Going the Extra Mile
Posted on August 28, 2014
THE WHOLESALER - COLUMNS: AUGUST 2014: DION WILSON
Going the extra mile
By Dion Wilson
I read an article the other day, and within that article was the following quote by Roger Staubach: “There are not Traffic Jams on the Extra Mile.”
The quote was in an article on improving customer service. That quote really stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking. I mean everyone in every business I have ever known says they go the extra mile, but do they really? I am certain I have never heard this phrase used: “We fall short of doing what you expect of us.” First, it is not a very catchy phrase, but more importantly who would want to be a customer of that business?
That got me thinking. I believe many people say they go the extra mile — but saying and going a mile beyond what people expect are two different things. So what stops us from going the extra mile? Well, I think it starts with two phrases: “I can’t" or "I won’t.”
I have found that there is some confusion with the words "can’t" and "won’t". People often say they can’t do something, when what they really mean is that they won’t. Here’s the thing: When a service provider tells a customer — and themselves — that they can’t do something extra, they end the possibility of it happening. Can’t is a dead end. It can’t be done. That’s it.
Opportunity, not inconvenience
Here is an everyday example of what I am talking about. Let’s say a restaurant that will remain unnamed stops serving breakfast at 10:30 am and you arrive at 10:33 am. You want to order a McSomething only to be told they can’t serve you! What they really mean is that they won’t serve you. They could serve you; however, they’ve chosen not to serve you — and in doing so, not to go the extra mile.
By pointing out to you they stop serving breakfast at 10:30am, the service provider has an excuse not to try. So you leave disappointed or eat some sort of burger for breakfast at 10:33 am.
Of course, the best service providers would use that same situation as an opportunity to go a mile beyond what you expected of them. They’d explain that it’s a few minutes after they stop serving breakfast, but they will gladly make an exception for you. In doing so, they would have delivered a great customer experience story that you likely would have shared with your friends.
So what is the lesson here? Before you tell a client or prospective client that you can’t do what they want, ask yourself if what you really mean is that you won’t do what they want. Now, if they are being totally unreasonable or selfishly trying to get you to work for free, etc., you shouldn’t allow them to abuse your good nature. However, if what you are being asked is something you can do and you believe they are sincere, you have a decision to make.
You can do what they expect by refusing to be flexible. Alternatively, you can be one of the rare few who actually do go the extra mile. You can build stronger, deeper bonds with your clients. Plus… you can give your marketplace a story about your business, worth sharing.
Now you are probably thinking, “Dion, you must go the extra mile all the time and skip down that road, whistling while doing so, right?’ Well, I would be lying if I said I did. The following is a true story for all, with its good and bad. I think it will help to reiterate my point.
Our showroom is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturdays. Now imagine it is a beautiful day with very few clouds in the sky. I believe you could hear birds singing that day. We had been busy with customers all day, as Saturdays are one of our higher traffic days. At 4:15 one of the showroom associates and I were able to get the last customer on their way and lock the doors. We had about 45 to 60 minutes of work to catch up on and finish before we could finally leave for the day and start to enjoy our weekend.
So 5:15pm arrives and we are both just finishing and ready to go when a car pulls up out front. A couple gets out of their car and they walk toward the doors. It is well past closing time when they notice our hours. Before either of us had a chance to react another car pulls up and it is one of the managers from the wholesale side of our company.
(Let me back up a bit and be deadly honest. My thought when they pulled up was “Are you kidding me?” How do you not call for business hours before you stop? It was not like it was 4:15 or even 5:00 pm — it was well past closing time. Anyway, that is what was going through my head and I may or may not have verbalized that to my co-worker.)
Now back to the story.
So the manager gets out of his car and notices the people looking in. He instinctively invites the customer to come in and look around. I had plans with my family and so did the other person I worked with that day. Well, to shorten this a little, we ended up going the extra mile and waited on the customer. They ended up placing an order that day. The jury is still out if they appreciate the effort, but I like to think they did.
Looking back on the situation, I realized I was in the wrong for being upset when they pulled up and the other manager was in the right to have let them in. Typically I have no issue staying late for a customer who needs me. In going the extra mile you can’t focus on the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).
Although WIIFM might be common thinking, it’s the kiss of death when it comes to success and going the extra mile. If you want to excel, stop focusing on what’s in it for you. Don’t worry about whether it’s fair to give more when you’re not being compensated or recognized for it. Don’t adopt the “it’s not my job” mentality. This type of attitude shows that you’re focused on yourself, but you’ll see bigger results more quickly if you make other people the focus of your attention.
Going the extra mile shows that you pay attention to detail, that you consider all the small things that really make a business successful, that you care about your image, and that you belong with all the other people who work hard to achieve. You will attract new business and new opportunities.
Here are four simple questions that can help you evaluate how well you’re putting this principle into play in your life:
• What do most people expect? To know how to exceed expectations, you first have to know what expectations are. What level of service do customers expect? What do your vendors want? How about your employees or master mind partners? Look at every important relationship you have, and discover what the minimum expectations are.
• Take a candid look at your performance. Do you exceed expectations? Do you surprise people with more than they were expecting from you? Do you look for ways that you could be of more service, or for projects that you could help out on? Or are you skating by, meeting expectations and providing average value?
• How are you willing to go the extra mile? What kind of extra service are you willing to provide in order to stand out from the rest? If you aren’t 100% willing to deliver service above and beyond expectations, why not?
• What can you do to exceed expectations? What added service would your customers love, but don’t expect? How could you better serve your boss and company? How could you provide more value to your customers?
Success demands hard work
Listen to any success story and you will hear of someone who worked exceptionally hard to get what they wanted. You’ll hear how they put in the extra time, did what wasn’t part of their job description, and over-delivered on what was asked of them. You’ll hear how they stuck at it until they broke through, and usually you’ll hear how it only took them a couple of years to do it.
What have you been doing for the past couple of years? The same old thing? How quickly have you advanced? How quickly has time gone by? Think of what you could accomplish if you made it a habit to exceed everyone’s expectations. Image what doors could be open to you if you decided to be of better service and value.
