Stop Chasing the Business Away

by WOHe

Is your company easy or hard to do business with?

Does your organization have a destructive habit of chasing
business away without really meaning to, or even realizing it as if
it had a case of corporate body odor or bad breath? Are your
prospects excited and pleased by your company’s overall approach,
or are they left frustrated, dazed and angered by the way you do
business?

Those are questions that kitchen and bath dealers, distributors
and manufacturers need to ask themselves every day they’re open for
business.

The good news, of course, is that many already are asking those
questions. Others, sad to say, are apparently ignoring the
questions altogether remaining insensitive to important consumer
buying needs and oblivious to key operational issues . . . all the
while turning prospects off and potential business away.

Ironically, most of these turn-offs aren’t deliberate. But they
might just as well be, because their impact on a company’s bottom
line can be just as damaging as if they were intended.

One kitchen designer I know of call her Jane Doe recently wrote
to six cabinet manufacturers in search of a supplier on the West
Coast. Ms. Doe included specs for two projects she was handling
both pretty straightforward and not requiring unusual components
and asked if the cabinet companies could supply either project.

Guess how many of the six companies bothered to respond?

The answer? Two. Neither of which had a door style compatible to
either project.

“But what about the four companies that didn’t respond?” an
exasperated Jane Doe asks. “Do they have so much work that even a
courtesy phone call is beyond them? How can we get companies like
this to be more responsible and responsive?”
My answer? I’m not sure.

One thing I am sure of, however, is that Jane Doe won’t be
contacting those unresponsive cabinet companies for business, ever
again. I’m fairly certain, too, that these kinds of maddening
“transactional turn-offs” quietly kill off millions of dollars in
sales each year throughout the kitchen and bath industry.

Take the case, for example, of Stephen Wells, CKD, a dealer in
Oklahoma City. Wells, a 17-year industry veteran, writes in this
month’s issue of Kitchen & Bath Design News (Page 46) that he’s
had it just about up to here with inconsiderate, cold-calling sales
reps who barge into his showroom unannounced and expect a captive
audience while they pitch the virtues of some product line Wells
has no interest in to begin with.

Wells suggests, understandably, that’s there’s no way he’ll ever
buy from those unwelcome reps, regardless of how great their
products are. In fact, Wells now makes his displeasure known to
them by actually billing the reps a hundred and fifty bucks an hour
for the time he spends with them at the expense of his own
clients.

Stories like those of Wells and Doe, in one form or another, are
far too pervasive to remain unaddressed. And dealers and designers,
it should be noted, are not just innocent parties to these kinds of
customer-service gaffes.

I’ve heard cases of receptionists at design firms putting
callers on hold for what seems like an eternity before coming back
with an arrogant, standoffish attitude. I’ve heard of cases in
which delivery or installation personnel were so crass that the
homeowners wanted to turn away a truckload of products they’d
already spent thousands of dollars on. I’ve heard of cases in which
homeowners, for the life of them, couldn’t figure out exactly what
was being offered, or how to buy it, or how it works, or who to
even ask about it.

These kinds of commonplace occurrences are inexcusable in a
business climate in which
customer-service standards are being raised, not lowered.

It’s imperative that kitchen and bath product marketers monitor
their service standards constantly in search of commissions and
omissions that might discourage a prospect from buying and fix
those problems as soon as they’re uncovered.

If your company suffers from a case of body odor or bad breath,
you better apply some remedy to it fast, before people decide the
best way to deal with you is simply to keep their distance.

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