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Dear David: Tracking ‘true’ business performance

September 3/10, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 6

By David Romano

Dear David: 

I need some help understanding what reports to look at to see what is going on in my store. I am good at staying on top of daily things. I look at my bank balance, try to stay on top of receivables, check out sales reports and pay attention to my profit and loss statement. What else should I be looking at?

Dear Uniformed Owner,

Providing a list of reports and how often you should review them is the easy part. It’s going to be more difficult to convince you that what you are currently doing isn’t very effective.

You’re simply looking at data from the past and reacting to things in the now instead of using that information to create the shortest, most efficient route to get where you want to be. This is more about your philosophy and less about my reporting advice. Nonetheless, here are a few suggestions from your peers who participated in Benchmark Group’s surveys over the years:

Financials. Cash flow should be looked at daily. Accounts receivable (aging and by sales associate), job cost (by sales associate) and open orders (by sales associate) should be checked weekly. Profit and loss (compared to last year and to budget) as well as budget (monthly and YTD comparison) should be looked at by the 15th of the following month. Balance sheets and advertising investment (cost of advertising per new customer) should be looked at monthly.

Sales. Quotes should be checked daily. Average ticket (by associate, store and business segment) and open orders should be looked at weekly. Gross profit and close rates should be checked monthly. Written sales, delivered sales and traffic should all be reviewed daily and monthly by sales associate, store, business segment and vs. goal.

Operations. Customer service (callbacks, average days to resolve issues and money to resolve issues) should be reviewed daily. Claims (by vendor, aging, status, total number, numbers open and closed, and money collected and open) should be looked at weekly. Inventory reconciliation and change orders (per sales associate, crew and money collect and lost) must be looked at monthly.

Merchandising. Sales and gross profit, sales per sales associate, turn rate, aging, open-to-buy, gross margin return on investment and stock performance should all be reviewed monthly.

You’re now probably overwhelmed and realize this list is impossible to track, especially if you assume that only you are the collector and analyst. Remember, you have a team of people to help run your business.

If you allocate each of these reports to the appropriate staff and give them due dates, this is palatable. It is also critical each of the assigned individuals understands they are responsible for not only reporting the data, but also understanding what caused the performance as well as providing suggested improvements. You should also check with your sales reps at RFMS, Pacific Solutions or Rollmaster, as they have all gotten much better at providing this type of reporting.

This leaves you with the most important part of all: You would be required to be an owner and not a firefighter. An owner who believes that preventing fires is more important than putting them out. An owner who believes that proactive is more effective than situational leadership. Being an entrepreneur is already difficult; making uniformed and rash decisions only makes things worse.

David Romano, formerly the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting, is currently the director of Dallas-based Romano Group. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Dear David: Be the higher thinker

August 20/27, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 5

By David Romano

Dear David: 

I am getting fed up with my new batch of employees. When I give them an inch, they want a mile. Last week, two of my sales associates cornered me and told me the rest of the staff is upset because I stopped giving them pizza on Saturdays. They then complained for another 30 minutes on so many little things that I felt like firing them both. When is enough, enough?  

Dear Frustrated Owner,

There are two ways you can look at your situation. You can get frustrated because your staff doesn’t think like you or understand the demands of the workforce have changed and learn how to gain an advantage. What you are describing is the quintessential case of give and take and a bit of return on investment.

Jim Rohn, an author and motivational speaker who passed away in 2009, was groundbreaking in teaching the value of having a positive philosophy. He talks about how the secret to success is accepting external factors and getting the most you can from what you are given. This is the same with your situation as you cannot change the philosophy of an entire generational workforce—one that will represent 80% of all workers by 2025.

One of Rohn’s philosophies centers around his concept of “being a higher thinker.” He tells a story about getting his shoes shined and the amount he decided to tip. If he gave a $1 tip, he would feel a sense of guilt and frugality every time someone commented on how nice his shoes looked. If he left a $2 tip, every time someone commented on his nicely shined shoes he would feel a sense of euphoria that he “took care” of the shoe shiner for a job well done. That is what he calls a higher thinker—someone who when given the choice will give a little more to get much more in return. For him, the feeling of giving just one more buck paid him back much more in his positive attitude and philosophy.

This philosophy was life changing for me. I stopped looking at how tight I could be to generate profits, but how I could give just a little more to make a lot more. With employees, I paid them more, gave them more and cared more about them. In return they gave more, produced more and cared more.