Be willing to treat everyone like you’d treat your dearest friend. Don’t skimp on service. Don’t be mediocre or run of the mill. You need to show people what you are capable of. Show them that you care about your image and reputation. When it comes to success, the people who are willing to go the extra mile get there that much faster!
Because evidently there are no traffic jams.
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10 Easy Design Touches for your Master Bathroom
Posted on June 03, 2014
In recent years, master bathrooms have gained a reputation for being increasingly luxurious. However, the bathroom remodels needed to create these relaxing retreats are often long and expensive. But, they don’t need to be. Take a look at some easy design touches that will leave your master bath feeling like new with little effort.
1. Refresh Your Vanity:
The vanity is often one of first things to catch your eye when entering a bathroom. If yours is looking a little outdated, think about switching it out. Many home improvement stores stock standalone varieties that come already assembled for easy installation. Or, a trip to the thrift store could lead to a great vintage find. But, if you don’t want to redo yours entirely, you could always repaint the cabinets or refinish the countertop for a fresh look.
2.Swap Out Finishes:
As important as the vanity is to a bathroom, it goes hand-in-hand with the finishes – facet, drawer pulls, etc. Over time, the sediment in your water and residue from your fingertips can leave marks on your finishes, which makes them look dirty no matter how hard you try to scrub them clean. When looking for new finishes, opt for stainless steel to create a sleek and modern look that’s easy to clean.
3. Rethink Paint Colors:
When aiming to create a new look in your home, choosing a new paint color is always a solid option. Obviously, the paint color you decide upon will be dependent on your lifestyle and décor preferences. If you want your look to be timeless or you are trying to sell your home and would like to appeal to a mass audience, go for neutral tones. However, if you’re not afraid to look trendy, be bold with color or try out an accent wall.
4, Make a Statement with the Mirror
A new mirror is one of the easiest ways to add visual interest to a bathroom. Once you find one (or several) that work with your design scheme, all you have to do is hang it up. You can find a statement mirror that is all one piece or use a frame to customize the style of a basic model.
5. Consider Dramatic Lighting:
Lighting fixtures can bring tons of drama to your master bath in one go. Add glamour to the room by going full tilt with a chandelier. Alternatively, you can really pump up the relaxing feel in the space by installing a few hanging wall sconces for candles. Whichever type of lighting you end up choosing be sure to add dimmers onto the light switches so that you can create ambiance at a moment’s notice.
6. Coordinate Accents:
When you really need to change the look in your master bathroom in a hurry, it’s all about changing up accents. Invest in a new shower curtain and floor mat. Throw out the old soap dish and get a new one along with some matching hand towels. If your bathroom is simple, consider adding color or a pattern in your accents to help the room pop. But, make sure all of the accents have a similar design to create a cohesive look.
7. Add More Storage:
Having the right amount of storage will help you keep your bathroom neat, which is key to it looking nice for the long haul. Get creative with your space to find the solution that works best for you. Hang up a few shelves for extra towels. Install a storage rack over the toilet to get the most out of a small space. Put drawer organizers inside your cabinets to keep those odds and ends at bay.
8. Use Accessories to Create Ambiance:
For many, the master bath is supposed to be an oasis from a hectic life. You’ll want the room to have a certain amount of ambiance. Use accessories to create that haven-away-from-home feel at a very low price point. Pick up a few candles. Incorporate some fresh flowers into your design. Feel free to use anything that makes you feel relaxed.
Sometimes design is about more than the look of a room, it is about the overall experience. A simple way to add that special something to your master bathroom is by bringing in your favorite scent. You could use some scented soaps, potpourri, or a reed diffuser get the job done. Choose something that’s light so that you won’t become tired of it quickly.
10. Deep Clean:
The final tip won’t cost you any money. All you need is a little elbow grease. You’d be surprised how much newer a bathroom can look when it’s had a through deep cleaning. Get on your hands and knees and scrub at the grout between tile, wipe away any water build up from the shower, clean out your storage. By the time you’re done, the bathroom will look brand new.
Depending on the final look you want to achieve, redoing your master bathroom is one of the most expensive and time-consuming home improvement projects you can undertake. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. By keeping your projects small, you can give your bathroom a makeover with just a bit of time and money spent. Use these 10 easy design touches to get your remodel underway.
Post Via FRESHOME
2014 HOT TRENDS - "LIVING WALLS"
Posted on May 08, 2014
Living walls, more of a rarity at this time, but when done right they look breathtaking. Take the example below by Siol, it’s simply stunning, adding vibrancy and tangible life to the bathroom which would be difficult to achieve in any other way. The main concern people may have regarding living walls is the watering of them. I’m not an expert on the finer details of them, however I do know there are watering systems for potted plants which automatically water based on time or moisture level of the soil.
A similar solution could be implemented into a living wall like this which should keep it looking lush and ravishing for time to come. We’re seeing these living walls drawn into more and more designs, and expect this trend to continue in 2014 - Freshome
Tips for Designing a New Master Bath
Posted on April 23, 2014
Spacious master bathrooms have become one of the most considered spaces in home design. These often luxurious settings provide a refuge from hectic schedules and a place for pampering. In these spaces we can be assured privacy in an increasingly public world and stamp our unique identities in their finishes. By their nature they allow a wide variation in creative design solutions and material choices. There are a few basic elements that each bathroom requires, and then there are the amenities that make it special to the owner. Let’s take a look at standard dimensions of essential fixtures and then investigate the options for other elements.
Allow clear pathways of at least 36 inches (92 centimeters) for circulation throughout your space. It is best to allow at least 42 inches (107 centimeters) in front of sinks, so that if you share your bath, someone passing won’t bump into you while you brush your teeth. It should go without saying that you can have as much space as you like, but in most cases square footage will be limited. The cutaway plan below shows dimensions for functions and fixtures in the layout. Consider whether you need to cross your bath to reach your closet, or if your space needs to accommodate one or two people. Give yourself some extra room where possible to help make the space feel generous. The tub surround in the plan has extra space for towels, candles and baskets on its platform.
Sinks. Position sinks so that they are readily accessible upon entering the room and from closets. The most common configuration aligns two sinks within a cabinet, while more luxurious and larger spaces may be arranged with independent cabinets, giving each person a personal countertop.
