I was on the phone recently with my sister. She and her husband needed floors for their new house, and she had spent several days visiting flooring stores in and around the major metro area near their home.
“I visited seven or eight flooring stores, and the showrooms were almost all super depressing,” she said. “And they were weirdly silent. Or, in some of them you’d hear someone speaking on a phone way in the back. On several occasions I actually had to hunt someone down to help me. When I did speak with a salesperson, they’d ask what I was looking for, and then just show me samples and say, ‘here are your options.’ There was no guidance, no asking me questions, nothing that really helped me make a decision.”
I’ve visited a lot of flooring showrooms, so none of this surprised me.
“Did any of the showrooms smell like dust and glue?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“Yes! I noticed this peculiar odor, and now that you mention it, it smelled like dust and glue. Definitely not a smell that inspired me to buy anything, and they all had it.”
“I bet most of the showrooms were not only quiet, but totally empty,” I said.
“Yep, totally empty. Most of the time I’d walk in and there’d be no customers, and no employees in sight. Walking around a silent, empty showroom was kind of creepy. The only exception was a store that was part of a flooring chain. Every time I went in it was packed with customers, and there were always employees busy at the front counter.”
“Who did you wind up buying flooring from?”
“The chain store.”
“Was it because they were the cheapest?”
“I don’t think they were really much cheaper, even though they advertised really heavily that their prices were the lowest.”
“Why did you choose them?”
“Honestly, Jim, it was because out of all the dealers I visited, they were the least bad.”
“The least bad?”
“Yeah. Their products weren’t any better, and their salespeople weren’t any more helpful. But the showroom wasn’t depressing, and there were always people at the front desk. I honestly can’t even remember anyone’s prices.”
“Let me ask you something, Sis. Let’s say one of the dealerships you went to was different. When you walked in, instead of it being silent as a funeral home, they had upbeat music playing. And instead of being jammed with displays, the showrooms were curated. And they had a popcorn machine, or had baked cookies, so it smelled good, and not like dust and glue.”
“That would have really stood out,” she said.
“And within thirty seconds you were greeted by a friendly employee who said something like, ‘Welcome to Jimbo’s floors! Are you a new client?’ And after you said yes, they let you know that they have a free design consultation for new clients to help them narrow down the thousands of flooring options to the perfect product for their design taste and lifestyle. And then invited you to sit down with them for a complimentary consultation. And they handed you a beverage menu and said, ‘What can I get you to drink?’ And after they brought you a drink and a plate of cookies, they then spent a few minutes taking you through a detailed questionnaire, asking questions and writing down your answers. And when they came out to measure your home, they wore shoe covers, and measured and inspected all your floors, and gave you written recommendations for getting the longest life out of your flooring.”
“That would have been amazing,” she said.
“So, here’s the question,” I said. “At that point if they had given you a quote for new floors, and the quote was higher than everyone else’s, would you still have bought from them?”
“Oh definitely, no question about it. For a store that did all that, price wouldn’t have mattered. I’d have gladly paid more.”
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