Just like you, my staff came to me asking for things I thought were unimportant and miniscule. Beanbag chairs, pot-luck lunches, wine Fridays, outdoor benches, ping pong table, pets at work, disco music, etc. I almost always gave them what they wanted so I could get what I wanted—higher productivity and increased employee morale. The offset of my moderate additional expense and their substantial increase in output was staggering.

If you remove emotion and apply logic to your situation, you should see that providing pizza and the other small things are a no brainer. If you buy five pizzas every Saturday, your investment will be less than $100 per occasion or $434 a month (4.34 weeks per month). Now, let’s assume those pizzas provided some motivation and desire for the sales staff to care and do more. If those slices increased the close rates by 2% and the average ticket by 2%, you would experience a 4% increase in your sales. If your sales are $200,000 per month, that would be an increase of $4,000. With a profit margin of 40%, your bank would see an increased monthly deposit of $1,600. Subtracting the $434 provides a 268% return on investment.

To your last question: Enough is enough when what you give your team produces enough of what you want. Instead of stewing about their demands, focus on the advantages of providing them.

David Romano, formerly the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting, is currently the director of Dallas-based Romano Group. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Dear David: You get what you demand

August 6/13, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 4

By David Romano

Dear David: 

I was talking to some of my peers and the conversation was centered around getting better deals from vendors. I heard about good deals, so I reached out to some of my vendors, but the deals I got were not that good. Do you have suggestions? 

Dear Passive Owner,

I’m sure you know the saying, “You get what you ask for.” I look at it a bit differently: You get what you logically demand. Knowing what one deserves isn’t quantifiable or achievable, and what you ask may be farfetched, but a logical demand creates deeper thought a vendor must consider if they are to continue to earn your business.

Coming up with what you demand is more complicated than you think. It involves research, feedback from peers/staff, rehearsal time and confidence. Previous and forecasted purchase volume and payment history are all things that will come into play. More importantly, if you go into these conversations without the idea that you are going to get exactly what you demand, you are dead in the water because it is likely the rep on the other end of the phone is more experienced. Your job is to convince this person what you want is a logical decision and if they don’t succumb to your demand, it will hurt them.

Without a threat to your opponent, your words will be nothing but hot air. What you demand must be substantially better than the alternative, and the alternative must be better than your current situation.

Following are sources for substantial savings.

Credit card processing fees. These vendors are fierce competitors and will do whatever it takes to win your business. Provide a limited number of monthly transactional statements to some vendors and the battle will begin. When you get the best rate, go and demand they beat the rate of the lowest bidder.

Cell phone carriers. If you are with Verizon, shop AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. When you get the best rate, which is most likely T-Mobile, go back to Verizon and demand they match the rate or you will take your business to T-Mobile. You must be willing to pull that trigger if you threaten to leave. Make sure you research the cost of new phones and conversion costs.

Payment terms. If your payment history has been consistently on time, you should be successful. Think about it this way: If you have a commercial or builder account that gives you a million dollars of business a year, and they tell you that you need to increase your terms and offer them an early-pay discount, or they will use another provider, would you say no? I don’t think so, because losing this business would hurt you more than it would help them.

Company/auto insurance. This must be done each year as driving records, vehicles, number of submitted claims and laws change. There are websites where you can put your policy out to bidders and you will receive numerous quotes well below your current policy. Make sure the coverages are identical and be aware the policy offered may be only a first-year offer.

Accounting services. You may have been using the same accountant for a decade and consider them a friend, but business is business. Shop for other CPAs. If you find a better value, let your accountant know. If this relationship and as tight as you think, a better rate will be offered.

The combined effect of demanding what is logical from all your vendors can be the difference between earning a living vs. building wealth.

David Romano, formerly the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting, is currently the director of Dallas-based Romano Group. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Dear David: How to say motivated in running your business

July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2

By David Romano

 

Dear David: 

Is losing interest in running my business normal? I have been in the flooring industry for nearly three decades and as the years go by, I find myself less interested in going to work and every idea I hear on how to make things better seems like too much work. I feel trapped because I cannot sell the business, but I need to earn an income.

Dear Burned-Out Owner,

You are not alone. In fact, if anyone who owns a business has told you they’ve never experienced this feeling, they’re lying. The key is to find that one thing, or combination of many things, that provides your “chi.” The drive to not only keep going, but the motivation to own a better version of your company each year.

Here are some things that have worked for me as well as some tips from Forbes and the Harvard Business Journal.

