Valuable lessons shared (and learned) on the road

Home Column Valuable lessons shared (and learned) on the road

valuable lessonsI recently wrapped up a road trip in the Southeast U.S. visiting flooring Dealers in Knoxville, Tenn.; Alabama; Florida; and New Orleans. It’s always fascinating to meet floor covering retailers who are doing really well. Many of the retailers I met with aren’t satisfied with the status quo because they know there’s more business out there. The best retailers are constantly looking for ways to get better.

As a former retailer, I used this opportunity to share the knowledge I’ve learned over in my career that helped me operate a successful business for many years. In particular, I provided store owners with proven suggestions on how to greet customers when they first come into the store.

For instance, what’s your first response when Mrs. Consumer comes in and asks questions like: “What do you charge for installation?” “Can you match this tile?” “I’m looking for wood flooring; what do you recommend?” Every first engagement with the customer should start out the same way: “Tell me about your project. What are you working on?”

Let’s say a customer knows exactly what she’s looking for and comes in asking you for that specific product. Your response should always be the same: “Tell me about your project. What are you working on?” Look at it this way: If you go into a doctor’s office asking him to prescribe you medicine, do you think the doctor will offer it to you without an examination, consultation or review of your medical history? Probably not.

Asking the customer about her project is the approach that a good salesperson would take. In this situation, it’s better to be “interested” than “interesting and to understand vs. being understood. In other words, you should be curious about the project the customer is working on. What does their home look like? What type of décor is she aiming for? How long do they plan on living in the home? Is this their forever home? Is this their first home? Are they fixing it up to sell? Find out why are they buying new flooring at this time? (Here’s a little secret: Do you know the No. 1 reason people purchase new flooring? It’s usually because they hate what they have now.)

By default, many salespeople will offer their customer a choice between different styles based on price. (Piece of advice: Don’t do that.) If you care about your client and you want them to have a good experience, then help her decorate. Offer solutions you know would look good based on her wants and needs.

For instance, I was working with a salesperson who would show his client two styles of stairstep accessories—one with a matching riser and one with a white riser. A good salesperson would enthusiastically say, “You know what would look great on your stairs? We should do a white riser! It will make your steps look richer, and it’s kind of nice that you clearly see the steps at night. This is the look you are seeing in all the magazines right now. You’re going to love it!”

Bottom line is the services and expertise you offer impact your customers’ lives in a positive way. The customer is going to enjoy her new floor for many years based on the service you provide.

Now go out there and have some fun!


Jerry Levinson, a former retailer, owns Profit Now 4 Flooring Dealers. He provides sales training, processes and systems for flooring dealers help them grow their business and profits while working fewer hours. He also runs the Flooring Dealers & More group on Facebook.

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Oct. 10/17, 2022

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