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Promoting the project vs. the product

Savvy dealers share their top tips to successful cross-category selling

January 7/14, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 16

By Leah Gross

 

In many cases—and perhaps by default—some retail salespeople focus on a singular product or a particular room of the home when the customer walks through the door seeking a quote. However, experts say this approach doesn’t always address the homeowner’s multiple needs. Worse, it limits the opportunity to boost the value of the ticket.

FCNews asked several retailers how they go about packaging the complete remodeling project by either presenting options for multiple rooms or cross selling complementary product categories. Following are some tried-and-true tips:

No. 1
Make sure you have the right people in place
“In order to sell a project vs. a single product you have to hire designers, not flooring consultants,” said Rob Menefee, president, Flooring America, Fairfax, Va. “By nature of what they do, designers know how to pull a room together. They have training and backgrounds in areas including cabinetry, painting, countertops, cabinets, tile, etc. When a customer comes into your store with a need, she is looking for guidance and hand holding. Aligning her with experts who understand interior design will instill a confidence and comfort level, leaving her open to discuss her overall needs, budgets and lifestyle.”

No. 2
Convey the fact you are the experts
“With all the various product categories available at retail today, the consumer is often overwhelmed with too many choices and not enough reliable information,” said Terry Zameroski, owner, ProSource of Chicagoland, Elk Grove Village, Ill. “Our job as a specialty flooring store is to develop a quick level of comfort and trust.”

ProSource presents consumers with three product category options: floors, cabinets and countertops. With a broader selection of items from which to choose, management believes customers feel relaxed—not rushed—and are able to focus on their vision for the remodel. “We see our role as assisting, not selling,” Zameroski explained. “It is critical our account managers be seen as the experts in the eyes of our customers—this reinforces trust and breaks down the typical salesperson stereotype. To help ensure this, we offer monthly product knowledge classes that are designed around specs and design trends. We also send our team to the mills so they can see the manufacturing process as well as installation. This translates to sound information delivered to clients, which allows them to make financial decisions that lead to long-term satisfaction and fewer claims down the road.”

No. 3
Glean critical information during the qualification process
In order to help ease the selection process for its customers, ProSource relies heavily on the qualifying process. “When you ask the right questions up front about the overall project—such as timing, budget, application and lifestyle— then you get a real feel for the best solution, which many times is multi-pronged across categories,” Zameroski said.

No. 4
Ask all the right questions
May’s Lone Star Flooring in Atlanta, Texas, specializes in flooring (including stained concrete), countertops and showers. This offering presents a world of opportunities when quoting the customer. “When a customer comes in wanting to pull up her bathroom floor, we always ask about her shower, too,” Shelley Faulknor, store manager, explained. “If she comes in wanting new counters in her kitchen, a backsplash is also presented.”

No. 5
Leverage vendor/contractor partnerships
With great partnerships come great leads. This is especially true when it comes to dealers who depend on their contractors or vendor partners to help execute multi-faceted projects. “If we have a customer doing a complete remodel, we reach out to our contractor partners that do cabinets, paint—whatever is necessary,” May’s Lone Star Flooring’s Faulknor said. “We have found our relationships with local contractors to be very reciprocal in that they send people they come across into our store to oversee the whole project. We’re always happy to do it. As long as you are friendly, helpful and confident in what you sell—success follows.”

No. 6
Utilize available tools and resources
Being in the Carpet One co-op has opened up untold expansion opportunities for retailers such as Jan Tudor, owner, Tudor Carpet One Floor & Home, Valparaiso, Ind. By virtue of its membership in the group—coupled with end-user demand in its local market—the company has been able to diversify over the years and grow its business accordingly. The company entered the cabinet arena about three years ago and has since evolved into a full-service store serving both new construction as well as remodeling clientele. “In terms of expanding your inventory and growing your business, Carpet One has provided great training and the resources to share with other members and exchange information,” Tudor explained. “I have gained knowledge that I couldn’t have acquired on my own.”

No. 7
Never stop learning
Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland, Mich., doesn’t define itself as a “multi-faceted store.” As Cathy Buchanan, owner, puts it: “We are a flooring store that also offers window treatments as an optional purchase.”

Her secret to success? Investing in the ongoing education of her sales staff. “First and foremost, we consider ourselves experts in flooring. We research and train in all aspects, and we know every product we sell inside and out.”

No. 8
Display complementary categories accordingly
At Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, window treatments are a relatively new addition to the product mix. To ensure consumers are made aware, displays are positioned accordingly. “When clients are in our store, our window department is well positioned,” Buchanan stated. “In addition, we frequently ask our customers if they would like for us to provide free measurements and estimates for new windows when we measure their home for their new flooring.”

Flooring America’s Menefee takes a similar tack. “To be successful, you have to carefully curate the products you display in your showroom. Every single product you sell should have the appearance of being a market leader in each particular category.”