Mark Buchanan, owner of kitchen and bathroom showroom Upstairs Downstairs in Chester, has seen 76 KBB retailers open and close in the city but believes he’s found the secret to winning orders
To be successful in KBB retailing, you have to find out what motivates your customers. We have 32 kitchen and bathroom retailers in Chester so we’re a small crocodile in a huge swamp full of much bigger crocodiles.
These days, retailers who work on supply-only risk their quote going into the internet comparison machine and the client buying online. So, most specialist KBB retailers have gone the supply-and-fit route, because historically it pays them well to do so. All items are under one umbrella and fewer outside issues can get in the way of the sale.
But, over the years, certain big KBB players have offered a halfway house, where they sell on a supply-only deal and then introduce a fitting service as a bolt-on. That keeps the goods separate from the fitting – as the fitter invoices the client directly – and they clearly hope to win more sales this way.
So, as a KBB specialist, on day one, you should establish what stage your customer is at. Have they had any quotes yet? Were they impressed or not? Do they want a full supply-and-fit, project-managed service, where they can relax and get on with life, safe in the knowledge that your company can deliver everything quoted in the time allocated?
Tell them upfront how your service works and that yes, you can be flexible, if needed. You can lose a 15-grand kitchen sale by being £250 over the top – so you have to be the best-price package on day one.
The most successful KBB salespeople today are those who will tease out and collate all the necessary information from a customer, listen well and go on to solve their room problems – and use this advantage to win the sale.
Above all, in that first meeting, you must get across why buying from you will benefit them – why and how a true specialist, with an expert pedigree, can make their room a cut above.
Many kitchen suppliers whose kitchens start at £30k upwards may not need to be so cautious. But if you trade in the £7k to £25k sector, unless you find the trick to win the sale – using all the same tactics your competition use – then your conversion rate will plummet.
You must adapt your offering to win sales. Because if you are too rigid, you will lose more than you should and waste time you could have spent winning other clients who do want your kind of service.
Ask yourself this… is your survey-to-conversion rate 60% or more? If not, why not? There must be reasons. Ask yourself – what are you not doing to gain the advantage you need? And why do Wren or Bathstore sell so many orders before any survey has even been done? Is your business formula as sharp as theirs?
Have you been into your competitors’ stores to check out how they convert their sales? Shame on you if you haven’t. You need to adapt your offer to make sure it stacks up against theirs.
The best way to lock in a client is to become an adviser, not a salesperson. Tell them that your role is to ensure they don’t make any mistakes and guide them through the whole kitchen/bathroom minefield.
And when you are quoting for a project, don’t overload it with flooring, building work, radiators or room lighting. Instead, give them a bathroom or kitchen basic cost, so that this matches the usual retailers who keep their quotes basic. Let them see your ‘best deal’ and wow them with your ‘basic’ design. Then, at the end, talk about your ‘speciality menu’ with all of the ultimate add-ons. They will want your ‘lock-in’ service, having now seen how your service is so much more based on expert advice – rather than the 60% off ends tomorrow, gun-to-the-head tactics used daily by other retailers.
One such client, who was having an orangery built, gave us plans to work from and told us she was completely disillusioned by the three or four drab designs she’d got from other retailers over her five weeks’ research.
Seven days later, she came back in and saw our 3D design on the big-screen TV and after 20 minutes, and with a potential order for £16k at stake, she hugged me and said to her husband: “George, get the chequebook out and give this guy our deposit – this is exactly what we need.” Her comments about drab designs had given me the green light to come up with something funky and with design touches she felt the other designs lacked.
There is a time to play safe and a time to go for it with all you know. So long as you know the difference, you too can lock your customers in to what you can offer.