply, “I don’t know one strategy to get 50 new patients a month, but I do know 50 strategies to get one new patient a month—and I do all 50.”
This is the kind of strategic thinking you need to apply to your dealership, especially during a recession. Let’s look at some examples.
Market to your past customers
This is the foundation to recession-proofing your business. I covered this in depth in the last installment (FCNews, June 8.) Market to your sphere of
influence. This includes not only past customers, but past prospects (who didn’t buy), friends, family, acquaintances, club members, members of your church, etc. It also includes any- one with whom you do business. Invite them all to subscribe to your newsletter.
Marketing to your past customers will automatically generate more referrals. But you should also train your sales team to ask for referrals after every installation. Publicly reward and thank your customers for referrals. Also develop referral partnerships with realtors, designers, remodelers, etc.
Develop and maintain a step-by-step sales process that can be taught to your team, and for which they can be held accountable for using. It should create differentiation, position your team as trusted advisors, help you to command full margin and close more sales.
Reviews are simply online testimonials posted on a third-party platform, i.e., Google, Facebook, Angie’s List, etc. Everyone reads reviews. If you don’t have an ongoing stream of positive reviews, you’re hurting your business. These can also be repurposed for use in other marketing: website, printed materials, social media, etc.
After every installation, market to the two homes on either side of your customer—and the three across the street. Have your installer leave door hangars with a special offer. Ask for testimonials. When you complete an installation, take a photo of your customer and get a testimonial. Create a postcard that includes their photo and testimonial along with a “special offer for neighbors of ___.” Send it out to every- one in their neighborhood.
Employ an ambassador strategy
Have each of your employees bring in 25-50 (or more) names and addresses from their sphere of influence and subscribe them to your newsletter. The employee gets a commission for anyone on their list who purchases from you.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve called a dealership, and the per- son who answered sounded dis- interested or even grumpy. Train your team how to answer the phones (scripts are very helpful). They should sound friendly and welcoming—always.