In part 1 of this series I made the point that, hopefully, industry-wide solutions to the installer shortage are coming, but that may take awhile. In the short term you’ve got to solve it for yourself, which generally means either hiring installers away from other retailers, or recruiting and training them yourself. Either way, if you don’t have enough customers and your margins are low, you’ll have trouble affording it.
That’s where good marketing comes in. Let’s look at some practical strategies you can implement to attract plenty of quality customers and command margins of 40%-50% or more.
Build a strong foundation
The first thing you need to have in place is a strong selling system. Studies show that on average 3 out of 10 walk-ins wind up buying. This is not good. If you’re investing time, energy and money to get customers to walk in, but your sales process is so weak that 70% of them don’t buy, you’re simply throwing your money away. So, before you even begin investing in marketing you need to put a strong selling system in place. Your selling system should equip your team to take control of the sales process, create differentiation, position them as trusted advisors, command high margins, and close more sales. Hold weekly one-hour sales team meetings devoted solely to training them on your system.
Implement a referral-generating system
Referrals are less price-resistant, easier to close, and more fun to work with than cold prospects who simply saw an advertisement. We all know this. Yet most dealers don’t have a system in place to generate ongoing referrals. Your referral system should do two things: First, train your team on how to ask for and get immediate referrals from your completed installations. Second, your system should generate ongoing referrals from customers between purchases. You do this by creating a culture of referrals: celebrating, acknowledging and rewarding referrals, and making every customer interaction a great experience so they want to refer you.
Dance with the one who brought you
Your business exists because of the patronage of your past customers. Stop ignoring them. Communicate with them monthly, at least. I’m a broken record on this because 1) I’ve seen the great—sometimes jaw-dropping—results of dealers who began marketing regularly to their past customers, and 2) 99% of dealers still don’t do it. So, I’m going to keep hammering this until the industry gets the message.
Wow ‘em from the get-go
Everyone goes online looking for flooring. Everyone reads reviews. Make sure you’ve got dozens of 4 and 5-star reviews, with new ones being added each month. I’ve helped dealers go from very few (or zero) reviews, to having dozens or hundreds, so I’ve seen first-hand the competitive advantage that generating lots of positive reviews gives them.
Profit from other people’s herds
Over the years you’ve been in business you’ve rounded up a herd of past customers who provide you with repeat and referred business. Other businesses have also rounded up herds. Build referral relationships with these businesses. Top prospects include Realtors™, remodelers, and designers. If your average ticket is $3,000, and you have 20 referral partners sending you a measly 4 referrals a year, that’s $240k in revenue with zero marketing costs.
There are many other types of advertising, too many to list here. But what the strategies I’ve presented have in common is this: they all help increase your repeat and referred business, close more sales, and position your store as the obvious choice. When you shift from being, say, 30% repeat/referral-driven to being 70% repeat/referral-driven, your closed sales will automatically increase, and it will be far easier to command high margins. And this will help you solve the installation crisis for your own business more effectively and less expensively than many other kinds of advertising.
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!