Tubs. Place beautiful tubs where they can be featured as focal points if possible. Whether they are used frequently or not, they remain desirable for and even essential to the design of a large bath. Leave as much open floor space as possible in front of tubs so that entering and exiting are not hindered.
Showers. Showers must be positioned so that moisture and overspray are contained to water-resistant areas. Consider whether you want your shower to be more open to the space and mostly enclosed with glass, for example, or more enclosed and private, as in the plan here. Placement depends on these factors, but you want to have devoted floor space immediately in front of the shower door where being wet is not a problem.
Toilets. Place water closets where they are out of sight lines, whether or not they have their own small rooms. Windows in these rooms are desirable, but if they are not possible, exhaust fans will work.
Linen closets. There never seems to be enough storage, so having a dedicated linen closet in a bathroom can be a good idea. Ideally position it away from the wettest areas. You will still have storage in cabinets and drawers around the sink unless you choose a pedestal-style version. In that case a storage cabinet of some type will be required.
A few people like pedestal or wall-mounted sinks; however, the majority want sinks built into countertops with drawers and cabinets that contain storage. The minimum is 24 inches (61 centimeters) wide, while 30 to 36 inches (76 to 92 centimeters) per person are the more common and comfortable dimensions.
Moving up to 48 inches (122 centimeters) in width per person provides ample space in more luxurious settings. The depth of a bath cabinet is usually 21 to 22 inches (53 to 56 centimeters). The height begins at 32 to 34 inches (81 to 86 centimeters) but is more frequently 36 inches (92 centimeters), which is the standard kitchen cabinet height.
Towel bars are usually made in lengths of 18 inches (48 centimeters) and 24 inches (61 centimeters), and towel rings are 8 to 9 inches (20
to 23 centimeters) wide. Place these essential fixtures 30 to 48 inches (76 to 122 centimeters) above the floor. You will also want these to be located 12 to 36 inches (30 to 92 centimeters) horizontally from your sink, tub and shower for easy reach.
If space and budget allow, use a built-in vanity. Makeup vanities need a width of only about 30 to 36 inches (76 to 92 centimeters) and a
counter height of 30 inches (76 centimeters), which is desk or dining table height. You may want more width if you want extra drawers for this configuration. Allow at least a 24-inch (61-centimeter) knee-space width under the countertop for your dressing stool or chair.
Tubs have taken a few design twists and turns in past decades. Starting out as freestanding fixtures in Victorian times, they have circled back to
that concept; freestanding tubs are again popular today in updated versions. Other iterations over the years have included the enameled cast iron version with an apron front that is set into three walls with a tile surround. Next came drop-in types that were set into a platform along with undermount types also set into platforms.
While many shapes and sizes have been and are still available, most tubs are 60 to 72 inches (152 to 183 centimeters) in length and 30 to 42 inches (76 to 107 centimeters) in width. The space needed for a tub depends on which configuration you prefer. You will also want to consider whether you want a jetted tub, where water is pushed into the bath by a pump for a whirlpool effect.
Showers, thankfully, have significantly evolved beyond the billowing shower curtains of decades past. While the minimum dimension for a
shower is 32 inches (81 centimeters) in either direction, you will likely never want to go less than 36 inches (92 centimeters) in width or depth.
Showers that are 36 inches (92 centimeters) deep and 48 inches (122 centimeters) wide are very comfortable for most people, especially if they have a built-in seat. Beyond that there is certainly no limit, but going over 60 inches (152 centimeters) in width and depth will lose the sense of enclosure that defines a shower and make most people uncomfortable.
Since we easily collect various toiletries, having a good place to store them is essential. While drawers in the cabinets and the
space under the sink provide some storage, medicine cabinets place more accessible and well-lit storage areas at eye level. There are many ready-to-install medicine cabinets that range from 15 to 24 inches (38 to 61 centimeters) in width and 20 to 30 inches (51 to 76 centimeters) in height. You can either mount these on side walls adjacent to the sink or in the wall above the sink. You will want the top of the cabinet to stay under 80 inches (203 centimeters) but not below 48 inches (122 centimeters).
The minimum space requirements for a water closet are 30 inches (76 centimeters) in width where it is centered in the space, and 24
inches (61 centimeters) of clear space in front of the fixture. It’s advisable to make the width a minimum of 36 inches (92 centimeters) and the length of the space in which the fixture rests at least 60 inches (152 centimeters).
If your budget and space allow, you might want the water closet to be its own separate room, a setup especially popular in the past three decades. This room should be a minimum of 36 inches wide (92 centimeters) and 60 inches (152 centimeters) in length. For luxurious accommodations, a width of 42 to 48 inches (107 to 122 centimeters) and a length of 66 to 72 inches (168 to 183 centimeters) will provide a spacious and comfortable setting.
For great examples of products, ideas, and inspiration - stop into Waterhouse Bath & Kitchen Studio today!
The Wholesaler: December 2013 - Your Displays Tell a Lot: Here's What Others Say with Theirs
Posted on April 15, 2014
Your displays tell a lot: Here’s what some others say with theirs
BY DION WILSON
So as the Holidays approach and the year draws to an end, I want to take this opportunity look back at what I have written about and suggestions I have made to you. Each month I express my opinion and give suggestions to the way I think you could be doing things. Do I have all the answers? No. Not even close. I only have my opinions, my experience and my love for our industry. I am still learning every day. As I write these articles each month, I do so in a bit of a bubble. With customers, for good or bad I always receive some sort of feedback. Writing these articles, I truly have no idea if anyone is reading them, enjoying them, or just filing them in a round file cabinet next to their desks.
Recently it was pointed out to me that I write about all the different things you should do in your showroom to improve your business but I have not really shown how I have implemented these ideas in my showroom. Sure I have cited certain situations, but they were correct — I really haven’t shown you how I apply what I write about in a real application. I take great pride in the fact that I write about not what I once did, but rather what I am currently doing . Like you, this is my life day in and day out.
