Lunch With The Pro's!
Posted on July 14, 2015
You won't want to miss this month's 'Lunch With The Pro's' Event! Come enjoy lunch on us, meet and chat with the Pro's, and enjoy a Friday afternoon! See you there!
The Time is Now for Showrooms
Posted on July 10, 2015
Here is the latest article in 'The Wholesaler' written by Waterhouse Bath and Kitchen Studio's Manager, Dion Wilson!
One of the topics of late that I am focused on is the future of showrooms within our industry, because I honestly believe this is a make-or-break time for many showrooms. It is due to this belief I not only study what the future will bring to our industry, but what it holds for all main stream brick-and-mortar retail stores. Now you might be wondering how does what the athletic apparel store, electronics store or the locally owned mom and pop dress store have to do with selling toilets and faucets? Well, much more than you might realize.
See, we are all connected by one common thread, one that is constantly evolving; the retail consumer. The consumer that needs a faucet also needs shoes, mobile phones, computers, clothes and so on. I think you see where I am going with this. The Where and Why they choose to spend is as important, if not more so, than What they choose to spend it on. I believe customers worth having want to purchase an experience more than they want to save a few bucks.
Even though online retail accounted for 7% of total sales in the first quarter of 2015 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, brick-and-mortar still retains 93% of the market. That is to say, despite the overall growth in e-commerce, physical stores are far from dead. That is good news for small retailers and showrooms like many of our own. Consumers of all ages still prefer physical stores to e-commerce shopping, according to a study by A.T. Kearney. In fact, brick-and-mortar retailing is not only the industry’s cornerstone today – but also its future, the study predicts. While consumers can find virtually any product online and cheaper, stores need to consider what they can offer shoppers that cannot be replicated virtually. I challenge you to think about not only what you can offer, but also how you offer it in order to sell “Experiences, Not Products.”
One advantage physical retail has over online shopping is the ability to provide consumers with a sensory experience that allows them to touch and feel products, immerse in brand experiences, and engage with sales associates who provide tips and reaffirm shopper enthusiasm. Shoppers never really know how a touch faucet will work unless they have the opportunity to try one out. Similarly, it is difficult to know how useful a new technology will be unless users can test it and see how it can enhance their daily routines. If Amazon or Faucetstore.com (fake website I made up) can beat you on price, how can you win on experience?
With stores focusing on experiential practices, one trend I am seeing is stores offering product immersion experiences. Retailers are taking showrooming to the next level offering one-on-one, expert-led demonstrations of their products within the store. By creating these truly immersive experiences, retailers can leverage their physical presence to find new planes on which to compete with their online-only competitors.
So how does this information translate into your showroom? You have to make the experience consumers have in your showroom a memorable one. You need to bring the "wow" — and do so in a big way. For example, more space dedicated to working displays and lifestyle displays. Consider interactive displays, flat screens running product videos, and use of things like iPads.
If you pay attention to who is doing what in our industry then you know one of the companies blazing the way in experience retail is PIRCH. Founded in 2009 by a group of seasoned entrepreneurs and business leaders who set out to prove that shopping for appliances and plumbing products could be inspirational. Now in the midst of a national expansion, the award-winning store has redefined not only an industry, but retail at large. If I started to list the awards PIRCH has won I would need another full page. Just this year they garnered two prestigious industry awards – at KBIS, PIRCH won awards for best multi-location retailer (large), the other for most innovative showroom.
Fostering a culture of hospitality and kindness, PIRCH inspires its customers to dream. PIRCH welcomes entering visitors at their signature Bliss Cafe offering customers signature complimentary beverages. Guests are then invited to embark upon an endless journey of inspired experiences. From design ideas to culinary instruction, the PIRCH experience is best described as magical. The way they present and deliver the consumer a unique experience should be what each of us inspires to achieve in some form or another. I personally consider them the Apple Store of our industry.
