August 6/13, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 4
By Mara Bollettieri
Opportunities abound for retailers looking to get into the countertop business. Research shows the U.S. slab market is estimated to be around $5 billion in sales, with half coming from quartz, porcelain and natural stone slabs. But in order to tap into this lucrative product segment, dealers need to understand a few basics and fundamentals of the business.
FCNews caught up with Paij Thorn-Brooks, vice president of marketing, Dal-Tile Corp., to get her advice for retailers who may be new to the business of countertops.
Following are a few helpful tips and tricks of the trade.
Tip # 1: Partner with the right supplier
It is important to team up with a knowledgeable, experienced partner in order to fully participate in this untapped industry. According to Thorn-Brooks, Daltile offers “Complete Countertops,” a turnkey solution for select dealers that combines manufacturing and distribution with a national database of vetted fabricators and installers to allow dealers to capture sales without the hassle.
Tip # 2: Market the product properly
Start where your customers start. “Customers begin their design journey with the countertop selection and then coordinate the rest,” Thorn-Brooks said. “By expanding your offering with an assortment of extra-large slab surfaces, you can find profit from start to finish in any new build or remodel project. Many extra-large slabs are ideal for more than just countertops, enabling you and your customers to coordinate their floors, walls, interiors, exteriors and beyond for a truly seamless experience. Working with countertops and extra-large slab surfaces enables you to help your customers create their perfect space by leading them through the design journey.”
Tip # 3: Use creative merchandising techniques
Since slabs are such a large surface, it is important to merchandise in a simple, clean way to allow for the customer to see the product sample and be able to easily select product pairings, according to Thorn-Brooks. Offering small take-away samples or printed elements can also help cater to the customer and allow for an easy shopping experience.
“Maintaining a cohesive digital presence in support of your in-store offering is an important element to merchandising for today’s consumer,” she explained. “Additionally, utilizing room visualizers are extremely helpful in allowing the customer to see the complete visual for her space and feel reassured on her selection.”
Tip # 4: Train your RSAs, installers
Partnering with the manufacturer and/or certification programs like the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) for CEUs and training is the best method for facilitating training on installation for countertops.
“Large-format porcelain is still a new concept to many fabricators and installers,” Thorn-Brooks said, adding that thin, large panels require special care from transport through installation. “Dal-Tile offers training on proper handling, installation and fabrication. This ensures successful sellers and happy homeowners.”
Tip # 5: Look for trade-up opportunities
Understanding the performance attributes across categories is key to selling countertops and extra-large slab surfaces for any space. Ultimately, there are available products for every price range in every slab category, so understanding what the consumer is shopping for is key to offering the perfect solution for the sale.
“Young families with active lifestyles and little time for maintenance are looking for a product high in style and design with enhanced durability and without the requirement of sealing year after year,” Thorn-Brooks said. “This allows for an easy sell up to a quality quartz product from, say, an entry-level granite.”