Trevor Scott

We’re virtually open

Trevor Scott, the Rugby Fitted Kitchens boss, on how clever use of social media and online content saw them keep in touch with their customers through the lockdown and why he’s in no hurry to go back to full opening anytime soon.

In late February this year, our long pored-over new website went live. It had taken many months to agree on every image, every word and every tab before we were happy to launch it.

This new site was designed to be very flexible and allow us to amend and change content throughout very quickly and easily.

Which was just as well, as only two weeks later the world as we know it crashed to the ground around us as the Covid-19 lockdown was announced.

Within a matter of days, and then over subsequent weeks, pretty much every page was revised to accommodate the fast-moving pace of change in the way we, as a responsible KBB retailer, operated during lockdown and subsequently as we slowly moved back to limited opening.

RFK immediately changed its tag line to ‘We’re Virtually Open’ and added content to make it easier for consumers to navigate through the whole design-to-order process online rather than in person.

But this was just one of many steps taken to mitigate the situation we found ourselves in, as we moved into full closure and furloughed most of our staff.

We brainstormed our marketing objectives and concluded that at the height of the crisis we didn’t want to be overtly chasing for new business. People had bigger worries….

So we agreed to maintain our presence by posting recipes from well-known chefs on social media every day, with the tag line ‘We know you can’t be with us at the moment…’ and we still are, as this page has proved incredibly popular.

It maintained a connection with our public on a human level, with no mention of kitchens or promotions at all, just our name.

All our media was coordinated, so our messages were consistent across all platforms which is, we feel, so important but oft overlooked.

We found new work started to come back to us in a reasonable volume even at the height of the crisis and so when Wren announced they were to reopen their stores at the beginning of June, I immediately pushed the button on RFK doing the same and our tag line was changed again to ‘Exclusively for You’, as we opened for ‘by appointment only’ showroom visits.

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This early opening caused a bit of a furore among our peers, but I was adamant that done correctly, which it has been, it was the right timing and history has proved me right, as we became incredibly busy very quickly and had to start bringing staff back in off furlough much sooner than expected.

Appointments

Indeed opening by appointment only, in conjunction with all the backroom work that is done in advance via Zoom calls etc, has worked so well we see no reason for returning to full opening anytime soon.

Our clients are so well qualified by the time they do visit the showrooms that our general conversion rate is at an all-time high. Which, of course, is great, but you don’t want to read here about me bragging, but I think the message is clear…

• Make sure your website is current, informative and flexible as more than ever this is your shop window through which a Covid-affected world now views you.

• Make sure your social media is regularly updated with offers and promotions and simple good news stories, all of which engages with your client base and inspires them to come to you with confidence.

Make sure you regularly post case studies online and try and get them featured in magazines too, as consumers love looking at real projects. In-store events have always been effective, but with restrictions on numbers in-store, why not run one online?

We recently did a Facebook Live cookery demonstration in conjunction with Neff and our eventual reach for this was an incredible 6,500!

But the single most important thing you can do is to remain proactive in whatever you are doing. And one thing’s for certain, just sitting back bemoaning the state of the world, while waiting for the shop doorbell to ring, is just going to result in your next visitor being the bailiff.

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