Certainly each of us would love if our companies could invest the capitol in our showrooms that PIRCH has in theirs, but that is not in the cards for most of us – though I believe you don’t have to be a PIRCH to deliver the best retail experience within your market. I will use three of my favorite showrooms by Hubbard Pipe & Supply Inc. as examples. Each of the Hubbard Kitchen Bath and Lighting showrooms have been remodeled and crafted to meet the demands and needs of today’s consumers. Hubbard has does something within their showrooms I rarely see done by other showrooms. They have created an environment that is not only inviting, but also gives a feeling of warmth and intimacy. They do so with a mix of textiles, colors and staged displays designed to easily allow a customer to visualize any of their products within their own homes. Their staff conveys a sense of trust and confidence to each of their customers, who come away from the Hubbard experience confident that they have partnered with an experienced advocate there to provide unparalleled customer service before, during and after the sale.
They also have one of my favorite marketing/advertising ideas, whose creation I truly consider nothing less than pure genius. Hubbard has its very own plumbing and lighting fashionista named Sarah Faucet. She is a mix of cartoon character, mascot and spokesperson that represents the Hubbard experience. She can be found on their website, in their advertising, in the showrooms showcasing the latest displays and even about town promoting the importance of shopping and supporting local businesses. That’s right, Sarah gets around, but in a good way. She will show up at local events and other local businesses that Hubbard is cross-promoting with. I follow Sarah’s adventures via Hubbard’s Facebook page. For a cartoon spokesperson she is pretty darn hot; I think she easily could give Jessica Rabbit a run for her money.
Hubbard Kitchen Bath and Lighting showrooms are proof that a family owned, independent local business can deliver consumers an amazing showroom experience rivaling that of showrooms found in major markets. It just takes a little creativity, a vison and the courage to follow that vision.
The size of your showroom — be it 20,000 square feet, or 3,500 square feet — does not matter. What matters is the size of the experience you are offering your customers. Similarly, you don’t have to invest millions to create something memorable. A memorable experience can start with something as inexpensive as the service you personally offer your customers. It can be a cup of coffee or some other beverage that you hand to the customer. Whatever experience you offer, make sure it is one that will make the customer want to buy from you over the Internet or your competition. Make them feel special and I promise the majority of people will reciprocate by patronizing your company and telling their friends they should do the same. To borrow a major corporate slogan — Just Do It!
- See more at: http://www.thewholesaler.com/content/time-now-showrooms#sthash.gcbTjJCf.WuSpejKS.dpuf
5 Tips to Give Your Bathroom High End Style
Posted on June 30, 2015
5 TIPS TO GIVE YOUR BATHROOM HIGH END STYLE: Inspired by the 'Kohler Purist' Line!
ONE | IT BEGINS WITH THE DESIGN.
Either a piece of decor, something you saw while out and about, or an everyday object. For this bathroom, it was the classic look of a Chanel No. 5 bottle. What will yours be?
TWO | USE UNEXPECTED VESSELS FOR STORING ITEMS.
High-end bathrooms are unique, out of the ordinary. As it comes time to accessorize your bathroom, storage is such a big part of that. A lot of times, the beauty of storage gets overlooked; it’s an afterthought. The regular response is to purchase those plastic bins and call it a day. Look at storage needs as an opportunity to add in beautiful objects that will only enhance your space and still meet your needs. Having a collection of beautiful bowls, trays, and bins gives your space high-end appeal.
THREE | ADD IN LIFE.
Although we all love flowers, you may not want to spring for new blooms every week. Potted plants are great too. Every great interior has a form of life. A touch of nature is always a good idea.
FOUR | ADD IN FURNITURE.
Along the same lines as using beautiful objects for storage, you can add furniture into your bathroom. This will give your space a high-end, collected vibe.
FIVE | USE SENTIMENTAL OBJECTS.
Great rooms always have meaning to the ones that live in them. A good designer always designs for the people who live in the space. Yes, in magazines they are styled to perfection and for the camera, but those spaces always have sentiment and thoughtful details that make them shine. A good tip for a high-end bathroom is to make it personal.
Adding in your initials on a monogrammed towel is also always a lovely touch!
