We’ve all heard the adage “sex sells.” We also know better than to subscribe to this practice in the tile business, but the ultimate message this aphorism does communicate is how we present our business and/or products and having the right people presenting will determine our sales.
Due in part to the Internet and the overabundance of businesses selling tile products, most of our clients - whether they are coming into our showroom, being attended to by our sales staff or being serviced by our outside sales representatives - have seen a lot of companies, products and sales staff.
Over the years, I’ve been to many showrooms and worked with and managed a lot of sales people. Let me tell you, many of these experiences are lost in blandness. If the showroom or salesperson doesn’t demonstrate anything unique, exciting or special, then the experience isn’t worth holding in the brain and therefore becomes just one of many, lost in minutia.
How do we become memorable in the eyes of our customers? Following are a few opportunities we have to stand above the rest.
Façade and SignageDoes your building or store LOOK unique, exciting or special in any way or does it just fade into the surroundings? Do you believe that because of your Yellow Page listing, your search engine optimization (SEO) and a clear (but boring) sign people will find you when they are looking for tile products? If you believe this, then you’re missing a great opportunity for word of mouth.
Do you know that if you look unique, exciting or special, people will come in whether they need tile or not? Do you realize that just by creating interest you can create and receive a lot of “buzz”? Are you taking full advantage of your store front windows, changing the contents regularly, lighting them adequately to draw attention at night? Have you given thought to putting something totally unexpected into the window to draw attention? I know one store owner who painted the front of his store red (it had been white for over 40 years). People made u-turns to come into the building to see what was going on. What are you doing to make people screech to a stop or make a u-turn?
ShowroomWe know the importance of having a clean and organized showroom but what are we doing to make the inside of the store LOOK unique, exciting or special? How about themed vignettes throughout the showroom using ’50s records, record players, posters and some tile reminiscent of the era. Maybe expanding this to include ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s vignettes.
Unexpected props are always fun and memorable. What about mannequins in a tile store, or partnering with local artists and craftsmen to show their pieces? The point is to create an experience.
ProductsWhere and how are you showing your most innovative products? Many showrooms put the “specials” at the front of the store, trying to compete for pennies and all the great products at the back or in a special “binder” or catalog section. Go to any great retailer and you’ll find the sales merchandise in the back, downstairs or at least in an area that requires passing some impressive merchandise. Produce a glitz and glamour section grouping exciting and innovative products together, knocking their socks off!
You could also create the unexpected. One showroom that stands out in my mind was a Florida Tile showroom I went into once (many years ago, yet I still remember) where the products were arranged by color, integrating high-end and less expensive products. How many homes are ever built within budget? When a customer really loves something, they’ll find a way to get it. The unexpected, different from the competition, is a great way to set your products apart.