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Marketing mastery: How to take back control of your life

January 21/28, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 17

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(Second of two parts)

 

In part I of this series (FCNews, Jan. 7/14), I outlined why dealers deserve to have an awesome life in flooring. I also provided examples of dealers just like you who have done it.

Unfortunately, many dealers don’t achieve the life they want, and I’ve found the reason why is they don’t have the two-part success formula in place. Part one is making plenty of money so you can grow your business, hire good people and afford a great lifestyle. Part two is having freedom so you’re able to take time off and work the hours you choose.

Let’s cover some of the basic steps I take dealers through to put the success formula in place so they can have the life in flooring they really want.

Step 1: What does your ideal lifestyle look like? When most floor dealers begin their business or take over an existing one, they are totally consumed with growth. A few years down the road, many find they are working 60-plus hours per week, and they don’t have time to do what’s important to them outside of business.

I believe the purpose of your business is to fund and facilitate your ideal lifestyle. So, let’s start by creating your ideal lifestyle on paper. Write down what your ideal week looks like. How many hours would you like to work? What time do you arrive at work? What time do you go home? What do you do with your free time? For example, coach your kid’s sports team, golf every Wednesday, volunteer at your church, hang out with your spouse, train for a marathon, etc. Also include the things you’d really like to do but can’t because you’re too busy or can’t afford it.

In other words, create a clear picture of what you want your ideal lifestyle to look like without any limitations.

Step 2: What needs to change in your business in order to make your ideal lifestyle a reality? For example, let’s say you’re currently working 50 hours per week, and 15 of those hours are spent on the sales floor, including Saturdays.  Furthermore, let’s say that as part of your ideal lifestyle you want to cut your work hours down to 35, quit working weekends and golf every Friday. What needs to change in your business to make this happen? You would write down that you need to hire someone to take over those 15 hours of selling from you, what your revenue needs to be in order to pay for the new hire and a process for delegating.

Step 3: Put your plan in place. Block out several hours each week to begin implementing these changes into your business. You would begin implementing marketing strategies to increase your revenue and creating a plan to delegate your selling responsibilities. Finally, you would recruit your new hire.

Step 4: Enjoy your new life. Obviously, this is an oversimplified example. I would normally do this over several months, the plan would be much more detailed and it would be done in carefully planned stages. However, this gives you the 30,000-square-foot view of what it looks like to take your business from where you are right now to having the awesome life in flooring you truly want and deserve.

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Marketing mastery: Make 2019 your best year ever in flooring

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

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(First of two parts.)

I’ve spoken with many dealers who are unsatisfied or frustrated with some aspect of their business. They say things like: “Jim, I love flooring, but my business isn’t growing the way I want it to; I’m not making enough money; I’m losing customers to the competition; I can’t find good salespeople or installers; I’m working 60 hours or more each week, and I’m stressed out all the time, etc.”

Any of this sound familiar? I know you work hard as a flooring dealer, you provide a valuable service to your customers, you provide employment and you’re an asset to your community. You deserve to have a growing, thriving business that’s rewarding and fun—a place you look forward to going each day where you work the number of hours you choose. You deserve a business that provides you and your family with a great lifestyle, including vacations and weekends off. In other words, you deserve to have an awesome life in flooring.

I’m here to tell you that, whatever your past experiences have been, it is possible to have a great life in flooring, just like the dealers who sent me the following comments:

“I’m working less than 35 hours per week, revenue is up 50%...business is fun again!” —Earl from Saskatchewan

“October was our busiest month in 20 years, November was our second busiest and this month we are crashing new records!”  —Mark, Ill.

“Costa Rica! Blended drinks on the beach with my bride of 25-plus years. We had a blast! Jim, thanks for the motivation to let our store work for us rather than us working for the store.”  —Dan, Mont.

I’ve discovered that almost without exception, dealers who have achieved a great life in flooring have put into place a two-part success formula. The first half of the formula is making plenty of money. Let’s face it, if you don’t have enough money, it’s hard to grow and hire good people, it’s hard to give back and help others, and you can’t afford a great lifestyle for you and your family.

The second half of the formula is having freedom. This means you control your business, not the other way around. If your business has too much control, and has you running around in 20 different directions each day, then you don’t have the freedom to focus on growing, taking vacations or spending all the time you want with your family. You’ll always be stuck on that hamster wheel, running and running, but never moving ahead the way you want to.