For more information, visit http://bliss-athome.com/2015/04/10/10-tips-to-give-your-bathroom-high-end-style/
9 Kitchen Trends That Can't Go Wrong!
Posted on June 23, 2015
1. Love White? You Won’t Go Wrong
It’s hard to believe that white kitchens could get any more popular. But the preference for white cabinets continues to soar. Sixty-seven percent of National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) members said that white is their top choice for cabinets, a 20% climb from two years ago. And layering white on white — white backsplashes beneath white cabinets on white countertops — was spotlighted in the 2014 Best in American Living Awards presented by the National Association of Home Builders.
2. Want Color? Go for Neutral Gray
The popularity of sleek, sophisticated gray color schemes is soaring. Seventy-one percent of NKBA designers said gray is the fastest-growing color scheme for kitchens in 2014.
But gray can be tricky. In cold, cloudy climates, gray can appear frozen unless you use it on warm materials like wood cabinets, or pair it with hot colors likes reds and yellows. On the other hand, gray can appear pleasantly cool in sunny, hot climates — a breath of fresh air in heat and humidity. So while white kitchens are a safe bet, gray is neutral enough — and close enough to white — to have staying power if you use it well.
3. Embrace Smaller Appliances
Small is big these days. Micro-living is taking off for millennials and retirees. Owners of multigenerational homes are installing tiny, secondary kitchens for returning adult children and elderly parents.
Typically, these micro-kitchens feature a two-burner cooktop, combo microwave/convection oven, 18-inch dishwasher, and 60-inch fridge or refrigerator drawer.
4. Choose Quartz Counters Over Granite
In 2013, quartz and granite almost tied in countertop popularity. But in 2014, the trend is definitely toward quartz.
“Consumers Reports” says quartz is the toughest countertop material, which resists scratches, burns, and chips. Crushed quartz stone is mixed with resin to produce countertops that range from solid colors to the look of real granite, but they’ll beat natural stone in toughness. It’s easy to maintain, and unlike granite, you don’t have to seal it annually to prevent stains.
5. Invest in LEDs
Ribbons of LEDs are showing up in the weirdest — and most wonderful — kitchen places: Along toe kicks as nightlights; on the inside of cabinet doors to show off grandma’s china; concealed in crown molding to wash ceilings with light.
LED rope or cove lights are gaining in popularity because:
- LEDs come in a rainbow of colors, from bright to soft white, red, blue, and green.
- You can get creative about where you install them.
- LEDs emit virtually no heat, so you can keep them on forever without burning cabinets or walls.
- LEDs are energy efficient, lasting 50,000 hours on average — five times longer than CFLs.
6. Rethink Your Fridge
Refrigeration is no longer limited to a single, hulking unit. Homeowners are customizing their cooling needs with “point of use” refrigeration, adding cool where they need it.
That could mean adding a counter-height produce fridge in your prep island, next to a wine cooler for the adults, and a juice/soda fridge for the kids.
7. Install a Touch-Activated Faucet
Touch-activated faucets are bursting out the fad category into the kitchen must-have column. In fact, in 2013 their popularity jumped to 30% from 20% the year before.
On the face of it, touch-activated seems a little gimmicky, and with prices starting around $350, it’s certainly a lot of money. But it’s great for those times when you’ve got dirty, chicken-goopy hands, and for those in your household who refuse to turn water on and off between tasks because it’s too much hassle. And as water becomes scarcer, anything that saves gallons will have value — and save you on your water bills.
8. Stick with Transitional Design
More than 60% of NKBA designers say contemporary, with its sleek simplicity, is the fastest-growing kitchen style. Fussy doodads and decorative and distressed glazes are out.
Contemporary looks sleek and clean, but can also come across as cold. The design encourages a non-cluttered look, which can be hard to maintain in a busy home. So it’s better to hedge your bets with transitional design, which combines contemporary and traditional to exploit the best parts of each.