So here are a few things I have done at Waterhouse Bath & Kitchen Studio. First, one person can make a huge difference but with a great team, you can make an impact. I want to point out that much of what I envision for Waterhouse would not be possible without having the outstandingly talented team that I do. I hope they don’t read this, as I would hate for it to go to their heads.
In a few articles I talked about merchandising and dressing or accessorizing your displays. I really believe it makes it so much easier for the average consumer to relate to a product if they can see what it would really look like in their own home. Finding the little things that can make a display more home-like can certainly be a full time job in itself. I spend much of my own personal time in and out of stores such as TJ Maxx and Target every week watching for the right item for the right display. It’s funny, as I do not think a week goes by that the staff is not asked by one of their customers if I would consider selling a certain item we have added to a display, be it a clock or a ceramic bulldog. I think that is a true testimony to what we are doing.
About two years ago, Kohler introduced their Tresham collection. As a Kohler Premier showroom, they were going to have us change out one of our original two “lifestyle suites” to accommodate the new Tresham collection. The display they selected to change was our Lexington lifestyle suite. The display is in our front window and has very high visibility to traffic and window shoppers. As you can see from the photograph, Lexington was a very masculine suite. It contained Kohler Kathryn fixtures in black set against a dark woodworking. The look was that of a stately Kentucky manor home. To update the display, Kohler wanted us to just swap out the Kathryn fixtures for the Tresham. In Kohler’s defense, I assume they had premier showrooms do this change without major renovations so showrooms would not incur the cost of remodeling the entire lifestyle suite. I personally didn’t like the idea because Kohler’s advertising and literature for Tresham was “Life. With a twist.” Just simply swapping the products did not represent what they were showing. They were featuring the products in a playful, modern, eclectic setting. I wanted our updated display to represent that look and be in line with the imagery Kohler was using in print and other media advertising. I contacted Kohler and asked if they would have an issue if I modified the display. They had no problem and knew I would not do anything not up to their standards. Left is a photo of Kohler’s Tresham imagery we used as inspiration and our finished Tresham display.
The display contains many eclectic elements as well as personal items of mine and of my teams. If you look closely you can see some photographs of some horses. They are actual photographs from when my family owned a harness racing track in Toledo. Some of the letters we have framed are actually personal letters sent by one of my staff’s grandparents back and fourth to each other. I love adding some sort of personal touch to any display. The horses are also a nod to the displays beginnings when it was Lexington. Then there are the little thing like the pick bow tie around the one sconce or the lions head door knocker I mounted to the side of the tub box to add personality.
In another issue, I mentioned events we held at our showroom. Well this year was Kohler’s 140th Birthday. We decided to throw a little event for the anniversary we titled the BOLD Birthday Bash. First with the invitations I wanted to have fun. Kohler has such great imagery I wanted to use it and have some fun with it. As you can see in the pictures on page 84, we used their current Moxie and VibrAcoustic advertising, as well as their Numi toilet, to create our invitation. My original idea was to have different stations throughout our showroom set up representing different decades from Kohler’s history.
Things do not always go the way you want and you just have to roll with it and modify the idea. What we did instead was recreate Kohler’s visual timeline here in the showroom. With help from our local rep and the historians at Kolher, we were able to gather photographs from the various eras throughout Kohler’s history. The staff staying with the birthday theme hung the items in order within the Kohler Premier space. Within the timeline was a series of questions. Guests could answer the multiple choice questions and all the correct ones were entered for prizes at the end of the night. We had great food and drinks inspired by Kohler’s home state of Wisconsin. Yes, as you would imagine, that included cheese. We also brought in a live DJ and photo booth to add an element of fun. It proved to be an outstanding event that was very well attended. All we asked of our customers was to come have fun. I would venture to say they learned a thing or two in the process but I have heard from more than one source to remember them for the next event – which is the whole idea. Build a fan following in whatever you do.
When we expanded our Duravit display I wanted to let consumers in our region know Duravit had come to Northwest Ohio. I always loved the campaign Duravit ran when they opened the Duravit showroom in New York City. They took a simple product like a Duravit Starck 2 Toilet and photographed it around New York. Well, essentially I borrowed (borrowed is a loosely used term) that idea and did the same thing around Northwest Ohio. We photographed the Starck 2 in various places including at 5/3 Field home of the world famous Toledo Mudhens and the Toledo Museum of Art.
Last year Kohler introduced four new colors in a partnership with Jonathan Adler. I had seen a vertical display Kohler had created that displayed all the colors on the same sink. I loved it and tried to get one of the displays from Kohler. Well, when I got nowhere I decided to make our own but with an added touch. I had the graphic for the top of the display created but it needed something else. Kohler had a display at ICFF that was like an old fashioned theater marquee. They had “We Love Color” spelled-out in the old fashion light bulbs. I wanted to recreate that look in our vertical display. So since it was fall and Christmas lights were available I bought a set of mini LED Christmas tree lights, drilled the graphic I had mounted to the display where the words had simulated where they would have lights. Add a little electricity and I had our very own we love color display.
Then sometimes you just have to have some fun. Through our social media we make a big deal about different obscure holidays. One example is Star Wars Day held every May 4th. This year we had a little fun with Kohler VibrAcoustic Rocker Chic. We made her an honorary Jedi Knight. We name her Vibra-Wan-Acoustic. She is darn handy with a couple of light saber! In full disclosure, my staff would want me to point out they had nothing to do with this and that this one was all the managers doing. Oh, and May the 4th be with you all.
Adding these little touches to your showroom does not have to be expensive. We have a whirlpool display that has a group of four working whirlpools we affectingly call the quad. At one time we use to use granite tops for each tub. We had working out a partnership with a local granite supplier and they were able to display their products and we had a great look for our tubs. The issue we ran into in is that displays change. A model would be discontinued or a feature modified. So we would have to change the tub and in turn the stone. At that point we were always at the mercy of the granite supplier and more than a month could go by with an open space. I decided we needed a system that would allow us to change more quickly and yet have a great presentation. I came up with the idea of using river rocks. We would use standard MDF boards to set the tubs, paint them gray and surround them with the stone. It gave us a unique look and allowed us to make changes at a minimal cost. Here is a photo of our quad and what better way to end then to have it decorated appropriately for the holiday.
