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Don’t do just one thing

Dec. 9/16 2013; Volume 27/number 16

By Jim Armstrong

Jim Armstrong
Jim Armstrong

Before I moved to Colorado, I used to patronize a lube shop that had such great customer service I wrote a couple of articles about it and even talked about the company in some of my training manuals for flooring dealers.

When I pulled up to the work bay—and before I even exited my car—the uniformed technician used my license plate to pull my service history. He greeted me by name in a friendly manner.  He did a quick consultation in which he asked me what I wanted done that day and made service recommendations based on my history. The waiting room was clean and well decorated; they always had current magazines and a few copies of that day’s local newspaper. The coffee was fresh and the serving area was sparkling, as were the restrooms. (Both of which are important, especially if you want repeat business from female customers and want to avoid surprise visits from your friendly health department representative.)

Part way through the service, a tech would come over, kneel down next to my chair and go through a checklist of more recommendations: windshield wipers, air filter, etc. At least half the time I wound up buying more than just the oil change because of these recommendations. When they were finished changing the oil, the tech went over a 32-point checklist with me, thus building value and reselling me on the service I just bought. Outside, my car was waiting for me, completely vacuumed, keys in the ignition and windows washed. Three months later I got a postcard reminding me it was time for my next oil change.

The point is they didn’t do just one thing to keep my business; they did a whole system of things that supported and reinforced each other.

This lube shop provides strategies every dealer could adopt:

•Have a neat, clean, well-organized and decorated showroom.

•Keep your restroom so clean it sparkles.

•Greet customers in a warm, friendly way that’s different than the other flooring stores.  (Hint: While shouting “Greetings, valued customer!” at the top of your lungs to walk-ins is different, it may not facilitate more sales.)

•Have your staff wear uniforms. Matching polo shirts and slacks work fine.

•Have a beverage bar. Offer walk-ins soda, coffee or juice.

•Consult with your customers. Ask lots of questions to get to know them and their needs.

•Make recommendations.

•Offer additional products, but do it in such a way that it comes across like a doctor giving recommendations to a patient and not like a used car salesman pushing upgrades.

•Use a post-installation quality checklist.

•Have your installers vacuum, sweep and pick up after themselves, leaving the home cleaner than when they arrived.

•Continue with consistent follow-up marketing after the sale.

If a floor dealer implemented all of these strategies, do you think it would be easier to keep customers coming back? To generate ongoing referrals? To stand out from the competition? To charge premium prices?

As an aside, most dealers copy each other in their advertising, selling methods, showrooms, etc. This results in dealers having to compete on price because they’ve failed to differentiate themselves from the competition. One solution is to borrow from outside our industry, which is what I’ve done with the lube shop. Keep your marketing antennae up for ideas you can “borrow” from outside the flooring industry.