Strategies for Getting the Whole Job

by WOHe

A customer walked into a showroom asking for a deadbolt lock.
Several hours later, he departed having purchased more than $80,000
of decorative plumbing and hardware. How did that happen? A sales
professional took the time to ask the right questions and then
listen carefully to the responses.

While converting a $37 request into an $80,000 sale doesn’t
happen every day, this does illustrate the value of getting the
whole job.

With decorative hardware and plumbing comprising some 5-7% of
the cost in new construction, opportunities to cross sell, sell up
and sell complete should not be overlooked. DPH showrooms are
uniquely positioned to provide total hardware and plumbing package
solutions that might otherwise be sourced piecemeal through other
channels.

Single sourcing these DPH items offers many advantages to the
homeowner, designer and contractor. The coordination of finishes is
seamless. Anticipation and avoidance of mechanically incompatible
items is second nature. Errors, omissions and overlooked items are
minimized. There is a single source for technical information
during planning and construction. One company handles schedule and
delivery. Bookkeeping and cost accounting is simplified. One
company fulfills warranty issues.

The ideal is to sell directly to the owner, with installation
provided by a contractor commonly referred to as “owner furnished
contractor installed” (OFCI). OFCI creates the most likely scenario
for getting the whole job and frequently yields the best results
for everyone. That’s because contractors don’t have to expend time
holding a client’s hand during the selection process; schedules can
be maintained by having a single resource and supply chain that
will deliver various products at different phases of construction,
and clients have a single resource to address warranty
issues.

Toppling Obstacles
Showrooms faced with contractor pricing obstacles need to provide
value-added services that illustrate the benefit of relying on a
single source for DPH products. These include storing products and
delivering them on an as-needed basis, serving as a technical
resource during installation and standing behind warranties.

Jeff Burton from Bath and Beyond notes, “We advise contractors
and designers that we want the entire job and have the skill,
training and experience to assure a smooth project. We will not
service products that we don’t sell and a number of reps have taken
a position that they won’t service products that are not purchased
from showrooms in their territories.”

It’s also important for showrooms bidding on jobs to be careful
what information is disseminated, and to whom. Julie Koch of
Elegant Additions claims, “None of the inventory in our showroom is
identified by the vendor or a model number that is useful to anyone
other than showroom personnel. We are responsive to bid requests,
but our proposals do not include enough information to allow them
to be used for competitive bidding.”

Debbie Miller of Miller’s Fine Decorative Hardware believes that
it’s easier to get the whole job when the showroom orchestrates the
sales process. “Our salespeople are trained to get the entire job
at the beginning of the design phase. We start with the plumbing
and matching accessories, working our way into the kitchen and bar
with a smooth transition into door hardware, finish and cabinet
hardware and boutique accessories,” she says.

Another advantage a showroom can use is to offer proprietary and
private label products unavailable from other sources. As Burton
says, “Don’t always rely on a single manufacturer. Mix five or six
manufacturers’ products together. Customize a proposal to meet the
clients’ needs using products that cannot be found elsewhere, and
you stand apart because of your unique product lines and
creativity.”

Mark Soble of Westend Hardware Supply Co. agrees that providing
value-added services is key. To that end, designers in his
showrooms walk customers through an entire project and provide
material lists that are needed to achieve the client’s goals.

Koch encourages customers to select all items at the beginning
of the project to help assist with scheduling and to ensure that
design consistency is not compromised. “We encourage customers to
select cabinet hardware immediately after choosing plumbing
products while the finishes remain fresh in their mind,” she
says.

Miller adds another practical reason to have customers purchase
all products at the start of a project. “Special finishes govern
approximately 75% of the purchases in our showroom. If customers
wait to purchase door hardware six or nine months after ordering
plumbing products, they may find it difficult to match finishes
exactly.”

The whole job approach should apply to every customer who enters
a showroom. Customers who want to buy a faucet should be asked if
they would like a filtration system to go with it. Most customers
do not think about changing door hinges, switchplates or cabinet
and door hardware to match the finish of their new faucet.

Proper sales training will help salespeople ask the right
questions so they can obtain the whole job. Similarly, customers
who come to a showroom looking for a vessel sink don’t generally
think or ask about a drain or p-trap. They may not even consider
new faucets or a new vanity. The art of making a complete sale is
directly related to the ability to listen to needs and understand a
customer’s vision. It involves educating customers and making them
aware of options. When that occurs, it’s win-win for
everyone.

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