January 30/February 6, 2017: Volume 31, Number 17
By Vinnie Virga
Once a year there is a process you can use to help ensure you are managing your expenses well, taking a fresh look at how you operate and maintaining a staff and showroom floor that reflects your changing business trends.
Step one: Take two days off in a row and don’t do anything related to your business. On the third day come back and, if possible, bring a female set of eyes. Don’t just pull in but drive by your business in every direction a customer can. How does your showroom look? Is she comfortable and attracted to your showroom? When she tells you what’s wrong just listen and write. Does it look clean and friendly from the outside? How is the paint, roof, signage, parking lot, etc.? Does your business name reflect what you actually sell? If you are ‘Joe’s Carpet Barn’ and you sell cabinets and hardwood you are already missing the boat. If you have lots of different signs you’re probably confusing the customer. Keep it short and consistent, i.e., Floor To Ceiling.
Now go inside and try to look at it from a new customer’s perspective. Is it professional, well organized and female friendly? Are there signs to explain department locations, or with customers walking on or using the products you sell? When she tells you what’s wrong, write it down. That should create a list of things you need to work on especially while business is slow.
Step two: Make a printout of how much you sell by category. As a percentage to your total sales, how much does each category represent? For example, if you are doing $3M per year, and you’re selling $300,000 in Vinyl, that would be 10% of your total business. Next take a laser and measure off how much square footage your allocating to each category in the showroom. Compare the percentage of square footage allocated to your total square footage by category. Then compare the percentage sales by category next to the square footage and ask yourself if it’s time to make some changes. Some quick tips would be to put the items you are trying to grow or that are most profitable at the front of your showroom. If you have a bullpen for your salespeople, get rid of it and have desks or closing tables spread throughout the showroom.
Step three: Look at your sales numbers per salesperson, and look at your customer base for the last 60 days. Do you have enough women and millennials on your sales floor? Is anyone a bad fit? Get rid of those unwilling to change or unproductive, and replace them with people who represent your customer base and are excited to be there.
Step four: Look at any expense you pay regularly on your P&L. Is it something you can eliminate or shift the cost to someone else? If it is five figures or more on an annual basis, get a minimum of two bids plus an updated bid from the person you currently get the service from, and pit them against each other to get the best deal. Any four figure or more items on an annual basis get at least one other competitive bid. Are you charging at least a $45 environmental fee to offset costs? Are you charging a minimum of $75, or $0.10 per square feet, whichever is greater for acclimation delivery for all hard surface products?
If you do this once a year you will be amazed how much money you will save, how much better your showroom will look and how much more productive your people will be.
Vinnie Virga is managing partner and president of Big Bob’s Flooring Outlet and Floors & More buying group. His experience includes management of various CCA Global Partner retail groups, including Flooring America.