9. Embrace Accessibility Because It’ll Make Your Life Easier
Three here-to-stay trends:
1. Side-opening ovens at counter height: You don’t have to reach up or bend down to fetch your turkey, just comfortably slide it out. It’s one of those slap-your-forehead tweaks that make cooking so much more ergonomic and accessible for everyone.
2. Drawers with deep pockets: Base cabinets have evolved from back-bending storage for pots and pans to deep drawer space — typically 24 inches deep — that can hold just about everything in your kitchen.
Continuing that evolution — heck, let’s call a revolution — are deep drawer organizers, ranging from $7 to more than $200, that make sure everything stays in its place, rather than rumble around in chaos. You can customize drawers with:
- Slots to hold plates and store knives
- Dividers to keep your water bottles separate from your vinegar collection
- Stackable trays that keep utensils away from flatware
- Removable boxes that let you reorganize the drawers at will
3. Microwave drawers: Just like the side-opening oven, by installing the microwave below counter height in a drawer, it’s easier for everyone to use. Just open it up put your food inside, close, and start it. That’s better than above-oven height, which has been the typical location for many years.
Visit http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/kitchens/9-kitchen-trends-that-cant-go-wrong/ for more information.
Posted on June 17, 2015
Introducing the "Red Dot Design Award" winning "Artesso" Faucet from Brizo!
"The esteemed recognition from Red Dot confirms the Brizo brand's commitment to living fashion through high-quality, world-class products." - Sarah Schlifke
Designed for style and function
"The Artesso collection was inspired by everything from factories and forged metal to farming tools and inventions of the time," said Seth Fritz, Brizo product lead industrial designer. "We wanted this design to work in a contemporary kitchen or a tradition kitchen, living as a statement piece in both environments."
Toledo HBA House and Home Show
Posted on February 20, 2015
|Toledo Area House and Home Show featuring
Waterhouse Bath and Kitchen Studio
Join Us February 20th-22nd!
|Waterhouse Bath and Kitchen Studio is the only locally family owned business in the kitchen and bath trade in the greater Toledo area. Our mission is to be the premier provider of superior bath and kitchen fixtures. We strive for cutting edge style, innovative design, and unmatched expertise.
Waterhouse Kitchen and Bath Studio will be featured in this years annual Toledo area House and Home Show, located in the Showcase Home.
|$8.00 at the door
Children 12 and under, free
**Bring a donation for the Toledo Area Humane Society and receive a $2.00 discount off regular price admission.
Friday, February 20, 2015:
Saturday, February 21, 2015:
Sunday, February 22, 2015:
|SeaGate Convention Centre
401 Jefferson Ave.
Toledo, OH 43604
|See displays from over 150 exhibitors, tour our newly constructed Showcase Home featuring the newest and best in home innovations, enjoy live demonstrations on stage, cooking demonstrations from Toledo's top restaurants on Saturday and Sunday, and bring the family to enjoy our new Kid's Zone featuring fun and educational activities!
Make a Resolution to Move Forward
Posted on February 02, 2015
Make a resolution to move forward
I hope each of you had a very happy holiday season shared with family and great friends. Well, 2014 is behind us, and here we are in 2015! Breathe in deeply through your nose. Do you smell it? AHHHHH, it still has that new year smell. The smell of potential change mixed with the promise to do better and BAM, you have yourself a resolution.
It’s also a time for identifying strategic objectives for the coming year and the critical steps necessary to achieve those objectives. Here’s a few of those pesky New Year’s resolutions I put together to help move your showroom business in the right direction. I promise, not a single one mentions food or weight.
Most showrooms have shifted their marketing emphasis to e-mail marketing and social media, targeted specifically to known, proven customers. But more work needs to be done to develop a more consistent and focused marketing program.
This involves the structured frequency that comes with a well-thought-out marketing calendar, and messaging and design that reflects the store's personality or image to make each communication compelling and eagerly anticipated. My bosses are reading this astounded that I suggested thinking ahead.
More and better events
I have mentioned this in the past as part of a marketing initiative, many top showrooms are looking to increase the number of events they hold, while making them consistently more appealing. At the core of their marketing strategy is the objective to deepen relationships with their existing and potentially new customers.