There are several steps that go into implementing the success formula, and the first is having the correct mindset. I have found I can give dealers proven, step-by-step strategies for making more money and having more freedom, but those strategies are useless if the dealer believes it’s impossible to work fewer than 60 hours per week, or that wanting to make a lot of money is selfish.

You’ll notice that I began this installment by listing some of the reasons you deserve to have a great life in flooring and then showing you examples of dealers who have achieved it. I did this because I want to help you have the right mindset. Deep down in your gut I want you to really know and feel two things: No. 1 that you deserve a great life in flooring, and No. 2 that it’s possible for you to achieve. Both statements are not only true but necessary in order to get the success you really want.

In the next installment I’ll outline proven steps to help you get there.

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Marketing mastery: Customer appreciation goes a long way

December 10/17, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 14

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

To understand the importance of customer recognition, let’s take a minute and put ourselves in our customer’s shoes. Cathy Consumer is a 35-year-old mother of three, all under the age of 10. She and her husband work full time. Cathy loves her kids and is a devoted mother, but they’re a little weak in the recognition and appreciation department. Maybe they show some appreciation on Mother’s Day and her birthday but the rest of the time her kids rarely appreciate her efforts on their behalf.

Cathy works as an insurance adjuster. Other than her bi-weekly paycheck, her boss doesn’t give her any recognition. The public, whom she deals with during insurance claims, doesn’t give her recognition. Neither do her co-workers.

Her husband, while devoted, is overworked and stressed out. He’s tired all the time and mostly just watches TV in the evenings, so he doesn’t give her as much validation for her efforts as she would like.

Cathy is craving recognition and appreciation, but she’s not getting much of it in her day-to-day life. It’s the same story with many of your customers. Even those who receive sufficient recognition on a day-to-day basis wouldn’t turn down a little more.

If you were the one to give Cathy Consumer and all of your other customers the recognition and appreciation they crave, it would give them great, positive feelings about you and your business. More importantly, it would strengthen their loyalty, so next time they might not be so quick to be seduced by a “free installation” offer by some box store. It would make them more likely to refer you. It would help you create deep connections with your list of past customers.

Let’s look at some customer recognition and appreciation strategies you can put in place immediately.

Beverage menu. After welcoming a walk-in and thanking her for visiting, hand her a beverage menu and ask her what she would like to drink. This will make her feel instantly appreciated, not to mention create total differentiation from competitors.

Handwritten thank-you cards. Send personalized cards to customers after every completed installation. This is something you virtually never see from any business in today’s retail environment.

Customer of the month. In your newsletter and e-newsletters, feature a customer of the month and honor her by sending her out to dinner. People love to see their names in print. Also, people will open your mail to see your next customer of the month.

Acknowledge customers publicly. Thank customers for their business in your newsletter, email and social media. Post photos of their installed floors, along with their comments. Make them into mini celebrities just by buying from you.

Acknowledge referrals. Have a section in your newsletter thanking the people who sent you referrals. Remind everyone of your referral incentive program.

Welcome whiteboard. Put a whiteboard on an easel near your front door. When you know a customer is coming in for an appointment write, “Jimbo’s Floors Welcomes Cathy Consumer” on the board so she sees it when she walks in.

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Marketing mastery: Proceed with caution when purchasing leads

November 26/December 3, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 12

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

The importance of lead generation can’t be overstated in today’s age of online marketing. But beware—not all lead-generation systems are created equal.

Case in point is HomeAdvisor, which is being sued by a group of eight home-improvement companies. The city of San Francisco is also taking HomeAdvisor to court for making false or misleading claims regarding background checks on contractors. Here are just two of the several allegations:

  • The leads sold to the companies are “overwhelmingly bogus” and “illusory” because they are often “over-distributed” or contain, among other things, disconnected phone numbers, people who are not homeowners or contacts for nonexistent residences.
  • When companies cancel their HomeAdvisor membership, HomeAdvisor leaves their company profile page on its website and then sells the information entered by individuals who attempt to contact the company to other HomeAdvisor members.

