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Dead David: How to make customers feel more special

March 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 20

By David Romano


Dear David:
I am getting concerned that competing on price and products is getting more and more difficult in the flooring industry. I feel confident we do a better job than most when it comes to installation, but I am not sure if that is enough to attract and retain customers. What would you suggest we do to provide a guest experience that is both different and memorable?

Dear Inquisitive Owner,
Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 10.37.51 AMGood customer service is expected and necessary for a retail business to thrive. But when we service customers in ways they don’t expect, we create a wow factor that sets us apart from the competition. In today’s retail environment that is a necessity. Customers don’t want their expectations met anymore; they want them exceeded.

This may seem simple and obvious, but in the hustle and bustle of daily work it’s often overlooked. Wowing your customers involves going the extra mile to create a memorable, delightful experience. Satisfy customers by providing the service or product your customers pay for in a timely fashion. Then wow them by going beyond their expectations and provide additional value. Here’s how to do it.

Do what you said you were going to do. The first step to wowing your customers is not upsetting them. That starts with doing exactly what you said you were going to do, without exception. Remember, 95% of issues encountered are directly related to not setting proper expectations. It is important to ensure expectations set by the sales associate and customer flow through quote to installation.

Follow up when they least expect it. If you get the element of surprise on your side, it’s easy to wow a customer. Pick up the phone and ask how everything is going: How was the sales process? How did installers do? Ask for suggestions on how things could have been done better. This has two distinct benefits. No. 1, it lets you know early on if she is having any problems. No. 2, if everything is great the customer has the satisfaction of knowing you’re thinking about her and you care.

Give them more than expected. Everyone loves to feel like they are getting a good value, and any small thing beyond the norm that a business can offer customers is a plus. For example, leave a baggie of grout with the color specified, leave some additional carpet or a few pieces/box of wood for repairs, place a sticky note on her bathroom mirror thanking her for the bathroom project, vacuum the carpet, wear booties, cover the floors, etc.

Offer them something they didn’t know they needed. Here’s your opportunity to consider the upsell, but you can approach it in a delicate way. It’s important to make sure your customer knows about everything you offer, in case she has a need she didn’t realize your company could fill. Sell her area rugs with wood floors, upgrade the cushion to a moisture barrier if she has pets or kids, sell heating elements for cold tile floors, push window coverings or cabinets, etc.

Express your gratitude. There are plenty of creative ways to thank people for their business and it doesn’t have to be complicated to make a big impact. The key is to put in the effort and do it. Send a cookie cake with a thank you message with your logo, give a date night package and if the transaction is large enough a quick vacation getaway which she will always associate with her flooring purchase.

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Marketing mastery: Commanding margins of 40% to 50% or more

Volume 28/Number 6; September 1/8, 2014

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

(Bonus seventh part)

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 11.30.25 AMIn the previous installment we covered the importance of having a sales closer system, and the four critical jobs this kind of system will do for you. In summary, a good sales closer system will give you total control of the sales process, quickly weed out price shoppers, create total differentiation from your competitors and cause prospects to switch from shopper to buyer while they are still in your store.

The vast majority of flooring salespeople have not been given a step-by-step sales process that walks prospects down a logical path from shopper to buyer. They haven’t been trained in a written process that can be learned and measured for results and in which they can be held accountable. As a result, most salespeople wing it, which leaves far too much to chance.

First, when a customer comes into your store, don’t use typical greetings like, “How may I help you?” or “What kind of flooring did you have in mind?” This puts the customer in charge of the sales process, creates no differentiation from your competitors and causes premature price discussions. Instead, say something like, “Welcome to Jimbo’s Floors!  Are you a new or returning customer? A new customer! Excellent! We have a special program for new customers. Can I take a minute to tell you about it?” Your “program” is your step-by-step sales closer system. Done correctly, 90% to 95% of walk-ins will say yes. This gives the salesperson instant control of the process and creates total differentiation.

Build value in the mind of the prospect for the sales process. For example, explain how there are thousands of flooring products and your process will help narrow it down to the best product for her unique situation and lifestyle.

Sit down with her and ask her questions about her lifestyle, level of traffic, the kind of flooring she currently owns, how she has maintained it, etc. Write down the answers.

If a prospect is unwilling to go through these steps, that’s a good indication she is a price shopper, and you may not want to invest a lot of time with her. Proceed with caution.

