Whether it’s the type of people you hire, the approach you take when upselling customers to better-end goods or the follow-through with the customers once the installation has been completed—there are myriad ways to boost sales as well as your bottom line. Following are five top tips from the retail trade.
1. Hire for attitude
Our core group of people in charge are very personable. This affects the type of employees that we hire, the type of work environment created here in the store and, therefore, how we deal and interact with our customers. People naturally gravitate toward someone who is welcoming, and it makes it much easier to establish a relationship based on trust. This way, customers are much more willing to take the time to browse your showroom and look at samples. Being personable will start everything out on the right foot.
—John Kuhn, Hub City Supply, Centralia, Wash.
2. Don’t sell yourself short
Box stores’ race-to-the-bottom pricing negatively affects the market. But when it comes to a home investment, many people are receptive to paying a premium for quality, selection and expertise. The most important variable in pricing is providing guidance in choosing the best materials to suit the customer’s budget, needs and taste. A key variable in costing the job—while holding profit margin—is having well-trained professionals who can do an accurate and comprehensive estimate.
—Eric Wooten, Johnson Floor & Home Carpet One, Tulsa, Okla.
3. Follow up with the customer
After each residential installation, we send an email to the customer asking how we did on the job. It is a very short survey that gives us instant feedback and allows the customer to write her thoughts about her experience with our company. It automatically is linked to our website under “testimonials” and gives the option to link to Google and a couple of other web review sites. We also track customer count and average daily volume info on all of our retail consumers.
—Nick Freadreacea, The Flooring Gallery, Louisville, Ky.
4. Kill ’em with kindness
I am the owner of a mom-and-pop store, so we take advantage of the personal relationships we inevitably develop with our customers. There is a solid core group of people who are dealing with the customers on a daily basis, so when someone calls about her product, it is not, “Please hold so I can plug in your order number.” Instead, it is: “Hey, Judy, absolutely. That appointment to install that LVT on your bathroom floor is still running on schedule.” Plus, we have a sales team that does not work on commission, so they are not just looking to close a sale but rather act as an extension of the company that truly cares about every single customer.
—Bryan Keller, Flagstaff Tile and Stone, Flagstaff, Ariz.
5. Train, train, train
We do continuous education for all our people. We usually hold two meetings a month. The first is our sales meeting; the second is what we call “Customer First,” where we have all our employees and installers attend. The focus is what we do as a group for the end result—a happy customer. My wife runs these meetings and is very creative with the content and the themes. It is absolutely one of the big difference makers in our business.
—John Taylor, Taylor Carpet One Floor & Home, Fort Myers, Fla.