Embrace the change

The founder of The Used Kitchen Company, Looeeze Grossman, shares her thoughts on how consumers’ needs have changed and how retailers can use those changes to generate sales.

The global pandemic has brought multiple lockdowns, staff shortages, materials shortages, and a huge increase in demand. Coupled with Brexit, there’s no doubt that it’s been a challenging time for us all as an industry.

Hopefully, we’re all learning to adapt and have picked up a lot of valuable knowledge and skills along the way, from embracing new technology to forming a strong community within our sector. We’ve also learnt a lot more about sustainability and the state of our planet. Seeing the skies blue and pollution levels drop when most of us remained at home, leaving little traffic on the roads, has given us a new appreciation for the world in which we live.

This change has also become apparent in consumers with their need for a more holistic approach to purchasing. With this in mind, here are my top three tips for boosting sales, adapting to customers’ new needs and becoming more sustainable in the process. 

1 Adapt to thrive  

In pre-Covid times, sales targets took into account the multiple showrooms retailers had across the country, full capacity staffing and an almost guaranteed footfall from passers-by. However, with the fallout from the pandemic, these targets will be based on virtual interactions, limited staffing and, sadly, fewer showrooms. 

The changing needs of consumers has meant that our industry has had to adapt quickly. This has impacted every aspect of our usual working day from how we communicate to how we sell to our customers. 

The key here, I’ve found, is to embrace the change rather than fight it. Getting your whole team involved in every aspect of the process really helps here. By having everyone on board, understanding the new way of working and most importantly, fully trained on any new tech you’re implementing, the whole process will run smoother. Virtual clients are always keen to meet your team and your staff in turn will appreciate putting a face to the names of your customers.

2 Make showrooms the very best they can be 

For many, the desire to research their new kitchen project by visiting showroom after showroom simply hasn’t returned yet. For others, they’re chomping at the bit eager to be able to touch and feel the displays.

Therefore, there’s never been a better time to consider your displays in order to make them as impressive and up-to-date as possible. To help alleviate some of the cost of installing a new display, why not think about selling them on? Selling old displays not only maximises profit, but also promotes sustainability within the industry. 

In addition, recommending a similar service to consumers to sell their old kitchens – many of whom will no doubt like the idea of getting some return on their old kitchen and who may well also be thinking about their environmental impact – is another way to strengthen your customer service. With tens of thousands of tonnes of kitchen waste still ending up in landfill each year, it’s vital that as an industry we all play our part in reusing, reselling and repurposing as much as we can. 

3 Understand your customers’ new needs 

A blended approach of maintaining remote practices where possible, if the client wants to, gives people options. It means they don’t have to give up their Saturday to come into town, they can jump on a call in their lunch break or after work, chat through ideas and feel comfortable with what and who they’re buying into. 

Then, if they want to move forward, it also means that they’re ‘warmed up’ before they even step into the showroom. That saves a huge amount of time and effort for the salesforce who can easily have 10 phone or zoom consultations in the time it would take to do two in-store. 

The key is to offer customers what they want in a way that makes them comfortable. Some will always want to come into the store, others will want a mix and some just want to have a call and leave you to get on with it. Ultimately, they will most likely still want to come and see the kitchens in situ before making a final decision.

Knowing and offering options gives the customer a voice to say what they want, remain in control and ultimately, benefit from excellent customer service. And who wouldn’t want that?

There’s no doubt that people’s circumstances have changed during the past two years, as people adapt to their own new way of working. Whether it’s creating a permanent or temporary home office, people’s needs within their home have changed. 

As a result, consumers are now looking at how they can best utilise the space they have to fit in these new requirements, which has meant that how we – the KBB industry – speak to customers and market our products has had to change in order to meet these new demands.

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