When the salesperson visits a customer’s home to measure, he should be trained to not only get measurements, but also to inspect the prospect’s vacuum, walk-off mats, cleaning methods, etc. He should also give written recommendations on floor maintenance. This creates total differentiation and further positions the salesperson as a trusted advisor.

Your entire process should be written out, including sales scripts for each stage of the process.

A word of warning: This kind of system has been proven to work. But occasionally a dealer will tell me that many of his walk-ins won’t go through the process. Invariably, upon further questioning, I find out the dealer is not using sales scripts, or in some other way is messing up the process. So if you get pushback from a high percentage of walk-ins, don’t assume they are all price shoppers. And don’t give up on this system—it works. Look at what you and your team may be doing to inadvertently sabotage your results.


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LisBiz strategies: What is stopping you from getting to your customer?

Volume 28/Number 6; September 1/8, 2014

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Lisbeth CalandrinoIn 2011, Jim Lecinski, VP Americas, customer solutions, Google wrote a book called “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth-ZMOT.” What we learned from the book was the consumer has forged a new path to your door. The “moment of truth” has always been the point where the consumer forms an impression of your business. In the old days, the moments of truth were pretty much limited to your advertising and your actual brick and mortar store. If you’re reading this article, it’s likely you’re aware of a change.

In his book, Lecinski describes the new buying model as numerous moments of truth. No longer is the business in command of the customer’s path; the customer has designated her own path. In the old days I mentioned earlier, we had the “sales funnel”; Lecinski refers to it now as a “flight path.” Instead of the customer being driven into a funnel, she is using the Internet to steer herself to your business.

But it doesn’t stop there. If the customer decides not to purchase, she is going back to the Internet to get more information. She may be interested in what previous customers are saying about you on social media or what your online reputation looks like. I’ve been told by many salespeople that it is taking consumers more time than ever to make a purchase.

Lecinski has written an update to his book that I recently received: “ZMOT and Why It Matters Now More Than Ever.”

The recent update continues to describe the consumer’s journey. As she continues to bounce back and forth through the Internet, more things have become apparent. The customer has added many more moments of truth.

Although this journey may seem like it’s more difficult for you to find the customer, it has actually provided us with more opportunities to connect.

According to Google’s internal data, there are over 100 billion searches per month. Every few minutes there are 7.5 million searches. These searches provide you with an opportunity to get closer to your customer. To make these connections, you must know everything about your target customer, what she is looking for, why she’s visiting you and where she is coming from.

Every industry has its exclusive search terms, which will actually help you gain insight into the motivations of your target customer.

One research study cited a customer searching for a “stain removal solution.” According to Google, when it comes to stains, the most searched topic is “how to remove red wine.” If you’re in the carpet cleaning business, knowing the answer to this would be a home run.

Google suggests that using search and Google insights functions will help you determine the right key words for your site. In addition, you will know what type of information, blogs and answers to the most commonly asked questions to post on your site. Customers are searching for useful information and want answers 24 hours a day.

The last major point is that more of the moment is occurring on mobile devices. Customers are searching for information on their smart phones while walking down the street or riding public transportation. This leads us to the last question: Is your website mobile ready?

Take it from me, what’s old is new. You still need to find your customer, show up with useful information and join the conversation.

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Metroflor brings on new director of technical and customer services

NORWALK, CONN.—Metroflor Corporation announced the addition of Sabad La Serna as their director of technical and customer services. He will operate from Metroflor’s customer service center in Calhoun, Ga., and will oversee the departments responsible for installation training, technical support, warranty administration and sample fulfillment.

Continue reading Metroflor brings on new director of technical and customer services

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Buying biscuits and customer satisfaction through flooring

Maybe this is so intuitive that it is unnecessary to discuss, but as a business owner with 40% of our business in retail and 100% in customer satisfaction, I thought about a recent incident that happened to me. It made me reflect on the priorities of our business and, for that matter, any business. So often, the articles I read focus on understanding the customer and her wants from the perspective of the showroom and making the sale. I don’t see a lot of attention as to what is our responsibility to the customer after the sale is made.

At Riverchase we have weekly sales and staff meetings. We use this time for supplier product knowledge presentations and review each person’s sales vs. goals. We talk about the coming week and month and prepare accordingly. At every meeting, breakfast is supplied, either by the sales rep or by me, if no rep is scheduled. Breakfast biscuits are the norm. Continue reading Buying biscuits and customer satisfaction through flooring