By Ken Ryan
The way you behave during a crisis like COVID-19 is what your customers will remember—not what type of sale you ran or product you sold.
That observation from Lizbeth Calandrino, flooring industry consultant and long-time FCNews columnist, was one of many insights offered during the Sept. 14 Marketing Mastery webinar—titled “Floor dealer success during the COVID-19 crisis”—sponsored by FCNews.
Calandrino was joined in the panel discussion by Scott Perron, FCNews columnist and president of 24-7 Floors and Floor4Pros, and moderator Jim Armstrong, president of Flooring Success Systems and FCNews columnist.
Calandrino further explained that early on in the pandemic some flooring retailers realized it didn’t matter what they were selling—it was more important to start building relationships with people in their communities.
She cited Julie Kerkochian, owner of United Carpet One Floor & Home, Fresno, Calif., who went above and beyond to connect with her community. For example, if a customer was short on money or wanted to pay the following week, Kerkochian let them pay with food instead. She then used the provisions for a food drive. In doing so, Kerkochian was showing her “human side,” Calandrino said, one piece of the puzzle that is so important in building community relationships.
Another way to build relationships during crisis is to show that you’re serious about the well-being of your customers.
Perron noted how crucial it is for flooring retailers these days to establish a safe environment. As an example, he said his stores provide disposable masks for patrons as well as hand sanitizers.
As an added value, Perron’s business arranges for a professional cleaning crew to come to a customer’s home following an installation. The home is thoroughly cleaned at no charge to the customer. “It’s a great added value and closing tool,” Peron said. “For a couple hundred bucks, which you can build into the sale, you make your customer’s day and make her home look great.”
Perron said retailers can use this as a differentiator since neither Home Depot nor Lowe’s is going to provide this cleaning service.
As well, Calandrino advised retailers to take advantage of free training classes offered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). She said this guidance can help educate RSAs on ways to ensure customers feel safe while they are in your store.
Be the expert
Panelists also encouraged retailers to use video to promote their businesses and to position themselves as the flooring experts in their market. As Calandrino explained, “We don’t see enough customer testimonials.”
She said retailers should employ their installers to get customer testimonials after a job well done. “Have the installer ask, ‘What do you think of what we did today?’ ‘What do you think of the stairs?’ If you can get a customer who can show emotion, who can talk about the installation, that’s key.”