Schedule personal time to recharge.Too often, business owners don’t allow time for themselves. Ask yourself what you’ve always wanted to do that you’ve never done, and what you have done in the past that has given you joy. Then go and do it and don’t feel guilty. After all, there is quantifiable evidence that owners who take more than a month off each year run larger and more profitable companies than their peers.

Seek out a mentor.No matter your age or experience, there is always someone who knows more than you. You can hire a business coach, reach out to someone in your network whom you’ve always admired or connect with people in your field through industry organizations and/or social media.

Delegate parts of your business.Consider assigning the work you don’t enjoy to someone else. Sometimes it seems easier to do it yourself, but the long-term effects lead to burnout.

Focus on your relationships.When you start losing that loving feeling for your work, you may start pulling away from the people around you. But that’s one of the worst things you can do. Those relationships are what will help you feel energized and inspired.

Introduce innovation.Disenchantment often stems from monotony. If you’ve been doing things a certain way at work from the start, think about how you can introduce innovation.

Throw yourself into marketing.If work has been boring, maybe you need to challenge yourself to find ways to attract new business. Perhaps because you haven't been trying to bring in new customers, you’ve been going through the motions.

Stop doing the parts of your job you hate.Maybe you love interacting with customers but hate number crunching. Perhaps you need to unload some of the grunt work you've taken on so you can work on more of the big-picture tasks that will help your business grow. No matter what activities your business requires, you can always find a way to do more of what you love.

Take up a hobby.If running your business seems to be a 24/7 venture, maybe you need to carve out more of a life outside of it. The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology came out with a study of about 350 people with a variety of jobs and hobbies, as well as a second group of 90 U.S. Air Force captains, and found the more people engaged with a hobby, the more likely they were to be better problem solvers.

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Dear David: Affordable perks to offer millennial employees

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By David Romano

 

Dear David: 

I just spent the past couple weeks interviewing people for two retail sales positions. Most of the people I interviewed were less than 30 years old and a lot of them asked some very weird questions about benefits. I know you owned a recruiting company for the flooring industry and I was wondering if you could help me. Do I really need to give employees free food, memberships to gyms and be so flexible on hours worked? It seems pretty silly to me because I didn’t need any of that when I was that age and neither did my older employees. 

Dear Owner,

What you experienced in those interviewers is what all companies are now facing. The mix of benefits desired by today’s workforce is much different than past generations. The time to get on the bus and change how you think is now. In fact, according to a study conducted by Deloitte Consulting in 2018, 66% of millennials expect to leave their organizations by 2020.

Companies are at risk of losing a large percentage of their next-generation talent if they fail to adjust. That’s why cultivating workplace culture and incentives that keep employees happy and productive is critical.

One solution to consider for overcoming the millennial retention issue is company perks. Perks pack the potential to attract new and retain existing millennial talent. In the same Deloitte study, it was found that 64% of millennials care about company benefits (compared to 54% of Generation X and 51% of baby boomers). Perks and benefits are the No. 2 thing behind culture and values that millennials want to know about a company. According to Perkbox, 69% of 18-to-24-year-old millennial employees say company perks are crucial to job satisfaction, compared to about half of baby boomer employees.

Following are what millennials listed as important perks.

Travel perks. According to a study led by Harris Group, 72% of millennials prefer spending money on travel and social events. Allowing your employees to travel for vacation will make them love working for your company. They will also feel less stressed.

Flexible hours. Millennials value personal time. According to a recent study on The Cost of Millennial Retention, 45% of millennials chose flexibility over higher pay. There is no reason to have your entire sales staff come in at 9 a.m. and leave at 6 p.m. Let some come in later and some work from home.

Offer free food. Many companies are picking up the tab for meals. Other companies also found that free food during meetings and on Fridays encouraged more employee productivity and attendance.

Training and team-building. Millennials are proud to describe themselves as life-long learners. Team-building activities are ways to relieve stress and keep work relationships strong. Sandler Sales classes, bringing top sales associates to education day events at conventions and staff bowling nights should help.

Gym membership, spa or yoga. A healthy employee is a happy employee—and happy employees get the job done. Millennials are one of the most health-conscious generations. If you want to keep them, wellness programs will help.

Off-site charity events. Many millennials believe companies should contribute toward a good cause. If your company hosts off-site charity events from time to time, you’ll likely attract millennials and generate good press at the same time.