I look forward to bringing you more ideas next year. I hope you find these articles informative and entertaining. Please feel free to shoot me a message if there is a topic you would like to see me cover or even to say hi love your articles. If you hate them, well you don’t need to write.
Until next time have fun, have yourself a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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THE WHOLESALER - October 2013: Think Retail Friendly, not Wholesale
Posted on April 09, 2014
Think Retail Friendly, Not Wholesale.
BY DION WILSON
Now I realize the title is ironic considering the Magazine I write for but if you have a showroom you must approach it with a retail friendly mindset. I am amazed by the number of showrooms that are still “wholesale only” and really think these companies are missing the boat. That is unless you are in my market, then you are perfect and please don’t change. I love you just the way you are!
Times they are a changing and the days of the plumbers buying the plumbing fixtures for the residential projects are too. You may or may not know this but there was a time when electricians bought and resold all the lighting and appliances for the home the same way plumbers buys the fixtures and faucets. This trend is changing also within our industry. More designers, consumers, builders and remodelers are taking on the responsibility of buying the plumbing fixtures and faucets. In some parts of the country this is standard practice, whereas others are slower to see this change. If it has not reached your market, trust me it will.
What is important to keep in mind is whoever buys the fixtures, ultimately the real decision makers and true person calling the shots or at least should be in the end is the home owner. They are the ones that have to live with and pay for the product when it’s all said and done. 80% of the consumers making these decisions are women. These are the customers you should be marketing and catering to. If you are not doing this already I really suggest you start thinking about it. If you look at all the major manufactures they are focusing the majority of their marketing efforts on the consumer and you should be too. There is so much that goes into making your store retail friendly from, service, amenities you can offer, events,marketing and the way you merchandise your store. It’s way to much to cover in one article so I will focus on the merchandising of your store. Here are just a few ideas to get you started. If you are already retail friendly maybe these are just some things to improve upon or add to what you are currently doing.
Become a destination retailer.
So what is a destination retailer you ask? Again you always ask such great questions! A destination retailer is by definition: A popular retailer from whom customers, attracted by its ambiance, and or variety will make a special effort to buy. Great examples of destination retailers are Cabeala’s, The Apple Store, Ikea, and within our industry one of the best examples is Pirch (formally Fixture Living). These stores all have similar things in common. The most important being they each create a unique atmosphere and look highly desirable to the consumer looking within their particular retail category.
I personally will drive an hour and a half to make the trip to Ikea because I love the styles of product they offer. I am a fan of Ikea and in turn loyal to the brand. I am the same way with Apple products and have driven two hours to visit an Apple Store. Now I realize some of you may have just laughed that off. Once your past that realize I am the type of customer you should desire, one that is loyal to a brand. That is a loyalty you should be working toward achieving. A loyalty not for the manufactures you carry, that’s their job to develop for their own brand following. You instead want a consumer to become loyal to your brand and that brand is your store and what you have to offer customers over others.
If you offer customers variety, service and an experience they will not soon forget they will reward you with their patronage and better yet loyalty.
Being retail friendly.
This in a way goes against the title of the article but bear with on this one. In my opinion a plumbing fixture store is not ever truly a full retail establishment. True full retail allows you to walk in select something and leave the store with the items that day. Within our industry orders are placed, and then the customer waits and sometime waits some more for their products to come in.
That said, it does not mean you can’t however be retail like or friendly. Offer hours that accommodate the customer. Most people have 9 to 5 jobs, so offer nights and weekend store hours. Consider being open on holiday weekends. Yeah, I know blasphemy right! Trust me, I truly love what I do, but I really would rather be home with my family. As much as I hate to admit, it becomes about making it easier for the customers. I really have to remember to hide this issue from my bosses when it comes out!
Our showroom currently offers two nights till 7:00pm and Saturdays 10:00am to 4:00pm. We have even discussed internally the idea of adding more weeknight hours and even (insert dramatic foreboding music – DUN DUN DUUUUN) “Sundays”!!! I know right, the idea just sent chills up the backs of many of you! You have to look at your stores traffic patterns and realize when you are not working, neither are your customers.
Have a theme & create the unexpected.
Products that are scattered about haphazardly aren't going to get much attention from customers. Develop a basic layout before you start merchandising. The plan doesn’t have to be very detailed, just make sure you have a general vision for your display and make a list of anything you will need to make it happen. You might choose to display product by product type, function, etc. Each of these options has its specific benefits, but make sure whichever theme you pick is obvious to shoppers.
Another way to display products is in a way that gives people an idea of how they might use the items in their own home commonly referred to as a vignette. I hate calling them vignettes! Even the word makes me think a wall with horrible flowered wall paper with just a pedestal and toilet set against it looking like it is trapped in 1977. I like to think it of them more as “lifestyle displays”. We recently created a black and white display with a Paris theme. We dressed it with towels, soaps, flowers, knickknacks and pictures to stay with our theme. All to create a look the customer might have or want to have in their own home.
Two great ways to get customers’ attention are with a whisper or with a shout. Highlight one product with a “whisper” by setting it apart or spotlighting it, much like a jeweler would do with a diamond necklace. Showing just a single necklace in a glass box with a dark backdrop makes the item seem special, and you can bet customers are intrigued. You know faucets are the jewelry of the bathroom. A “shout,” such as a full display with bold colors and a lot of product, is another way to draw customers in and raise top-of-mind awareness about a product. Whether you “whisper” or “shout,” commit to it; anything in between runs the risk of being overlooked by customers.
Less is more.
Even the title of this one probably has my staff and bosses laughing. This is a rule I have the hardest time with, but it is one of the most important. If I did not fight the urge to do so (nor have my staff rein me in) I would have 10,000 sq.ft. of product within our 7,000 sg.ft. store. No one can display everything. What I still struggle with to this day is how to pick and choose the right product. You want to display what is different from your competition yet have what is the trend or better yet what will be the upcoming trend. When staging a lifestyle display I might put five unique items in the display to give it personality. Then when I think it is perfect with those these five items my staff always says to take away one! It is really a rule to follow so you don’t over clutter.
Create a focal point.