You might be thinking Angie’s List is a safer bet—think again. Angie’s List, which was acquired by HomeAdvisor in October 2017, faces its own legal challenges. In fact, Angie’s List recently settled a class-action lawsuit for $1.4 million for manipulating search results and reviews.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve spoken with flooring dealers who have bought leads from various “lead-generation” companies and the results are rarely good. For example, one dealer I spoke with was spending $6,000 per month buying leads; 12 months and $72,000 later he wound up with mostly price shoppers. He didn’t even break even.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard many versions of his story from different dealers. I’ve said for years that instead of buying leads from HomeAdvisor and other lead-gen companies, you’d be better off heaping your money into a pile, setting it on fire and roasting marshmallows over it. That way, you’d at least get some use out of your hard-earned dollars.

The conduct of HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List angers me. Retailers are working hard, trying to build their businesses and compete against billion-dollar, multinational corporations who want to put them out of business. Then these lead-gen sales vampires come along and promise dealers lots of leads, then suck them dry with their monthly fees with zero accountability while delivering nothing in return.

When it comes to purchasing leads, let the buyer beware. Here are some points to keep in mind when contemplating purchasing lead-generation services:

  1. You have no control over the quality of leads or “how” they are generated.
  2. Buying leads does not foster long-term relationships with prospects.
  3. Leads sold to you are also sold to your competitors. You will have to call the leads back quickly or you’ll lose them. However, you pay for them regardless.

Another problem is some marketing companies will generate leads using cheap-price come-ons. Any leads generated by this method are predisposed to shop for the cheapest price. So, even if you make a mad-dash to call every lead immediately, many of them will wait to get prices from your competitors.

We all need solid leads to grow. Just be smart about it and remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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Marketing mastery: Best ways to generate unlimited, quality leads

November 12/19, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 11 

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(Last of three parts)

In my last two columns I discussed the pitfalls of buying leads from popular online referral services. I also discussed several proven alternatives to generating high-quality leads. Today I’m going to discuss how to get other businesses to send you an ongoing stream of leads for free.

Every flooring dealer knows how easy it is to work with customers who were referred to your business by someone they trust vs. someone who walked in because they saw your sign or heard a radio ad. Referred leads come in with borrowed trust. Many times they have already made up their minds that they are going to buy from you, so there’s really not much “selling” needed. You’re simply there to guide them through the selection process. They tend to be less price-sensitive and less suspicious. And best of all, they’re free.

If you are like most dealers, you probably have several referral partners already: realtors, designers, remodeling contractors, etc. Think back to one of your superstar referral partners.  How much business do they send to you over 12 months? I know dealers who have earned more than $100,000 in one year from a single referral partner. Not all your partners will be that productive, but let’s run some very conservative numbers: If you had 25 referral partners, and they each sent you a paltry four referral leads per year who bought from you, that’s 100 additional sales. If your average ticket is $3,000, you’re looking at $300,000 in revenue with virtually no marketing costs. If you do $1 million per year in revenue, you could double the size of your business simply by acquiring referral partners.

Getting referral partners
One method I teach dealers is a three-step process that I used to develop over a dozen partnerships in 90 days.

Step 1: Make a list of 25-50 potential referral partners in your area. Send each of them a letter introducing yourself and your business. In the letter tell them about your business, what sets you apart from your competition and that you have an idea that will benefit both of you (a referral relationship). Tell them you will call within one week to schedule a time to meet. I recommend getting creative and attaching a dollar bill or lotto scratcher to the top of the letter to use as an attention grabber. This will generate curiosity so that they’ll read your letter all the way through. Be sure to tie in the grabber with the message in your letter. I recommend sending out no more than 10 letters at a time.

Step 2: Make follow-up calls to all the prospects you sent letters to the previous week. These are not cold calls because you’ve broken the ice by sending them a letter with an attention-grabber, and they’ll be expecting your call. Your only goal with the call is to schedule a meeting.

Step 3: Meet with the prospects for coffee, lunch or at their place of business. Your goal is to develop a rapport with them and find out about how they do business. You also want to educate them on your business, explain why you are different from your competitors and how they will benefit by referring customers to you. Ask them if they are interested in being your referral partner. Get a solid commitment, either yes or no.

By rounding up a herd of referral partners, you can generate an ongoing stream of high-quality leads for your business.

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Marketing mastery: How to generate high-quality leads online

October 29/November 5, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 10

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(Second of three parts)

In my previous column I detailed the many problems dealers face when buying leads from certain lead generation companies as well as why you are better off generating your own leads. I also discussed how any time you generate leads you should begin with the ones you already have: your past customers. Assuming you’re already marketing to your customer list, let’s look at some online lead generation strategies.