David Romano, formerly the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting, is currently the director of Dallas-based Romano Group. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Dear David: Effective management tips for all generations

May 28/June 4, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 25

By David Romano

Dear David: 

I’ve been a general manager for the last 11 years and make it a point to attend educational events at conventions focusing on managing a millennial team. My struggle is that I’m having just as many problems managing my older staff. Do you have any suggestions on how I can manage my team regardless of age?

Dear General Manager,

There are many nuisances to managing different generational teams, but effectively managing a team is pretty basic. Ironically, managers in some of my organizations were having similar difficulties. However, once they adopted the following concepts, their ability to manage their teams improved.

Be courageous. A leader’s courage is based upon his knowledge of subject matter, confidence in his abilities and understanding of his functional role. Employees will not tolerate being told what to do by a manager who does not possess self-confidence.

Maintain self-control. Be in control of your actions, especially in pressure-filled situations. Without self-control, you cannot lead effectively. Self-control sets an example for your personnel. This is a case of “Do as I say” and “Do as I do.”

Be consistently fair. Employees expect to be treated fairly. If they do not have a sense that their treatment is measured, fair and just, they will not pay you the respect you need.

Make clear, decisive decisions. An indecisive manager broadcasts to the staff that he is not sure of himself. Be clear, be decisive and stick with your decision. You may not always make the correct decision, but you will be respected in making one and following through.

Plan effectively. You’ve probably heard Joe Paterno’s quote, “The failure to plan is planning to fail.” A manager who works reactively without definite plans is comparable to a plane without landing gear—it will land, but the result will be everything from bumpy to disastrous and fatal.

Over-deliver on expectations. Always lead by example. People don’t care as much about what you say as they care about what you do and how you go about doing it. A leader must be willing to do more than they demand.

Have a pleasant demeanor. Being rude and overbearing is not a quality anyone should have. Leadership demands respect, both of others and of you. Staff will not respect a leader who does not conduct himself in a proper manner.

Be firm but empathetic. A leader must understand his people and their problems. Remember, the customer is always right, except on occasions when she is wrong. As leader, there will be times when you must defend your staff.

Pay attention to detail. In retail, it’s important for you to see the store through the guests’ eyes and through the staff’s eyes. Remain vigilant and look for ways to improve the customer’s experience and make your staff’s functions easier.

Cooperation is key. A successful leader understands cooperation and applies it consistently. He uses cooperation as part of his standard operating procedure and, through his example, causes his followers to do the same. Do not confuse cooperation with weak command and control. A weak leader will only gain cooperation begrudgingly.

David Romano, formerly the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting, is currently the director of Dallas-based Romano Group. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Dear David: Secret to sales success—Rarely be yourself

April 30/May 7, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 23

By David Romano

Dear David: 

I just don’t understand why I spend so much money getting people in the door and less than half of them buy something. My salespeople are paid a commission, so they should be motivated. They are all experienced and well trained. My prices are competitive. My selection is the best in the market. What is going wrong? 

Dear Blinded Owner,

Let’s start this off with an important ratio: Success in business is 15% what you know and 85% how you interact and get along with others. You can have the most experienced, well-trained sales team on the planet, but until they understand this ratio, you’ll continue to have issues closing customers.

I was once introduced to the DISC method and was blown away with the concept. DISC teaches a key element: Don’t treat others the way you want to be treated, treat them the way they want to be treated. In other words, find out one’s personality style, adapt your basic style and use your persuasive skills to manipulate someone into doing what you want them to do.

In a sales relationship, the other person doesn’t care what you like or don’t like, they don’t care how you want to be talked to or treated— they care most about how you are treating them. Some like a hard close, while others prefer soft; some like a close that highlights what a great choice they are making; some decide on the spot and others need some time. Get this right and manipulating a customer to a sale will be a whole different ball game.

According to DISC, there are four types of personality styles and the percentages of the population they represent: D—Outgoing and task focused (10%); I—Outgoing and people focused (25% to 30%); S—Reserved and people focused (30% to 35%); C—Reserved and task focused (20% to 25%).

My basic style is a D/I blend, and I represent less than 4% of the population. What does that all mean? If I treat everyone the way I want to be treated, I would alienate 96% of those I encounter. I spend a majority of my time being someone I am not—I figure out the customer, I flip a mental switch and temporarily become just like the person in front of me.

This is your biggest issue: Your sales associates are treating your customers the way they want to be treated. Here is some data to back up my conclusion. The highest segment of the population is an “S” type (30% to 35%), and the average close rate in the industry is (30% to 35%). If your “S” sales associates talk the same language to your “S” customers, you should close at the same ratio—assuming your prices, services and selection are competitive.