When it comes to displays, I will plan, re-plan, over plan, and over think them before I feel they are ready. There is nothing that bothers me more than to go in to a store and see a sink and faucet combination that makes no sense what so ever. I know it was just put there just to put it there. You can see it was done with no real thought behind it. All that says to me and their customers is they don’t care. I have been in million dollar showrooms where handles are missing from a display or just left off like no one cared enough to correct the situation. Creating a display is an opportunity for you to tell a story and show customers how a variety of products coordinate. It is critical that you choose one item as a focal point and then build your display around it using complementary items. Without a main focus, the display may seem too busy and will be less effective in attracting customers. A clear focal point will catch shoppers’ attention right away and create interest in the display as a whole.
Make sure your displays are not jam-packed, so shoppers can process the scene quickly and easily. Cluttered spaces can cause customers to leave a store altogether because they feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable, or unsure how to navigate the environment. After you have completed your display, step back and look at it. Very few people will see it standing directly in front of it. Most displays are approached from the side or seen from an angle.
Keep it fresh.
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to change it up! Customers tend to pass up tired, been-there-done-that displays. We have adopted something I learned from the best such as Hank Darlington and David Hawkins, change about 25% of your store a year.
Don’t feel like you need to buy new props for every season; that can be expensive and overwhelming. Instead, think of ways to transform what you already have. You’ll be amazed at the way items take on a whole new look! We will even just move a particular product’s location in the store. Customers that may have just been in and did not notice the product will be like “oh this is new” when in reality it was here the last time they were in. We just gave them a new different perspective.
Keeping it fresh also means keeping it clean. Take a look at your store entrance and any other parts of your store where customers will form their first impressions. Always put your best foot forward. If the first thing shoppers see in your entryway is drooping flowers or chipped paint, freshen it up! Show shoppers that you are organized – de-clutter your desk by getting rid of all the post-it note reminders and loose paperwork. Cluttered desks are something we battle with everyday especially when we are busy. Honestly I have to admit the clean desk thing is my Kryptonite. I am the worst of all of us in our store. See I am human, and nowhere near perfect (a fact my wife will attest to).
If you are not sure where to start with any of this, I suggest doing some homework to get some inspiration. Before designing our remodel I spent weeks studying retail merchandising books, reading and rereading all of Hank Darlington’s columns, along with countless hours on the internet. I studied other showrooms, retail displays, and whatever could help me improve Waterhouse for our customers. I would come home from work and be on the computer doing research for hour’s every night. Yes, just looking at display ideas and plumbing fixtures! Man you guys are a tough crowd.
As I mentioned before in a previous article, I will go to the mall just to look at the way some of the stores are merchandising. I will take photos and try to figure “how can I make this work for us”? Same goes for trade shows such as ICFF or KBIS. I end up with hundreds to thousands of photos.
Once you’re ready, adding some of your own personality and creative spirit to your displays and keeping your store sparkling clean goes above and beyond shoppers’ expectations. Drive it home by providing a level of genuine service that shows customers how much you care about them and appreciate their business. These attributes add immeasurable value to your store and will keep shoppers coming back for the unique, personal experience they can only get from you – a specialty destination retailer!
Dion Wilson, Manager of Waterhouse Bath & Kitchen Studio and interior designer, has worked in the kitchen and bath industry as a showroom specialist for the last two decades. Under his direction, Waterhouse has garnered national attention. He is considered one of the industry’s leading Social Media experts. Wilson can be reached at 125 E. Indiana Ave, Perrysburg, OH, 43551; phone (419) 874.3519 fax (419) 874.9529; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or website www.waterhousebks.com; Facebook www.facebook.com/Waterhousebks or on Twitter @dion1701.
- See more at: http://thewholesaler.com/oct_13/wilson.php#sthash.wtD2Aukc.dpuf
THE WHOLESALER - SEPTEMBER 2013: Making Social Media Work for You and Your Business
Posted on March 31, 2014
Making social media work for you and your business
BY DION WILSON
Does your showroom, store or company have a Social Media program? If your answer is no, BUZZT! So sorry, that is an incorrect answer for the year 2013. Thus you did not win the year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni or Turtle Wax — but maybe next time. So why is no an incorrect answer for this day and age? Why should you take the advice on Social Media I am about to give?
Valid questions, Man, you guys are always so good. I suppose you could find dozens of articles written on Social Media. You could even find some that have been in this publication written by experts that know way more on the subject then I do. That being said, here is why I think should you take my advice on the subject. The main difference between me and many other Social Media experts is that I apply what I know in a practical working application every day doing exactly what you do — selling plumbing fixtures. My number one job as a Showroom Manager is to oversee and promote the sales of plumbing fixtures. To aid in that endeavor, I have made it my job to know a few things about Social Media. I suppose just enough to make me dangerous.
Maybe you think Social Media is some sort of trend that will pass. Social Media isn’t a fad; it’s a proven fundamental shift in the way we communicate. So let’s start with some quick and easy facts and figures about social media. Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old. People who are under the age of 30 are labeled Generation Y or Millennials, and 96% of these Gen-Y or Millennials have joined a social network. Every week Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S., and Social Media has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the Web.
In the different mediums, how many years would it take you to reach 50 million users? Radio it would take 38 years, television it would take 13 years, the internet four years, and via iPod three years. Facebook, however, has added over 200 million users in less than a year. If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest behind China and India, just ahead of the U.S. The fastest-growing segment on Facebook is 55- to 65-year-old females. YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. There are over 200,000 blogs on the Web. One-quarter of search results for the World’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content, and 34% of bloggers post opinion about products and brands.
Did you know that 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations? Only 14% of consumers trust advertisements. It has been proven that only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI (Return On Investment). It is a fact that 90% of people skip ads via their DVR. Heck, I know I do — unless it is a really good commercial, like the one where the kid talks about taping a cheetah to his grandma’s back to make her faster.
So where do you suppose I might have found all this information? If you guessed through some sort of Social Media, then DING! DING! DING! We have a winner! You might just get that Turtle Wax after all. The facts and figures on all of this information can also be found in a book titled Socialnomics written by Erik Qualman. If you don't already know it, word of mouth has become world of mouth.
