Flooring dealers saw a slow down in business at the end of 2022, and this trend is set to continue. We’re likely to go into a recession, and by some measures we’re already there. Dealers are justifiably nervous, so I’m going to cover three proven strategies to help you prosper in a market downturn.

But first some relevant background.

My company provides marketing services and coaching for flooring retailers. I launched it in October 2007 — a mere 12 months before the market melted down into the worst recession since the Great Depression, with many dealers experiencing a decline in sales.

However, dealers I worked with not only survived the recession, but some even broke sales records, while others scooped up market share left behind by failed competitors. They succeeded, in part, by deploying these three key strategies.

Strategy #1: Stop ignoring the people who built your business.

Flooring retailers are mostly focused on marketing efforts that get strangers to buy, including Google ads, social media ads, print ads, and so on. 

When the market slows down, this kind of advertising becomes more expensive and less effective. What if there was a cost-effective strategy that’s proven to generate business during a recession? What if you could tap into a list of prospects who are predisposed to buy from you, even if you’re more expensive than your competition?

You can, and it’s as simple as targeting your existing client base.

Your existing clients are less price-sensitive than people who found you through an advertisement or online search. They already trust you, and you’ve already established a rapport. Existing clients enter your showroom pre-sold, and they send you referrals.

Yet most dealers overlook their past clients, which causes them to leave millions of dollars on the table. The dealers I worked with who survived the last recession communicated with their clients on a regular basis using the 90/10 formula.

90/10 messaging is 90% fun, informative, entertaining, relationship-building content, with 10% about your business. By establishing yourself as a thought leader with existing clients, you can dramatically increase your repeat and referral business, both of which are essential during a recession.

Strategy #2: Make every at-bat count.

Retailers see fewer walk-ins when the market slows down, so it’s imperative that you make those opportunities count. If 10 people walk into the average flooring store, roughly three end up buying — a low ~30% conversion rate. To convert more shoppers into buyers, having a step-by-step selling system in place is essential.

A good selling system positions you as a trusted advisor and differentiates you from your competitors, helping close more sales and command higher prices. What makes all of this possible are trust builders. The system my dealers use has over 21 trust builders incorporated into the process. Here are five examples to get you started:

1. Use the Roomvo visualizer throughout your sales process. Most dealers simply let it sit on their website, which is a big missed opportunity to create differentiation and position yourself as a trusted authority.

2. Sit down with prospects, ask questions, and write down the answers. This demonstrates that you’re listening, and that you care.

3. When you do the in-home measure, call five minutes before you arrive as a courtesy.

4. When you’re invited into the home, stop in the entry and slip on medical shoe covers. This demonstrates respect for the customer’s home, and reinforces the “trusted advisor” positioning.

5. Offer to inspect the customer’s vacuum. Let them know that a properly functioning vacuum removes dry particulate soil that abrades carpet and causes it to wear out faster.

Strategy #3: Use the Roomvo visualizer.

Another way to build trust with your customers? Visualization.

Seeing products in the home inspires confidence in your customers, which makes them more likely to purchase. That means better conversions and more sales for you.

I encourage retailers to use Roomvo throughout the sales process – from the first time the customer lands on the website to in-store visits.

Use the Roomvo visualizer throughout your sales process.

Strategy #4: Dig oil wells.

Dig an oil well, and it continues to produce for years. All you have to do is maintain the well. When promoting your flooring showroom, referral partnerships are your oil wells.

When you establish referral relationships with other businesses, you do the work of setting up the relationship one time and you’ll get referrals for years. All you have to do is maintain the relationship. Some of the most profitable relationships are with realtors, designers, remodelers, insurance companies, and carpet cleaning companies.

These relationships are highly profitable. The dealers I work with report that their average relationship is worth between $25,000 and $35,000 per year, with some superstars sending referrals amounting to six-figures in revenue. If you build 10 partnerships, you’ve just added $250,000 to $350,000 in revenue.

Plus, referrals are much easier to sell to than cold prospects who walked in because they found you online. They are less price sensitive, and they tend to shop around less.

Prepare for success.

By implementing these four strategies, you’ll not only give yourself a big advantage over competitors, but you’ll be prepared no matter where the market goes, up or down.

Jim is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins, and work the hours they choose. For a free copy of Jim’s book, The Independent Floor Dealer Success System, visit FlooringSuccessSystems.com.

By: Jim Augustus Armstrong

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