I walked into an office supply store recently, and an employee asked if they could help me find something. I told her what I was looking for and she replied, “Those are on aisle twenty-three.” She then went back to talking with her co-worker. I should mention that the store was nearly empty, and she was hanging out with another employee near the front entrance. In other words, she wasn’t busy. Why didn’t she walk me over to the area where the item was located, make sure I found the exact type/color/size I needed, and perhaps even offer to sell me related products? Seeing that this was a gigantic office supply box store which was nearly devoid of customers, you’d think they’d bend over backwards to “WOW” one who finally came through their front door instead of going to Amazon.
Lowest Common Denominator
But this type of “lowest common denominator,” race to the bottom, mediocre service is typical across virtually all industries and all regions of our country, including flooring retailers. I’ve visited numerous flooring stores, and I can’t recall even one that impressed me with their service. They all blended together, each retailer more forgettable than the last. Bad news for most dealers, but good news if you’re one of the rare dealers willing to put in effort to stand apart.
I’ve lost count of how many dealers I’ve encountered over the years who have bemoaned that they can’t attract quality customers, can’t get more than 35% margins, can’t close more than three out of ten walk-ins, and try to convince me it’s because of their cheap-price competition, or their cheapskate customers, or their idiotic town, etc. But then refuse to implement proven strategies to stand apart, to create differentiation, and to attract the right kind of customers.
Again, bad news for most, but good news for those willing to implement the right strategies. In the last recession, I worked with a number of dealers who actually grew their businesses, this while massive numbers of retailers were being slaughtered in the streets. They did it in part by surviving long enough to then scoop up the market share left behind by their failed competitors. How did they survive? By implementing changes and strategies their competitors were too ignorant, passive, or lazy to implement. If for some reason we go into a second wave of massive lockdowns (like California is currently experiencing), we may see many more dealers get cut down. As with any thinning of the herd, the first to die will be the weak: those who have done nothing to create differentiation from the hordes of look alike, “me too” flooring retailers dotting our fruited plain. The strong—those who have implemented the right strategies to elevate themselves above the mediocre majority—will survive and scoop up the market share left behind by their failed competitors. Just like last time.
Better a slap from a friend…
And if this latest economic crisis doesn’t cut down the weak members of the herd, the next one likely will. It’s only a matter of time. The flooring world is getting far more difficult and competitive, not less so. A harsh assessment? Probably. But better a slap from a friend than a coup de gra from a box store.
I guess the important question is: which are you? Are you content to be part of the mediocre majority? Or, are you willing to implement creative, radical changes to stand out from the crowd? If so, you’ve dramatically increased your odds of being around for the long haul. And if that describes you, be sure to tune in for part two, because I’m going to cover specific strategies to help you quickly rise above the throngs of the mediocre.
To Tons Of Customers!
Jim Augustus Armstrong is The “Coach”
Jim Augustus Armstrong is the President of Flooring Success Systems, a program that equips dealers to double their profits, cut their work hours in half and beat the boxes! Many dealers have totally transformed their businesses and their lives for the better after joining Flooring Success Systems.
See what real, live dealers are saying!