By Jim Augustus Armstrong
In part one, I made the point that mediocre service is rampant across most industries, retail flooring included. The flooring world is getting more difficult and competitive, not less so. If you expect to prosper long term, you must rise above the legions of the mediocre.
This is especially true if you want to have a legacy business you can pass on to your children, or if you want to be able to sell it for top dollar. This is all bad news if you are not willing to put in the effort to implement the right strategies, but a gigantic opportunity if you are one of the rare dealers who is committed to creating complete and total differentiation to rise above the rest.
Let’s look at some concrete strategies for standing out.
Make sure your showroom and the exterior of your building look immaculate. That means keeping the walls clean and painted when necessary, windows washed regularly, signage clean, walkways swept, weeds eliminated, etc. Your restrooms should not only be clean but decorated beautifully. You’re in the interior design business, so all your interior spaces should look and feel great.
Too often showrooms are cluttered and overstocked, silent as the grave and smell like dust and glue. Fix this problem. Declutter and curate your samples. Have music playing throughout your show- room. Pop some popcorn or bake cookies or bread in your store to create a welcoming, inviting aroma. When you know a client is coming in for an appointment, have a whiteboard on an easel inside the front entrance and write a welcome message to that client. Have testimonials visible throughout your showroom. Offer a menu of hot and cold beverages. Offer snacks (like the popcorn, cookies and bread you’ve prepared in your store). Make sure all walk-ins are acknowledged within 30 seconds of entering your store. If you’re short staffed and working with a customer, excuse yourself and welcome the new walk-in, get them a drink and invite them to browse until you can help them.
Implement a written, step-by-step sales process that can be taught and followed by even the greenest of salespeople. Your system should have multiple “trust builders” and “wow factors” engineered into it. For example, using testimonials, wearing shoe covers in the home, taking your prospect through a list of questions and writing down their answers, etc.
Positive comments from customers are powerful, social proof that you are different from your competitors and worth a higher price. This starts with online reviews. Generate hundreds of them and completely dominate your market with reviews. These can be repurposed for your website, showroom, marketing, printed materials and videos, etc.
Nurture your herd
Communicate with your legion of past customers at least monthly—preferably weekly—using fun, informative, welcome, entertaining content. I’ve worked with more dealers than I can count who have transformed their businesses by doing this. Ninety nine percent of dealers ignore this strategy. Good news if you’re part of the 1%. I work with a lot of them, and they’re smiling all the way to the bank.
Jim Augustus Armstrong is the founder of Flooring Success Systems, which provides flooring dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. Visit FlooringSuccessSystems.com.