The solution to your dilemma is simple—your sales associates need to be trained in DISC and use those skills, along with the other intangibles you mentioned, and I guarantee you will see a difference in your close rates. They will be able to identify personality cues with just a handshake and subtle mannerisms. When doing measures, they will gain insights by the type of pictures on the walls and how the home is organized. Those cues and flipping a switch to match the customer’s style will lead to both higher close rates and average tickets.

David Romano, formerly the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting, is currently the director of Dallas-based Romano Group. He writes frequently on hiring and sales training, Contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Dear David: Effective ways to better manage your time

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By David Romano

Dear David: 

In one of your columns you stated the No. 1 motivating factor to happy employees is a sense of accomplishment. I guess that is why I feel so burnt out and frustrated. It seems the longer I own my business, the less I get marked off my to-do list each day. Any advice you can give on how to get more done would be greatly appreciated.  

Dear Normal Owner,

You are not alone. The good news regarding your dilemma is it is completely mental. You create it—and anything you create you can manage. It’s time to remove any self-sabotage or self-limitation you have around starting a new project or improving what you are currently doing.

There are countless techniques that can be covered such as the use of a “do not disturb” sign on your office door, doing a better job of delegating the small stuff, to turning off your phone or email for extended periods throughout the typical workday. I have outlined several proven techniques that have made a real difference in my life when it comes to juggling multiple businesses while still having time to spend with my family and friends.

Plan ahead. Take the last 30 minutes of every day to plan your next day. Don’t end your current workday until you’ve completely outlined what you need to get done and in what order for the next day. The most important part of your day is the time you set aside to schedule time.

Make a list. Create a Kanban board listing what you have to do, what you are currently doing and what is already done. Better yet, paint a wall with chalkboard or whiteboard paint and section it off into the three grids. Use post-it notes and place a new task on “to do.” Move it to the “doing” section when it is being worked on, and then to “done” when completed. This board is a great visual that is always top of mind and hard to forget what needs to be done.

Time box your tasks. Time boxing refers to containing your tasks within fixed time slots. For example, box task A from 9 a.m.–10:30 a.m., task B from 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m. and task C from 2 p.m.–4 p.m., etc. Time boxing helps you stay disciplined and prevents your tasks from dragging on.

If you set a specific time frame and strictly adhere to it, you will find a way to get the work done. Note: Set a time that is challenging, yet achievable. If a task takes three hours, don’t allocate more time than it requires. Box for three hours or less so you can learn to optimize your output during the time frame.

Use the 80/20 rule. This rule states 80% of output is brought about by 20% of effort. The remaining 20% of output is achieved by putting in 80% of effort.

Let’s say you have a report due; but, in order to produce the best report possible, you need 100 hours. According to the rule, you can get 80% of the quality in by spending 20 hours (20% of 100 hours). In order to boost the report’s quality to 100%, you’d have to spend 80 hours (80% of the time). From an effectiveness standpoint, that doesn’t cut it. The 80/20 rule tells us to get 80% of quality in and chuck the remaining 20% since the time needed doesn’t justify the value we get. You can keep revising something to perfection, but that time is probably better spent working on a new task.

David Romano is the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting. He is currently the director of Romano Group, headquartered in Dallas. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Dear David: Achieving a better work-life balance

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By David Romano

 

Dear David:

I purchased two flooring stores from my parents about 10 years ago. My wife works alongside me and we have two children. Growing up, I watched my parents spend most of their time inside the store, which took a toll on my childhood and their well-being. I swore I would not let that happen to my family, but I find myself doing the same thing. Help me break this pattern before this business breaks me.

Dear Owner,

You are not alone. A recent study by Family Living Today and Now Sourcing uncovered surprising statistics about work-life balance across the country. Right now, the United States ranks 30th out of 38 countries that have positive work-life balance. Maybe that’s because, according to the research, more than 11% of American workers say they work 50 or more hours a week, and 66% do not believe they have a healthy work-life balance. In fact, many people (33%) also find themselves working weekends or holidays.

According to the same study, some of the short-term effects at home of a poor work/life balance include: 38% lack of  focus and engagement at home; 51% missed important life events; 40% ruined time spent with family/friends (conference calls, called away from activities); and 50% less time with friends and family.

Some short-term effects at work include: 36% poor productivity; 68% poor morale; and 41% feeling burnt-out or fatigued.