In today’s world, you not only have to be connecting with your costumers on one front, you have to reach them on multiple fronts. Our company has been active in Social Media for some time. When we first started, I delegated the responsibility off to my staff. We did things like deal of the day to move overstock and old displays. From time to time, we would repost stories from other pages within our industry. Then one day it occurred to me at how annoyed and disinterested I was seeing the dumb stuff we were doing. Not to mention, if I was annoyed and uninterested in what we were doing, I could only imagine how the 100 fans we had at the time felt. That is when I took full control over our social media. I decided it needed to have a voice, it needed to have a personality and one that was consistent. So in the fall of 2011, Waterhouse started a weekly Facebook series called Unique Bathroom Friday. It was a weekly post where we showcased unique and interesting bathrooms. For better or for worse I interjected my humor and my personality into the posts. I also have a love for design and I wanted that to come through. The other important factor is I did not want it to be a hard sell. I felt it needed to be casual and keep people interested and entertained.
At around the same time I started Unique Bathroom Friday, one of my bosses also threw in a challenge. He wanted to see if I could reach 300 likes by the end of that same year. Being it was already fall I took that challenge head on and did exactly what you would expect — I sent a like request for Waterhouse to every friend I had on Facebook. Of my 1,200-plus friends at the time, I got about only 100 of them to bite.
Shortly after that is when the magic began to happen and our numbers started climbing. My idea was working and not just though my friends. Unique Bathroom Friday was getting unique likes and was being shared. People were commenting and interacting with us. We started to see a real following star to grow. So I added a second series — Awesome Kitchen Tuesday — and the same happened. Since then, we have gained close to 1,600 likes (averaging about a 100 likes a month). Not bad for a single branch location in Perrysburg, Ohio. I also am flattered by some other things that have followed. Kohler started doing Flashback Friday. I have seen Faucet Friday, Throwback Thursday and many other weekly series appear. Some people might be bothered, but if it helps our industry or one of my peers, I am all for it. That is unless, of course, you are within my market. Then it’s a whole different story...
The real surprising part we found is that we have followers all over the world. The top four countries we have followers from, in order, are the U.S., Egypt, Tunisia and India. So you are probably wondering the same thing my bosses were: “Are we ever going to sell to the people in Egypt or Tunisia”? The answer is probably not, but what it has done is raised Waterhouse in the world’s search engines. Waterhouse comes up within the first page of most searches and within the top five listings. We have achieved these results without paying a dime for search engine optimization. So are we only on Facebook? No, Waterhouse has its own YouTube channel. We are on Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz, Flickr, Blogger, Instagram, Google Plus and Linkedin. If you do not know what each of these are, you need to make it your mission to learn. If you are not part of each of these, then I think you are truly missing out on an inexpensive way to reach people.
Let me end with this little true story. Axor, prior to the world premier launch of its newest faucet series by Philippe Starck — appropriately named Starck Organic — ran a teaser campaign on Facebook titled Head + Heart. Waterhouse followed the campaign closely and reposted Axor’s information and created original post on the product. After the campaign ended, I was contacted by a student who was finishing her bachelor thesis on the Axor Starck Organic Teaser- Campaign. Here is part of what she wrote:
“Concerning the Teaser-Campaign of Axor Starck Organic on Facebook during the period of June, 12th 2012 and September, 18th 2012. While evaluating the posts we found out, that with your contributions you were considered to be one of the greatest influencers of the campaign.”
I was stunned and truly honored. Waterhouse, an independent single-branch store in Perrysburg, Ohio, was considered to be one of the greatest influences in the world. I hope you take from this what I learned. It does not matter the size of your company, and you don’t have to have a PHD is Social Media. You just have to get out there and start being social! Oh, and make sure you have fun doing it!
Dion Wilson, Manager of Waterhouse Bath & Kitchen Studio and interior designer, has worked in the kitchen and bath industry as a showroom specialist for the last two decades. Under his direction, Waterhouse has garnered national attention. He is considered one of the industry’s leading Social Media experts. Wilson can be reached at 125 E. Indiana Ave, Perrysburg, OH, 43551; phone (419) 874.3519 fax (419) 874.9529; e-mail email@example.com; or website www.waterhousebks.com; Facebook www.facebook.com/Waterhousebks or on Twitter @dion1701.
- See more at: http://thewholesaler.com/sept_13/wilson.php#sthash.cuNLcY6r.dpuf
THE WHOLESALER: JULY 2013 - ARE YOU A SALESPERSON?
Posted on March 27, 2014
Are you a salesperson?
By Dion Wilson
I know, the question sounds silly. I mean if you sell products you then must be a salesperson right? No, unfortunately it is just not that easy. See it is my humble opinion that our industry is full of too many order takers rather than good or even great sales people. There just are not enough people that are deeply invested in what they do.
Now, before you go hunting me down on Facebook, writing me a nasty email or tweet, hear me out.
First, what is the difference between a salesperson and an order taker? An order taker sits around and waits for someone to BUY something. The order taker waits for the incoming call. Waits for the web lead from the prospect that has a check-in-hand. The order taker waits for the buyer to say, “I’ll take it!”
A salesperson works to build sale prospects. They don’t just wait for someone to order something. When they do have a customer they help the prospect by uncovering problems and exposing needs and desires. They then diagnose those problems, offer solutions and then solve those problems.
When I first started doing this job so many years ago I hated being referred to as a salesperson. When I thought of a salesperson I always had this vision of the stereotypical used car salesperson. You know, some guy wearing a bad polyester suit with slicked back hair. I told myself I was not a salesperson; I was just good with people. It took years for me to come to terms with the fact that I truly was a salesperson, and a very good one.
So how do you go from order taker to salesperson or from average salesperson to a great salesperson? Can anyone be a great salesperson? Well, there are seminars, books, videos and all sorts of trainings saying that anyone who does the work can be a good or even great salesperson. It is true that anyone can be taught sales techniques and practices. You should all know the open, the close, yadda yadda and so on. I think with practice you can learn so much to improve your craft. I also believe some people are just naturally gifted great salespeople. The first step to improvement is always self-awareness. Are you an order taker or a good salesperson that could be great? If you’re a great sales person just stop reading now. Well, unless you’re curious!
