By Steven Feldman In what has become a tradition, I like to use this space in one of the first two issues of the year to reprint a portion of something that Pami Bhullar, retail trainer extraordinaire, sends me every year—his New Year’s resolutions for flooring professionals. He believes if retailers can implement at least three of the following resolutions and/or objectives, they will see improved results.
The foundation of this year’s resolutions is the fact that we are living in a changed world. Every difficulty teaches us a new skill to overcome new challenges. In addition, the growth that started mid-2020 should continue for the foreseeable future. The flooring business will be robust because many people are still not vacationing and will focus instead on home improvements. He also believes carpet will experience higher growth as consumers desire to buy better flooring.
So, without further ado…
- Resolve not to give up now. It is common wisdom that most accidents happen when we are close to the home, or most of us give up when we are so close to success. I believe we are much closer to the end of this pandemic, so let’s not let our guard down. Keep practicing safety measures.
- Practice gratitude and positivity. We all have so much to be thankful for and should count our blessings of personal safety, health, business, customers, each other, our partners, family and friends. We are all craving positivity. Let us pledge to practice positivity in our communication and actions.
- Listen to understand. Make every effort to come across relaxed and confident. Customers want to be heard, and as professionals, let us practice our listening skills. Let us listen to understand rather than just respond. Doing this makes people feel heard and respected, and improves trust in you and the relationship.
- Upgrade your story. If you do not have a story to tell, all you have is a price to sell. We all want to support local businesses. Does your story explain that you are a locally owned business serving for X number of years? Build your story with your competitive advantage that answers a very basic question: “Why should customers buy from your store?”
- Focus on brand. Brands create confidence, comfort, safety and deliver the promise of performance. When we are stressed out, short on time and/or anxious, we tend to do or buy familiar things. Therefore, present the most trusted and recognized brands you carry in your store.
- Be for something, not against something. When you put energy against something, the opposite energy cancels or reduces your efforts. If we are for something (positive energy) and not against something (negative energy), not only do we have more fun, but we also accomplish our objectives as well.
- Strive to double your consumer financing as ‘BRO.’ In challenging times consumers prefer to hang on to their money. If you give them a chance to use financing the right way, many may buy better flooring. Bringing up financing at the end is almost disrespectful to customers. Therefore, broach the subject on the front end as a Benefit (B) of doing business with your store, in the middle as a Reinforcement (R) and at the end as an option (O).
- Present the best. Many customers are buying better flooring to make their homes more comfortable. The home now functions as a gym, castle, fort, school and more. Give your customer a chance to buy the best. It is easier to go downhill than uphill, and when you go from the best to a better product, customers lose some benefits, which justifies the value in the best product.
- Stay connected. Connection with others has never been more important than it is now. Call past customers, mill reps and friends more often to stay connected. If you need help with something, call the best person you think can help. You will be helping that person as well because he or she wants to help.
- Focus on your Top 20. If everything is special then nothing is special. Make a list of the top 20 soft surface and top 20 hard surface products in your store. This list should be based on what you would be proud to sell, what creates the best value (not price) and what your customers would be proud to own. Identify these top 20 products so everyone can easily locate them. This process may allow you to close sales faster and help customers focus on the right products.
Bonus resolution: Learn the art of virtual selling, actively promote your company and follow your vendors on social media.
This pandemic is affecting all of us differently. Based on the actions we take now, we will come out stronger or weaker on the other end, but none of us will be the same. It is my desire that you come out stronger.