By Jim Augustus Armstrong
“I’m having a record year,” a dealer from Virginia told me during a recent dealership diagnostic I was conducting over the phone. “What do you attribute that to?” I asked.
“I think the COVID-19 crisis has caused people to do a lot of home fix-up projects, including replacing their flooring,” he said.
I’ve been hearing this from a lot of dealers around the country. Depending on the market area, some dealers are so busy right now they can hardly come up for air. Unfortunately, for most dealers this will be a temporary bump in revenue, after which their monthly sales will fall back to pre-COVID-19 levels. However, smart, forward-thinking dealers are leveraging this unique opportunity into a permanent increase in size for their business. Here’s how:
Leverage a one-time sale into lifetime loyalty. Dealers have a lot of new customers com- ing into their store whom they’ve never met before. Sadly, most of these sales will be, at best, a one- and-done deal because only a tiny fraction of retailers will plug those new customers into a long-term customer nurture plan. Smart dealers are leveraging this surge in new customers into a new source of permanent long-term repeat and referral business. They do it by marketing to those customers monthly (even weekly), using the 90/10 formula.
The marketing multiplier. Let’s say you get 100 brand-new customers during COVID-19. Each of those have at least 200 people in their sphere of influence, and that’s conservative when you figure in social media contacts. This means your 100 new customers represent at least 20,000 additional contacts in your market area. Forward-thinking dealers will plug those initial 100 new customers into the aforementioned customer nurture (i.e., marketing) plan. By staying in front of their customers with fun, entertaining communication—including reminding them of their referral program and celebrating people who send them referrals—they’re creating total top-of-mind awareness. When anyone in their sphere needs flooring, they’ll instantly think of these dealers.
Reviews/testimonials. Smart dealers ask all new customers for online reviews and testimonials. They know what others say about them is far more impactful than what they say about themselves. Online reviews can be repurposed for other marketing, including your website and printed materials.
Social media. We see a lot of dealers posting mostly product photos—images of displays, product promotions, etc. These get very little engagement. What works for Facebook is the same thing that works for the overall customer-nurture strategy: the 90/10 formula. This includes snapshots of happy customers, testimonials and quick videos of you, your team and your customers. These types of posts absolutely blow away images of products, no matter how “professional” they look.
Develop affiliate relationships. There’s no better time then right now to develop relationships with realtors, designers and other home services. If you have 50 businesses sending you four referrals per year, that’s an extra 200 sales with very low marketing costs. If you maintain them, these affiliate relationships will continue to feed your business for years to come.