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I hope each of you had a very happy holiday season shared with family and great friends. Well, 2014 is behind us, and here we are in 2015! Breathe in deeply through your nose. Do you smell it? AHHHHH, it still has that new year smell. The smell of potential change mixed with the promise to do better and BAM, you have yourself a resolution.
It’s also a time for identifying strategic objectives for the coming year and the critical steps necessary to achieve those objectives. Here’s a few of those pesky New Year’s resolutions I put together to help move your showroom business in the right direction. I promise, not a single one mentions food or weight.
Most showrooms have shifted their marketing emphasis to e-mail marketing and social media, targeted specifically to known, proven customers. But more work needs to be done to develop a more consistent and focused marketing program.
This involves the structured frequency that comes with a well-thought-out marketing calendar, and messaging and design that reflects the store's personality or image to make each communication compelling and eagerly anticipated. My bosses are reading this astounded that I suggested thinking ahead.
More and better events
I have mentioned this in the past as part of a marketing initiative, many top showrooms are looking to increase the number of events they hold, while making them consistently more appealing. At the core of their marketing strategy is the objective to deepen relationships with their existing and potentially new customers.
Events are a critical component in that effort. Trust me, there’s no shortage of unique ideas.
If you look around our industry, you will find that, as much as customers love them, planning and executing these events take some effort and creativity. No matter the amount of work it takes executing a successful event, you will find they can prove to be most rewarding and profitable in the long run.
Now that is easy for me to say as I usually task my staff with the execution of events, even making someone our official events' coordinator. I lost count how many times we were at the showroom until two in the morning the day before or of an event.
Shake up your product mix
The lifeblood of any successful showroom is new! New drives sales increases. New items, new lines, new categories. Very few showrooms have ever increased margins on the same old, same-old.
The most successful showrooms consistently test new merchandise. All in an effort to grow and achieve higher margins. Their merchandise is primarily highly discretionary, and their customers are prepared to pay more for things that are more fashionable, more distinctive, of better quality. Shaking up your mix and trading up is the essential process of identifying the most compelling new thing and a way to keep margins growing!
Create a more distinctive customer experience
Each showroom is very different, for the simple reason that every independent retailer is unique. It’s that quality that separates independent retailers from the cookie-cutter chains. For every independent retailer, that uniqueness is a key strategic asset. Showrooms should be emphasizing those things that make them distinctive, that make them more memorable and compelling. Take advantage of your region or city. Make the customers' experience a truly memorable one!
Upgrade the sales staff
This is an uncomfortable one for most of us, and yet it is one of the most obvious. I’m a believer that great salespeople are born, not made. Train up somebody who’s not a natural-born seller for a year, and they still won’t be as productive as the natural just walking through the door. You have to face facts and ask yourself how much do you think a single natural might be able to increase your sales.
My experience is that the answer begins at 20%. Just as important, you have to ask how much the current staff is costing beyond payroll. So the question any manager has to ask is: Are you carrying your staff? If you are a showroom person reading this, before you send me a hate e-mail, you should ask yourself if you are an asset to your company and why.
Explore new and different growth opportunities
Many showrooms come to the point where their initial objectives have been achieved, and the store is performing at a level that allows them to ask what’s next. Growth can come in different ways. Some showrooms choose to explore additional stores, to take what they do well to additional markets. Others want to explore expanding the existing store into additional products and categories, to add on to what they are offering to their existing customers, while attracting new customers.
Change is the only name of the game!
If you're not moving forward, what’s the point? I recently watched an inspirational video with Steve Harvey in which he said — and I am paraphrasing — “You have to jump, you have to take a leap of faith.” That is what every successful person has done to get where they are today. I really suggest you look up his YouTube video titled "Leap of Faith."
See, I don’t just write these things, I live them just like you. Many of these are items I will be working on enacting within our showroom in 2015. I wonder if my staff will wonder if I added the "Upgrade the sales staff" for their eyes or not? It’s good to always try to have fun, too!
You may have other things that seem more appropriate for your showroom. Whatever you identify, the key point is that there’s no standing still. You need to continually be moving forward to keep from falling behind. Make a resolution to do something and keep that resolution. Happy New Year!
Oh, one last thing. I will be attending the opening day of KBIS in Vegas. If you are there and see me walking abound please come up and say hi; it would be my pleasure to meet you. I truly hope to see you there!
Dion Wilson, Manager of Waterhouse Bath & Kitchen Studio and interior designer, has worked in the K&B 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.