By Scott Perron
(Second of two parts)
In part I of this series, I talked about how COVID-19 has forced us as an industry to respond to unprecedented challenges. In this installment, I will discuss the importance of embracing change in order to move forward to meet these challenges head on.
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, we looked to secure the necessary supplies ranging from masks and sanitizer to plexiglass barriers and toilet tissue. We posted signs throughout the facility about our rules for face coverings as well as no-return policy on materials as a result of the virus. But more importantly, we required customers to make an appointment in order to enter the showroom to ensure one-on-one attention along with social distancing.
Next, we created two short videos that play on a loop on both of our websites notifying potential clients that we had taken the necessary precautions to ensure their safety during the selection and installation processes. We also instructed all of our staff from warehouse to sub-contractors on how we were proceeding so we could put our clients and vendors at ease. Once we began these processes, we were pleasantly surprised to see how positive the reaction was to our new systems.
As you might imagine, our closing rates increased dramatically due to the virtual elimination of any tire kickers. New processes continued as we instituted touchless sales agreements and installation contracts via the use of DocuSign, which has proven to be a home run.
Aside from the obvious pain and devastation this pandemic has caused so many families, I am grateful and impressed by some of the positives that have come from these last five months of change. This global outbreak has caused people to come together, accept change and move forward in a new and more common direction. Customers, vendors and installers have learned to work together more closely with a common goal that reaches beyond commissions and net profits—all while increasing efficiencies that will change how we operate for a long time to come.
However, with every silver lining there can be a cloud as these changes have now made us more dependent on digital communications. Keep in mind that one of the great separators in our industry has been the consumer’s need to touch and see the product prior to purchase. As a result, we—unlike many other Amazon-serviceable products—have had some protection from the movement toward virtual purchases.
However, this is changing. Over the last 120 days, we have seen a dramatic shift in customers calling or emailing a quote request and asking for samples to be mailed. We have also seen an increase in the distance from where they summon our help. We have made multiple sales without in-person contact and have shipped product to many states outside Florida and even to places like Jamaica.
For those of you who are not prepared for such change, do not bury your heads in the sand but instead look toward improving your systems. Make sure to provide a suitable collage of products and service capabilities on your websites, social media and online advertisements. Design them to inform your clients that you offer both in-person and touch-free services. This will undoubtedly become part of the “new normal” as consumers speedily propel the shift toward purchasing more and more product for direct delivery.
Scott Perron is the president of 24-7 Floors and Floor4Pros based in Sarasota, Fla. He is also an industry trainer and motivational speaker. He can be reached at 941.666.8640, extension 107, or via email at Scott@Floors4Pros.com.