Here are some of the qualities I find make a great salesperson.
Know your products
This one is the most important. You must know your product better than your competition, even if that competition is the salesperson next to you. Then once you know your product make sure you know other products in the industry even if you do not carry them. This way if someone comes in looking for a brand you don't carry you may be able to offer them an alternative.
Be a good listener
You might think this one is easy, but it is not. Some sales people stop listening when they think they know what their customers’ needs are, and in turn do not hear what the customer really wants or needs. Being a good listener can elevate you from being a good salesperson to a great sales person. You can even learn to hear what your customers are not saying.
A salesperson with confidence has a certain advantage over those who lack confidence. They have an extraordinary advantage: the ability to draw, pull and attract their clients as if they were magnetic. They exude a certain charm or charisma. So believe in yourself and make sure you are confident in what you know.
Be honest with your customers even if the news is bad like the manufacture just backordered their item another 90 days. Never embellish products. I am not a fan of salespeople using the blanket statement that fixture and faucets at big box stores are made differently than those wholesale have. I personally will go as far as if I know that my customer’s needs are better suited with a product I do not carry I will suggest it to them. If I don’t have anything close to what I think they need I will even tell them where to find it. Blaspheme I know, but people remember things like that. You may not get the sale that day but next time I promise they will come back to you because they trust you have their best interest. Furthermore, never ever forget that customers can smell BS and insincerity from a mile away.
Be a Chameleon
I don’t recall it being in any training I have ever taken but I find this skill to be very important. You need to be able to mimic your customers. No, I don’t mean repeat what they say after they have said it. That is parroting, my 9 year old does that to annoy her dad and it does not apply here. People tend to like people who are most like themselves. They generally look to other people similar to themselves when making decisions. This is particularly noticeable in situations of uncertainty such as making selections. You need to become like your customer. If your customer is analytical and detail oriented, then you should be analytical and about details. If they have a sense of humor joke with them and so on.
Be a Social Butterfly
Admit it, you like the title of this one. People tend to like people that make them laugh. They also tend to like those who pay them compliments. Find out what your customers interest are and build upon that. Talk about their family, tell them about yours and build a strong rapport with your customers. It is as easy as finding out what they like to watch on television. You like Property Brothers? My wife and I love that show too, we never miss an episode! Then when your customers are leaving, ask them what their plans are for the rest of the day. The last customer I asked that of said he was going home to take a nap, I replied that I was so very jealous. He got a good laugh out of it and the next day they called to confirm their substantial order.
None of this is an exact science. There are so many variables when dealing with people and some days are better than others. I do promise these techniques will help. You just have to give it your best effort and remember to have fun.
- See more at: http://thewholesaler.com/july_13/wilson.php#sthash.lwVHysbk.dpuf
The Wholesaler: June 2013 - Game Changers
Posted on March 24, 2014
By Dion Wilson
As one of my many duties as manager here at Waterhouse, I oversee our social media program. A few months ago I came across a Facebook post that was so relevant to what we do that it has really stuck with me. It was a post by Kiel Wuellner, manager extraordinaire of the Axor NYC Design Studio. Kiel’s post was a photo of himself making preparations to host Metropolis Magazine’s Game-changers event at the Axor Design Studio. As you can see from the photo I included, Kiel was writing out the definition (In the most sickening perfect handwriting) of game-changer.
Game-changer (noun) - A person, an idea or an event that completely changes the way a situation develops.
His post really got me thinking who or what are some of the game-changers within our industry. My first thought was of products like the Brizo Pascal kitchen faucet. The Pascal was the first hands-free and touch activated faucet. It was the springboard for Brizo / Delta’s Touch2o kitchen faucets and the game-changer that produced the current trend. I think you can find many products in recent years that can be considered game-changers from the Toto Neorest toilet, Hansgrohe iBox universal valve, to the Kohler Moxie Bluetooth music playing showerhead. There are just too many to list. These are products I think have had an obvious effect on what we do and how we do it.
I bring all this up because I think each of us has the potential to be a game-changer within our own market and within our industry. A game-changer is not just a product it can be a person or an idea. Jeremy Smith Sales Manager at Central Arizona Supply executed a themed grand opening for their newest showroom in Phoenix. They called it “a vintage grand opening” where guests were encouraged to dress in vintage period 1960’s similar to the style popularized in the AMC show Mad Men. Splash Kitchen Bath Home holds a unique educational experience open to the public. It is an outdoor event called Design Squared held in downtown Pittsburg’s Market Square. Fixture Living of California offers a showroom experience to their customers unlike anyone else. From their Bliss Café to their motto Live Joyfully, Fixture Living’s approach is very unique. I could write a whole article on the way Fixture Living does things and plan to do so very soon. I not only see them as a game-changer but in my opinion even though they are not the largest, they are the Apple computer of our industry. Each of these is a game-changer in its own right. All it takes is a vision and the courage to leap.
If you pay attention to our industry it is not hard to tell who the game-changers are. They are usually the ones that are leading and often copied by everyone else. I would love to hear what or who you think is a game-changer within our industry. Drop me an email or send me a message on Twitter or Facebook. What or who is going to be the next game-changer? Only time will tell but with some effort it just could be you!
Dion Wilson, Manager of Waterhouse Bath & Kitchen Studio, and inter
- See more at: http://thewholesaler.com/june_13/wilson.php#sthash.sbcJzDhV.dpuf
Waterhouse on the Business Blackboard
Posted on November 27, 2013
The Business Blackboard is a Saturday morning radio show from 8-10am. The Business Blackboard is the premier business and economic radio show in Northwest, OH and Southeast, MI on 1370AM WSPD. During the show, the topics often range from up and coming business ventures and new development around the area, positive news about the Toledo area (which most media outlets prefer not to talk about), and feature local businesses.
November 23rd, 2013, Waterhouse's manager and creative vision strategist, Dion Wilson was invited to come on the show and talk about products, and what differentiates Waterhouse from other kitchen and bath showrooms or big box stores.
To listen to the podcast, click below!
Waterhouse on the Business Blackboard!