Find the right need and the sales will follow

The MD of Searle and Taylor, Darren Taylor, in Winchester offers some advice for KBB retailers looking to maximise sales and identify new opportunities to grow their business in a post-covid world.

As things have gradually started to return to normal and many of our showrooms have been open again for a few months, we have all had to adapt to a world that has slightly shifted on its axis.

Our websites now feature updated messages with details of our revised opening times, and while we are mostly mainly open for people to walk in, certain retailers have chosen to remain open by appointment-only. My website has much stronger messaging regarding booking appointments online, but I am still keen for people to just pop in if they want a friendly chat at the start of their kitchen purchasing journey. 

Most of us have been very busy, too, because of pent-up consumer demand for all things ‘home-related’ and because we are all doing our best to recoup losses from being closed during the pandemic. We have all had time to think of new opportunities in order to sharpen our retail strategies and to consider what could be a point of difference in our offer. I am, and always have been, open to new ideas that fit with selling luxury kitchens and now I am open for appointments, that means B2B visitors too. However, if any reps are reading this, please do make an appointment first. 

I have never considered selling pots and pans or kitchen utensils, but I admit that this may have been a mistake as I have lost count of the number of times that people have just walked into my showroom asking for a potato masher. I am not sure what it is about the popularity of the potato masher over any other utensil, but it’s the only one that people ever seem to ask for. Had I thought to seriously consider this untapped market before, I could have smashed the mash market by now. 

Small add-on sales

Post-reopening my showroom, I accepted a call and a visit from a company that sells seating products, particularly made-to-order and height-adjusted bar stools designed to sit under and against kitchen islands. Their point of difference is that their seating is all handmade in the UK and is fantastically comfortable – have you ever suffered a numb bum from being sat on a bar stool for a length of time? They are all upholstered with fabrics by eminent British textile designers or made bespoke using the client’s own choice of fabric. 

I was interested because we kitchen retailers tend to think less about the accessories that need to go with our lovely kitchen island or peninsula designs. Once our kitchens are installed, we usually think ‘job done’, leaving the satisfied homeowner to source these all-important finish touches themselves. It isn’t that easy to find decent, comfy bar stools that truly look the part. If you have ever had professional photography taken of your kitchen project that includes clients’ bar stools that don’t quite match your designs, the photographer can get fairly flustered by them. Editorial placement can also be difficult with editors saying “lovely kitchen, but I hate the bar stools”. 

And then there are dining chairs for open-plan kitchen diners where we also build the table and soft seating for banquettes that I love designing when I can. This is something that works for me and my business and for anyone who read my last article in the September issue, why hand over someone else’s business card to your client, when you can sell these products too? 

Most, not all, of the kitchens or kitchen diners we design feature an island or a peninsula and I am now a proud reseller of luxury bar stools and dining chairs. My clients no longer have to trawl the interweb to find something that isn’t quite right but will ‘do’, as I believe that I have already found the best options for my clients. I even include the bar stools in my 3D image presentations, making the whole process seamless, and clients can buy them at the same time that I sell the kitchen too. Now, not only are my clients happy because they can buy the perfect bar stools or dining chairs for their kitchen without fuss, I’m also happy because I’m adding value to my sale and service proposition

Find a need and sales will definitely follow.

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