Turning challenges into opportunities

Home Column Turning challenges into opportunities

(Part one in a series)

By Jim Augustus Armstrong—Some of the challenges faced by floor covering dealers right now include supply issues, price increases, labor shortages, combined with high demand for flooring services. But these challenges are actually “opportunities in disguise” for savvy dealers. This series is dedicated to giving you actionable strategies for overcoming these challenges more effectively than your competition.

Raise your prices. If your margins are too low, all the strategies in this series will be more difficult (if not impossible) to implement. If you’re booked out for more than a couple of weeks, you should definitely raise your prices. When hotels, airlines and other industries are in high demand, they raise their prices. You should, too.

Empire’s service is not great, yet their margins start in the 70% range and they don’t go below 50%. You can get margins above 50%, too. In fact, I train all the dealers I coach on how to get margins of 50% or more, and they’re getting it.

Offer higher wages. Right now, it’s a seller’s (job seeker’s) market. You’re not only competing against other flooring stores, but also every other job opportunity your prospective employee is qualified to do. You’re also competing against not working at all. So, if you’re hiring someone for a receptionist position, find out what the average salary for receptionists in your area is and pay them more than what they could get elsewhere. Stop asking, “What’s the least I can pay someone to fill this position?” and instead ask, “How can I pay them the most?”

Free food. It can cost $10,000 or more to replace an employee. So, any investment you make into creating a more rewarding work environment is like an insurance policy against them leaving. If you invest $5/day per employee for free food, that’s $1,000 per year each. Pretty cheap insurance when you consider the cost of replacing them. Provide snacks, sodas, coffee. Have lunch brought in once a week.

Create opportunities for growth and development. One of the factors in causing people to stay at a company are opportunities for development.

  • Management opportunities (advancement)
  • Sales training
  • Management training
  • Continued education
  • Employee outings.

Hosting some kind of employee outing two to four times per year is a good way show your appreciation and build camaraderie. What you do will depend on the area you live in, the interests of your team and your company culture.

Improve your work environment. If your people feel good about coming to work, you’re going to have a better chance keeping them long-term.

Provide work-life balance. If someone needs time off to care for a sick child or attend their kid’s sporting event, give it to them if at all possible. Provide paid vacation time. When possible, be flexible with work hours.

Create a positive work environment. This includes genuine praise and recognition. Publicly acknowledge team members when they go above and beyond. I’m a huge fan of weekly team trainings, and these are a fantastic opportunity to highlight the successes of your staff.

For example, if a customer calls in a rage because something went wrong with the installation and her salesperson, Rebecca, was able to calm her down and resolve the situation, acknowledge Rebecca in front of the entire team.

Jim is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information visit FlooringSuccessSystems.com.

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