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The holiday season is a fun and exciting time for most people. Personally, it is my favorite time of year. I loved this time of year as a child, but as a parent I love it even more. Now our industry is not the first you think of when you think of the holiday shopping. Typically you won't find a whirlpool or a custom shower system under the tree Christmas morning. To which I ask, why not? I mean seriously, if you can promote a new car and wrap it in a big, red bow, why not a freestanding tub or new touch activated kitchen faucet? Sorry, got off on a little rant. So, until that day arrives you still can bring some holiday spirit to your showroom and have fun with your loyal and new customers.
First let's start by decorating your showroom for the holidays. I mean, go all out. Put up a tree, or four, like we do in our showroom. Add toy soldiers, garland, lights, lights and more lights! Make your showroom a holiday wonderland! Since it is the holiday season I have included some pictures from the last few years of our showroom at the holidays. I know, what can I say? I am a giver...
Now, I realize wholesalers and many standard wholesale showrooms within our industry are allergic to the idea of “RETAIL” sales! It’s okay, step away from the ledge as I am here to help! To aid you in your showrooms' holiday season I have come up with a sort of retail-friendly showroom Advent Calendar for the 12 Days of Christmas. However, instead of a piece of candy (or two turtle doves), each day brings a sweet insight or business tip for the holiday season in your store. Set your budget accordingly. As I have said before, you can make something look like a million dollars without spending that much.
1 (Tuesday, December 14)
For Twitter Tuesday, use social media like Facebook and Twitter to promote 12 last-minute gift ideas – one each day. Starting today, offer a great gift at a discount. Perhaps it's something you have extra inventory of or something that's a standard item you carry. Also tell your fans and followers to check back daily for the latest last-minute gift ideas. Pssst.... If your showroom is not active in social media you should expect a lump of coal in your very near future!
2 (Wednesday, December 15)
Call a showroom meeting with all your staff and gather everyone's creative ideas on how to make it through the next two weeks — both in terms of maximizing sales and keeping everyone sane. Have each employee select a product, brand or gift that they're going to focus on each day and introduce every customer to. Make sure each person chooses something new each day. Track your results and award a prize to the person who sells the most by Christmas Eve.
3 (Thursday, December 16)
Set up a table of Christmas cookies for customers to nibble on while they shop. Send one employee out to distribute flyers throughout a local mall or shopping district advertising your "snack while you shop for kitchen and bath" event. You may attract customers who never noticed your store before.
4 (Friday, December 17)
Pre-wrap and label your top 10 sellers and put them on prominent display so shoppers can grab them and go. Make sure you promote your store by using branded wrapping paper or even a simple sticker with your store name. Don't forget to put the price tag on the wrapping paper – not on the product inside. This can be your best-selling kitchen faucet, handshower or sink.
5 (Saturday, December 18)
Set up a wrapping station to help shoppers. Invite local Girl Scout troops or elementary schools to do the wrapping in return for a donation to their cause. Everybody wins! Now if your showroom is not open Saturdays, well, you are now on my naughty list!
7 (Sunday, December 19)
I will say most showrooms are not open Sundays. However, it is a special season, and maybe for this one day you make an exception. Being this is the last Sunday before Christmas means it's going to be a big day. Make it extraordinary for your team by offering free lunch or dinner. Advertise through social media that it's a special one-day sale and offer amazing deals on your commodity brands. Set a goal, and if the store hits that specific one days sales goals, reward your team.
8 (Monday, December 20)
Flush out your inventory. It is the year's end so make sure every item that you want to move is on the sales floor; you can't sell it if it's sitting in the backroom. Furthermore, you want your store to look full and inviting to shoppers. Remember, full does not mean cluttered.
8 (Tuesday, December 21)
Start offering markdowns on goods that you want gone by Christmas. Don't be afraid to use deep discounts to move excess inventory. Promote the deals with in-store signage, and ask your showroom staff to let customers know about the new markdowns. Another clever approach is to offer an early-bird special to shoppers who come in before noon. Give them an extra percentage off their purchases. Even those who miss the sale will notice your story.
9 (Wednesday, December 22)
Invite a therapist or masseuse to give onsite chair massages and/or foot massages. Everyone is getting stressed at this point and needs some relief for those weary package-toting muscles and aching arches. For those who don't like massages, a complimentary glass of bubbly (champagne, sparkling cider) or hot chocolate might be nice.
10 (Thursday, December 23)
It's now time – or past time – to open earlier and/or stay open later to accommodate all the shoppers who still have a lot of work to do on their list. Promote the event on social media and with an e-mail campaign and offer free coffee to bolster these early birds and night owls.
11 (Friday, December 24 – Christmas Eve!)
Things are getting hectic for many shoppers by now. Help them out by scouring the store for all small items under $10 and create a large "stocking stuffer" display table. Shower heads, gift certificates, heck maybe they have a stocking big enough to fit a new kitchen sink?
12 (Saturday, December 25– Christmas Day!)
You're done! This is the day to relax with your family and friends, and to reflect on all your hard work during the holiday season.
If you read my articles (and I am hoping you do!) you will notice I like to joke. This, however, is something I am very serious about. We all need to remember what the holidays are truly about. The holidays are a time for giving. Persuade your company into committing a specific percentage of your 12 days of Christmas sales to your local shelter, food bank or other worth holiday charity. Maybe go on step further and do the whole month of December or the entire holiday season from Thanksgiving on. If they don’t agree to the donation see if you can collect new toys for needy children or gently used or new coats for the Salvation Army at your showroom. Show your community you care and you are vested in helping the less fortunate. Trust me, you will find there is no greater joy than the gift of giving.
This is the last article for 2014, I know it came so fast, right? I wish each of you a wonderful holiday and a happy new year. As for your resolutions for 2015, please add an extra one for me to make your showroom the best it can be! Until next year... be good, but have some fun too!
Dion Wilson, manager of Waterhouse Bath & Kitchen Studio and interior designer, has worked in the Kitchen & Bath industry for the last two decades. Under his direction, Waterhouse has garnered national attention. He is considered one of the industry’s leading social media experts. Dion can be reached at 419-874-3519, firstname.lastname@example.org; or www.waterhousebks.com. Find him on Facebook www.facebook.com/Waterhousebks or on Twitter @dion1701.