Build a strong online reputation. Billy Berber owns Big Billy’s Berber Boutique in Billings, Mont., and has been in business for 20 years. He’s noticed that lately he’s been losing a lot of business to his competitors, Lance’s Luxury Laminates and Wendy’s Wood World. This is puzzling to him because Big Billy’s has a good reputation built on honesty, integrity, great service and quality products. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s possible to have a great offline reputation and simultaneously have a weak online reputation.

When Cathy Consumer Googles flooring in Billings, Mont., and looks at the reviews, Big Billy’s has only a handful, and an average rating of 2.7 stars. On the other hand, Lance and Wendy have dozens of reviews with 4.5 and 4.9 average star ratings, respectively. Billy is losing a steady stream of leads to Lance and Wendy because his online reputation stinks. It doesn’t matter how great of an online lead-generation strategy he puts in place, this problem will hurt results. By having dozens of positive online reviews you’ll not only directly generate leads to your store, but you’ll get better results from all your other lead-generation efforts.

Lead capture on your website. Have you ever visited a cooking website and got a nice-looking pop-up ad that says, “Sign up for free weekly mouth-watering recipes”? Of course, we’ve all seen these kinds of ads. You then enter your name and email to get the free recipes. This offer gets website visitors to raise their hand and say, “Yes, I’m interested in cooking.” The company is building a list of hot leads whom they can market to indefinitely with cooking-related products. This kind of lead generation is used everywhere and in virtually every industry. Why?  Because, regardless of what you and I think about these ads, they work.

My company has implemented this strategy for many floor dealers we work with, and you should implement it for your business. You could have an offer on your website that says, “Free guide reveals the five important things to consider when buying new floors.” Cathy Consumer enters her name and email and gets the guide. We test different ads to see which generate the most opt-ins and you should do the same.

Lead follow up. It’s important to follow up with the leads who opt in for your offer. Research has shown the path-to-purchase for big ticket items averages 79 days. So, after Cathy Consumer opts in, subscribe her to an email follow up campaign so you can stay in front of her throughout that time frame. Every few days send her an email with information that educates her on how to choose a flooring store. Don’t spam her every day with 10%-off coupons, because she’ll opt out of your emails. Send information that helps her in her quest for new floors. This will position you as a trusted advisor.

In the next installment I’ll cover a strategy to get other businesses to send you an ongoing stream of leads for free.

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Marketing mastery: How to generate high-quality leads

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

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(First of three parts)

We all know the pitfalls of “buying” leads from popular online referral services: You have no control over the type (or quality) of leads; you have to influence over how the leads are generated; leads sold to you are often sold to your competitors; and, generally speaking, buying leads does not usually foster long-term relationships with prospects.

Retailers need to generate solid leads to grow their business. That’s a given. So, over the next several installments I’m going to reveal proven lead-generation strategies you can put to work in your own business.

What if I told you I could get you a list of leads that’s superior in every way to purchased leads? These leads are: 1) proven buyers of flooring; 2) folks that trust you more than purchased leads; 3) people who have a shorter path-to-purchase; 4) prospects that are much less likely to haggle over price; 5) consumers who are more likely to send you referrals; and 6) people who are much more pleasant to work with.

Oh, and you can get them for free.

I’m talking about your list of past customers. These are, without a doubt, the highest quality leads on the planet. You can’t buy leads anywhere that even come close to matching the quality of your past customer list. Past customers are like having your own personal gold mine. The problem is, only a tiny minority of dealers ever mine their gold.

It always seems ironic to me when I talk to a dealer who is spending thousands of dollars per year buying leads (e.g., the names and phone numbers of total strangers) while totally ignoring their past customers. That’s insanity. And yet the vast majority of dealers don’t market to their past customers.

However, if this describes you, it’s not entirely your fault. Dealers are subjected to an endless deluge of hype and misinformation put out by marketing companies about the best ways to get new customers. I’ve helped hundreds of dealers to tap their respective gold mines by marketing to their past customers, and the results are sometimes jaw-dropping. I’ve seen dealers come back from the brink of bankruptcy to open a second store, increase their margins and double or triple their revenue over several years.