What’s even more alarming are the long-term health effects for employees working over 55 hours per week: higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke; higher risk of anxiety (1.74x) and depression (1.66x); higher stress and cortisol levels throughout the day when expected to be available to work on their off-hours.

Here are some things that can be done:

Switch off your phone. Checking updates and emails during your time off interrupts your relaxation and stresses out your body.

Make time for exercise. Physical activity boosts energy and concentration and is usually the first thing scratched from your schedule when you are busy.

Eliminate the extras. People who are overworked tend to overwork themselves. I recommend painting a Kanban chart on  your office wall organizing tasks, with “to do,” “doing” and “done.” This will allow you to keep track of tasks, become more efficient and feel comfortable walking away from the office when everything you set out to do for the day is done.

Delegate. This is normally the Achilles heel of small business owners. There is glory in being involved in every facet of your business and putting in more hours than everyone else. However, studies have shown no correlation between working longer and harder and the profitability of a business. The most successful entrepreneurs own a business and not a job and spend their time managing people and process. Once you build a strong, self-reliant team with detailed job descriptions and dashboards your life will change in an instant.

The E-Myth Foundation found that business owners who took more than one month vacation each year were both more efficient and more profitable than those who took less time. Spend individualized time with each member of your immediate family every year. This allows for bonding and an appreciation for those who have sacrificed for the good of your career.

David Romano is the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting. He is currently the director of Romano Group, headquartered in Dallas. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Dear David: First impressions of your showroom count

August 14/21: Volume 32, Issue 5

By David Romano

Dear David:
Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.37.51 AMI have tried just about everything to get my sales associates to better organize the floor but nothing seems to work. I know we need to look better, but there is only so much I can do myself and I cannot afford to hire a cleaning company to come each night to clean and organize the showroom. Any thoughts?

Dear Fed Up Owner,
I am sorry to hear that your sales staff is giving you such fits when it comes to cleaning and organizing the showroom floor. The first thing I suggest you do is make them aware that keeping the showroom in good working order is their job. Many times they push back and say they are paid to sell and not clean; I push back and say if they are not clean they wouldn’t sell anything. Here are common situations to avoid when organizing your showrooms.

  • Dirty bathrooms. Restrooms should always be sparkling clean, whether they are open for public use or not. Make sure to stock the bathrooms with plenty of paper products, soap, trash receptacles and clean it daily
  • Bad quality of the floors. If you sell flooring and your floors are dirty, worn, scratched, missing transitions or outdated, how in the world do you expect people to want to buy from you?
  • Loud music. Playing music in a retail store can help create a certain atmosphere for your shoppers. However, music that is too loud, inappropriate or of poor quality can ruin a positive shopping experience
  • Handwritten signs. In this era of technology, there is no excuse for displaying handwritten signage and price tags. Printed versions simply look more professional, and hard-to-read handwriting can be a customer turn-off.
  • Stained ceiling tiles. Ugly ceiling tiles can turn off many shoppers. Who wants to buy products for their home from a company that cannot even clean their ceiling?
  • Poor lighting. Replace any burned out light bulbs as soon as possible. Make sure all customer areas of the store have ample lighting and take into consideration shoppers with aging or less than perfect eyesight.
  • Offensive odors. Shoppers don’t want to smell an employee’s lunch drifting across the store or musty carpet that should have been replaced 10 years ago. Use neutralizers to combat any offensive odors or remove the source of the aroma altogether.
  • Crowded aisles. Consumers like a wide selection, but not if it means sacrificing comfort while shopping. Be sure your store is designed to allow adequate space between aisles and keep walkways free of merchandise.
  • Poorly maintained parking lot or exterior. Overgrown bushes and grass, old signage, litter or a poorly maintained façade is sure to send folks back to their cars before entering the store. Send out the warehouse guy every morning to take care of the exterior and hire professionals to maintain the building appearance.

To avoid the above scenarios, I recommend you create a “zoned” maintenance plan where you split the showroom up into regions and assign certain duties to your sales and reception staff. Each morning assign a zone to at least one member of the team outlining the areas to be maintained and provide a checklist to ensure everything is in good condition and well organized. More importantly, be sure to be consistent in the execution. At first it might seem like a lot of work but over time it will be very easy for employees to maintain. Remember, you pay them to clean up after themselves.

 

David Romano is the founder of Romano Consulting Group and Benchmarkinc, a group that provides consulting, benchmarking,
recruiting and software solutions to the flooring, home improvement and restoration industries.