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Lisbiz strategies: Finding new customers in unlikely places

October 15/22, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 9

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

I have a therapist friend whose favorite expression is, “You can’t get chocolate milk in a turnip field.” It may sound silly, but if you’re looking for something specific, you had better know where to find it.

Looking for new business should be on the top of everyone’s list, but I realize it takes some time and effort. Like many retail owners, I’m time-starved so I get it. But this year I’ve been reintroduced to opportunities in the building and remodeling industry. This is an industry that directly connects to the flooring business. For many of you, it’s your bread and butter business.

I recently spoke at the Leading Suppliers Conference (LSC) in Portland, Ore. The LSC was established by the National Association of Home Builders in 1964. The conference serves as a multifaceted supplier resource for the building industry that represents the business interests of its members through advocacy, education and networking. I understood how important this connection was when I realized how many of their members operate in the flooring space.

In addition, I presented a talk on coaching at the Remodeling and Deck Expo in Baltimore earlier this month. The show is managed by Informa Exhibitions, the same folks behind TISE. If you’ve attended this event, you know Informa Exhibitions understands how to put on a great show. While preparing my seminars, I thought, “I don’t come from the remodeling or decking industry. What could I teach them about their business?”

I decided to tell them that no matter what the industry, all businesses have three things in common: How do we make money? How do we hire good people to help us make money? How do we keep them?

Following the seminar, several business owners came up to talk to me about their companies. I felt accepted and that my information was useful to them. The lesson learned here is, if you can establish commonalities with people you’re on the road to building connections.

As a retailer, if you’re seriously looking for new business, consider partnering up with some of your customers. Look for those businesses that are in a position to help you get more business and you can reciprocate. In my mind, the remodeling sector represents a great fit. Findings reported by Metrostudy—a firm that provides market insights to help builders, developers, financial institutions, manufacturers and retailers make informed strategic business decisions, deploy investment capital and improve risk management—predicts this coming year will be great for anyone in the remodeling and building trades.

As a recent market summary showed: “The strong economy and increased demand because of 2017’s natural disasters led Metrostudy, a sister company to Remodeling, to boost its 2018 prediction from the 4.7% rise in activity it forecast three months ago. Metrostudy now predicts there will be 12.57 million projects launched in 2018 that are worth at least $1,000. That’s up from 11.96 million last year.” (As I sat down to write this article, Hurricane Michael had just made landfall in Florida. There may be more business than some retailers can handle.)

Bottom line: Remodelers and builders are your customers; they need your help. Why not start calling builders to attend one of their meetings and find out what they need? Think of how excited your customers will be when they see you’re networking with their builders and understanding the trends in ‘their ‘worlds.