That’s the power of marketing to your past customers. So, before buying leads, market to the ones you already have. It can change your business and your life. I’ve seen it happen many times.

Power of referrals
When Cathy Consumer begins shopping for floors, it’s almost like she’s expecting a baby. She’s excited about it, she talks to her friends and co-workers about it. It’s a big, happy disruption to her life. In all of her discussions with her circle in the weeks leading up to the purchase and installation, it’s a really good bet that at least one person has said, “Hey, we need new floors, too. Who are you getting yours from? Let us know how they do.”

This is why you should train all of your salespeople to ask for—and generate—referrals from every completed installation. Think about it: you’ve done a great job, provided outstanding service, and Cathy Consumer now has beautiful new floors. She loves you. This is the perfect time to ask for and get referrals.

In the next installment, I’ll cover online strategies for generating high-quality leads from the Internet.

 

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Marketing mastery: Step off the hamster wheel of doom

September 17/24, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 7

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

Many dealers are running on a hamster wheel trying to build their businesses. One month you have plenty of customers coming in and enough money to cover costs; some months you have more work than you can handle. But then a month or two later, your work slows down and you're stressed about where all the flooring jobs have gone. As a result, you run even harder, putting in 50-plus hours per week until you’re overworked. This is what it looks like to run on the hamster wheel.

My goal is for you to step off the hamster wheel and onto solid ground to create consistent cash flow. Here are three mistakes I see dealers do all the time that make it impossible to do this.

Mistake #1: Not using “Before,” “During” and “After” together in a system.

Most dealers are weak in at least two of these steps. For example, many dealers spend tens of thousands of dollars on their “Before” strategies—advertising to get prospects to visit their store. Some dealers do a fairly good job with this, and they generate a decent number of walk-ins, but most don’t buy. In fact, studies show the average dealer only closes about three out of 10 walk-ins. They’re spending a fortune in advertising, but 70% of that money is going to waste. This is because they are weak in the “During” part of the system. They don’t have a strong system for converting a customer visit into a job, so they lose most of them.

To make matters worse, customers who do buy almost never receive ongoing communication from the dealer “After” the sale. These customers get stolen by competitors. The dealer loses that repeat business and their referrals because they have no “After” system in place.

If you’re weak in any of the three areas— “Before,” “During” or “After”—you have holes in your fence, and your customers are being poached by your competition.

Mistake #2: Failure to develop a great online reputation using reviews.

Getting reviews is a “Before” strategy because it’s something you do to attract new customers before they purchase from you. Reviews are critical in today’s business world. More than 90% of consumers read reviews before visiting a business, and 88% trust reviews as much as a referral.

Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that many dealers who have a great offline reputation have a lousy online reputation. For example, Kevin is a dealer from Colorado, and he’s upset because he’s getting up every day trying to build his business and is getting his head handed to him on a stick by the big boxes. He can’t figure out why he’s losing sales. He doesn’t realize it’s because he hardly has any reviews and half of them are bad. When Mrs. Prospect decides she wants flooring, she goes online and within three clicks finds his store, sees his 2.6-star rating and, just like that, he’s off the list.

Mistake #3: The majority of dealers ignore past customers.

Flooring is a relationship business. If you want to maximize your success, you have to build deep, long-lasting relationships with your past customers. Regular communication with your customers is what you do “After” the sale to generate repeat and referral business. The “After” step is critical because box stores are lurking in every city and online, spending millions of dollars in advertising to poach your customers from you.

Correcting these mistakes will help you step off the hamster wheel and generate consistent, growing cash flow.

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.

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Marketing mastery: How to capitalize on consumer interactions

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

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

Every interaction you, your staff and your business have with a prospect or customer is a marketing opportunity. Like it or not, consumers get an impression of you every time they interact with your company.

What kind of impression are you making with each marketing opportunity? Are you compelling them to buy from you even if you’re more expensive? Or are you showing that you are no different than your competition?

Over the last several columns I’ve written, I outlined the ultimate floor marketing system, which consists of three steps: “Before,” “During” and “After.” Let’s look at how the “marketing is everything” principle applies to each step.

Before

This step encompasses your marketing efforts to attract new customers. When most dealers think of attracting new customers, they think of their website, TV, radio, pay-per-click, social media, etc. That’s true, but it’s incomplete. Here are some other considerations:

  • How is your phone answered? I’ve called a lot of dealers and had the name of the business grunted at me by the person answering. Make sure your phones are answered in a way that makes people feel welcomed and creates differentiation from your competition.
  • What does the outside of your building look like? Is your signage clean and free of cobwebs?
  • Are your business vehicles clean? Or do they look like rust buckets?

