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Heading into summer, I am amazed at the traction decorative showrooms are finding to continue growing sales. Consumers are busy remodeling. If you work in a showroom and feel like you are at the end of your rope, you are not alone. Shortages of staff, product and time are everywhere. Those who are busy remain busy.
In unchartered times, it is your time to harness the power of asking to “shop local.” As a group, we must keep focused on not just getting customers in and out of the showroom but growing our top-line sales while people are in our stores. Generally, you can only grow top-line sales in three primary ways:
You need to focus on all three strategies, but recruiting new customers takes time and money.
Price increases are difficult to do continuously when trying to remain competitive. That being said, when a manufacturer hits you with a 10 percent increase because of shipping or cardboard costs or whatever else, you should be increasing your retail prices by 13 percent or more.
The consumer does not know the increase is only 10 percent, so why do you have to move in parallel? If the increase hits in 30 days from now, why aren’t you adjusting your pricing now? Does the consumer know? Or is it your chance to pick up some extra profit along the way?
Today’s business climate is unlike anything we have ever seen. Many independent retailers are throwing in the towel because they struggle to find product and help, and are stuck working long hours to satisfy customers. Those who dig in and seize every opportunity are cash-rich right now.
Improving average transaction size can be achieved relatively quickly and easily. This strategy for driving top-line sales can be highly effective because you are working with customers already in your store. Understanding average transaction size and its effect on driving your store’s sales can help your business grow profitability and help you make smarter business decisions.
For example, the numbers can help as you evaluate marketing campaigns or promotional events. If you run two different promotions and want to measure their effectiveness on driving item sales as well as the greater impact promoting those items has on your business, you can calculate the average transaction size for the time frame of each promotion and compare their success.
Below are a few suggestions you might try to help increase your average transaction size. This is not a comprehensive list and additional tactics can effectively increase transaction size, but these ideas could serve as a starting point for your operation.
1. Add-on sales. Choose a small, high-margin product to promote, making it the add-on of the day or week. Create a competition among associates and have them keep track of how many products are added on.
For example, a soap dispenser or bath accessories are perfect add-ons usually purchased at Target or online. Do not blow this off as, “It’s only a $25 sale — so what?” If you get that much more on every transaction, it will make a measurable impact on your business.
2. Bundling. Bundle together items for projects, events or holidays. This tactic gives you control of the margin, makes customers feel as if they are getting a bargain and requires little employee involvement in the sale. An example would be to combine the sink, faucet and drain assembly in a single price.
3. Unique items. Source items local to your area and intrigue customers; try soaps, lotions or candles made by local artisans. Place smaller objects near the desks that grab customers’ attention. Find the products that could almost be an impulse buy from your hardware and accessory vendors — and keep a few on hand to capture the sale and send it home with them.
4. Use your ERP to help. Some enterprise resource planning systems allow pop-up reminders for your employees to make sure they add items such as bathroom vent fans, water conditioning, knobs/hardware or supplies and stops. So often I hear that the salesperson is afraid to get a “no” from the consumer when offering these necessities and, in most cases, stand to lose the sale.
Do the math to see how much more your showroom could get if every bathroom sale had a water softener on the ticket.
5. Creating a win-win. Select an item from your store and pledge a percentage of sales to a local charity. This tactic works with promoted or nonprice-sensitive items and lets you control the percentage pledged. Not only will you help shoppers feel good about their purchases, but you will also reinforce your store’s positive image. Use social media to your advantage here and include the message in your campaigns.
6. Training. All these strategies are solid ways to improve average transaction size, but the method with the most impact is employee training. Since educating your employees is a long-term process, you should start small if you do not already offer frequent training.
Initiate 30-minute weekly training sessions. Use the resources your rep agencies, manufacturers and buying groups offer. The learning opportunities will help your workers understand, implement and improve strategies to increase average transaction size — as well as become better employees overall.
The important thing to do is ask your employees what they are learning and what works. Make sure it is not just your showroom manager getting all the training and expect the information to trickle down second-hand. Everyone should have access.
Measure and document your employees’ performance regarding training. Allow them to occasionally visit jobsites to see what sales they miss on the job and learn about installation. Some of the best training I had was helping install product. Try different things with your team and see what works best for you.
I know I have discussed this topic in the past, but considering our current business climate, there is no better time to continue thinking about your business and further driving profits in every way possible. Work on pulling every lever to bring in more profit, work with your community to drive traffic and cooperate with your local independent showrooms to share products and get the sales.