I have had the privilege of speaking at the Kitchen/Bath
Industry Show a number of times. Years ago, in New Orleans, when I
was getting ready for my first speaking “gig” at K/BIS, I was told
that if I did a good job, maybe I’d be booked again the following
Basically, it came down to this: “If you don’t fill the room,
you probably won’t be back.”
So, that year, I stood outside my appointed room, where hundreds
of conference attendees were choosing from dozens of seminars, and
when somebody would search their show program for a particular
session or topic, I’d simply say, “You should go in and hear this
guy Popyk. I understand he’s terrific.”
It worked. The room was full. Standing room only, in fact.
And since the program was titled “How to Find More Customers,”
it kind of fit.
The point? Personal promotion is important.
Now, this year’s show took place in Chicago. It was a bigger
room, with more seats to fill. So, once again, I stood outside the
This year’s topic was “How To Increase Your Kitchen & Bath
Business By 25% Starting Next Week!”
I did the “you should hear this guy” routine outside my room.
Only this time people would ask, “What’s the session about?”
I’d tell them it was about increasing business, getting better
sales and doing creative promotions.
Believe it or not, many dealers and salespeople responded to
that by saying things like, “I’ve got all the business I want.”
Or, “We don’t need any more customers.” Or, “We’ve got all we
I was lucky to get the seats in my room full, and that gets me
I know: The economy is great, and consumers are spending money.
But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. In
other words, I wouldn’t cancel my Yellow Pages advertising and
forget about promotions just yet.
One of the problems we all have when business is good is that we
think it’s always going to be good. We have a tendency to cut back
on advertising, forget about customer retention and service, and
treat potential new customers like they’re expendable.’
Maybe I’m being a little drastic here, but you get the
In fact, I’m speaking from personal experience. You see, I’ve
started to do some research into remodeling my own kitchen, and
have visited several showrooms in the recent past.
One dealer said, “I can’t guarantee that we’ll get to it right
Another said, “This is a busy time of the year for us.”
Some other things I’ve heard include: “If we have to order it, I
can’t tell you when you’ll get if for sure,” as well as “What do
you want a new kitchen for? Yours is perfectly fine.”
This does not exactly make me want to write a check for a
deposit on the spot.
However, I’ll also share with you the story of one of my friends
who just remodeled his kitchen. He and his wife absolutely love it.
I went over to see it, and to possibly get ideas about doing
We sat at his brand new counter on his brand new stools. I had a
cup of coffee with them in cups taken out of their brand new
cabinets. Everything was perfect. It was like a mystical
experience. They were so proud.
And here’s the best part: They said that the kitchen designer
who put this all together came over when the job was done.
He had a cup of coffee with them, right there where I was
And then the designer said, “This looks fabulous. I’m glad I was
able to be a part of it. By the way, do you know of anyone else who
might be interested in putting in a new kitchen?”
He left several business cards. He even stuck one inside one of
the kitchen cabinets.
Now, here I am looking at their new kitchen, and these two
raving fans of the designer are giving me his card and insisting I
And I’m excited . . . and thinking: This is the way it’s
supposed to work.
On the flip side of the spectrum, let’s compare this experience
to my neighbors down the street.
They remodeled their kitchen last year, and are continually
telling people to go someplace else. They had to wait a
ridiculously long time, and the cabinets were not exactly what
they’d ordered, and the salesperson was tough to get in touch with,
and the installers weren’t very competent.’
No kitchen designer came over to sit down with them to make sure
everything was great. No cup of coffee. No asking for
Prime the pump
One happy customer will tell at least 10 people about you. Every
dissatisfied customer will tell 20 others not to do business with
Keep that in mind!
Continue to remember, too, that every customer is important. You
have to keep priming the pump; you have to create new leads and get
It can be tough, but you need to motivate yourself to be on the
lookout for more business because one of these days, that bright
blue sky just might fall in on you.
You never know. Business might start to get soft. The Fed might
raise interest rates, and people might stop spending so much money.
The economy could start to slide with a new presidential
Stated another way, you don’t want your well to run dry. You
never want to get too complacent when business is great.
Approach your business as if you need every prospect who calls
or walks through the door. Make each customer feel special, and if
you do, they’ll take it from there. Satisfied customers can help do
the work for you of finding new customers.
Mark Twain once said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll
get run over if you just stand there.”
Next year might bring new competition, a slowdown in the economy
or a change in consumer attitudes. You have to keep moving and
Bob Popyk is publisher of Creative Selling’, a monthly
newsletter on sales and marketing strategies. He is the author of
the book, How to Increase Your Kitchen & Bath Business by 25%
Starting Next Week!, available through the NKBA, and is a speaker
at various industry events, including the National Kitchen &
Bath Conference. For a free sample of his newsletter, call (800)
724-9700, or visit his Web site at www.creativeselling.com.