During

This next step is what you do during the sales process to create differentiation, position yourself as a trusted authority and close more sales. When a consumer walks into a flooring store, too many dealers think only of the sales process itself. Yes, that’s vitally important, but here are other things to consider:

  • Is your showroom clean? Have you curated your products, or is it so jammed with samples people can hardly navigate?
  • Are testimonials from happy customers visible in your showroom? Do you have display monitors showing before and after photos of installations?
  • Are your restrooms clean? Do they look like an interior designer decorated them or more like a gas station restroom?
  • Do you show hospitality to walk-ins? Do you provide them with a beverage menu with different drink options? Do you put cookies or fresh bread out front?
  • Do you conduct a full diagnostic review while in the customer’s home? Do you inspect your customer’s vacuum, walk-off mats and floor-cleaning products? Do you give her written recommendations on getting the longest life out of her floors?

After

This final step is what you do after the installation is complete to create a stream of repeat and referral business.

  • Do you communicate with your past customers? Do you send out a monthly printed newsletter? Do you send them a weekly e-newsletter?
  • Do you have a referral program? Do you reward and thank customers for their referrals?
  • Do you have customer appreciation events? Do you have an annual Christmas party or a summer barbecue in your parking lot or local park?

If every month you implemented one of these strategies, in under a year you’d have them all in place, and you’d create a massive advantage in your market.

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.

 

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Marketing mastery: How to hook customers, keep them coming back

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

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(Last of three parts)

In my last two columns, I outlined the ultimate floor marketing system, which consists of three simple steps: “before,” “during” and “after.” The first step is what you do to attract new customers before they have purchased from you. The second is what you do to get out of the “proposal” business and instead close more sales and get high margins. And the final step is what you do after the sale to create a stream of repeat and referral business.

Following is a deeper dive into the “during” and “after” steps.

During

Studies have shown if 10 people walk into a flooring store, the average dealer only closes three of them. This means dealers are spending a fortune, not to mention a lot of time and energy, getting people to walk in their door or call, but 70% of that money and time is wasted.

The “during” step helps change that by quickly building trust with new prospects. I teach over 21 trust builders. Space won’t permit me to discuss all 21 in this column, but here are several to get you started.

First, after welcoming a prospect to your store, hand her a printed beverage menu. None of your competitors will do this, especially the box stores. This creates instant differentiation and makes them feel welcome.

Second, have a printed list of testimonials from happy customers. Hand this out to everyone who comes in. Testimonials are powerful social proof and will help you close more sales at higher margins.

Third, when you visit the prospect’s home, slip on a pair of medical booties over your shoes. This creates huge differentiation, and without saying a word you’ve communicated that you’re a professional and you care, and you’ll be extra careful while working in her home.

These may sound like simple suggestions but try them. They’ll completely change the way your customer views you. You’ve instantly distinguished yourself from the competition.

After

The “after” step works by using the 90/10 formula. This means sending emails and newsletters containing content that’s 90% fun, informative, welcome, entertaining and educational communication, but only 10% about flooring. Remember, all flooring all the time is boring. You should also include emotional triggers to make people look forward to getting your content. There are lots of effective triggers, but here are two you can start using today in your messages to past customers.

Customer recognition. People love to see their names in print or in emails, and they love to be recognized. Feature a “customer of the month.” People will also be able to see who your “customer of the month” is, so they’ll open your newsletter or email to find out. This creates strong connections and a sense of community. It also demonstrates repeatedly that you appreciate their business.

Customer involvement devices. These get people regularly involved with your business and make them want to read your messages. One effective involvement device we use is a monthly trivia contest, which invites readers to email their answer. Everyone with the correct answer is entered into a drawing for a gift card for dinner or the movies. It also congratulates the previous winner.

If you would like me to provide a complimentary evaluation of your floor marketing system, contact me at support@flooringsuccesssystems.com.

Jim Armstrong specializes in providing turnkey marketing strategies for flooring retailers. For a free copy of his latest book, “How Floor Dealers Can Beat the Boxes Online,” visit BeatTheBoxesOnline.com.