Events are a critical component in that effort. Trust me, there’s no shortage of unique ideas.
If you look around our industry, you will find that, as much as customers love them, planning and executing these events take some effort and creativity. No matter the amount of work it takes executing a successful event, you will find they can prove to be most rewarding and profitable in the long run.
Now that is easy for me to say as I usually task my staff with the execution of events, even making someone our official events' coordinator. I lost count how many times we were at the showroom until two in the morning the day before or of an event.
Shake up your product mix
The lifeblood of any successful showroom is new! New drives sales increases. New items, new lines, new categories. Very few showrooms have ever increased margins on the same old, same-old.
The most successful showrooms consistently test new merchandise. All in an effort to grow and achieve higher margins. Their merchandise is primarily highly discretionary, and their customers are prepared to pay more for things that are more fashionable, more distinctive, of better quality. Shaking up your mix and trading up is the essential process of identifying the most compelling new thing and a way to keep margins growing!
Create a more distinctive customer experience
Each showroom is very different, for the simple reason that every independent retailer is unique. It’s that quality that separates independent retailers from the cookie-cutter chains. For every independent retailer, that uniqueness is a key strategic asset. Showrooms should be emphasizing those things that make them distinctive, that make them more memorable and compelling. Take advantage of your region or city. Make the customers' experience a truly memorable one!
Upgrade the sales staff
This is an uncomfortable one for most of us, and yet it is one of the most obvious. I’m a believer that great salespeople are born, not made. Train up somebody who’s not a natural-born seller for a year, and they still won’t be as productive as the natural just walking through the door. You have to face facts and ask yourself how much do you think a single natural might be able to increase your sales.
My experience is that the answer begins at 20%. Just as important, you have to ask how much the current staff is costing beyond payroll. So the question any manager has to ask is: Are you carrying your staff? If you are a showroom person reading this, before you send me a hate e-mail, you should ask yourself if you are an asset to your company and why.
Explore new and different growth opportunities
Many showrooms come to the point where their initial objectives have been achieved, and the store is performing at a level that allows them to ask what’s next. Growth can come in different ways. Some showrooms choose to explore additional stores, to take what they do well to additional markets. Others want to explore expanding the existing store into additional products and categories, to add on to what they are offering to their existing customers, while attracting new customers.
Change is the only name of the game!
If you're not moving forward, what’s the point? I recently watched an inspirational video with Steve Harvey in which he said — and I am paraphrasing — “You have to jump, you have to take a leap of faith.” That is what every successful person has done to get where they are today. I really suggest you look up his YouTube video titled "Leap of Faith."
See, I don’t just write these things, I live them just like you. Many of these are items I will be working on enacting within our showroom in 2015. I wonder if my staff will wonder if I added the "Upgrade the sales staff" for their eyes or not? It’s good to always try to have fun, too!
You may have other things that seem more appropriate for your showroom. Whatever you identify, the key point is that there’s no standing still. You need to continually be moving forward to keep from falling behind. Make a resolution to do something and keep that resolution. Happy New Year!
Oh, one last thing. I will be attending the opening day of KBIS in Vegas. If you are there and see me walking abound please come up and say hi; it would be my pleasure to meet you. I truly hope to see you there!
- See more at: http://www.thewholesaler.com/content/make-resolution-move-forward#sthash.GW3ouwTd.dpuf
New Years Hours
Posted on December 30, 2014
Waterhouse bath & kitchen studio will be open from 9am-noon on Wednesday December 31st. We will be closed on Thursday January 1st. We will be open Friday & Saturday for normal business hours. Have a Happy New Year!
Deck Your Showroom
Posted on December 27, 2014
Deck your showroom! 12 days of kitchen and bath Christmas cheer
By Dion Wilson
The holiday season is a fun and exciting time for most people. Personally, it is my favorite time of year. I loved this time of year as a child, but as a parent I love it even more. Now our industry is not the first you think of when you think of the holiday shopping. Typically you won't find a whirlpool or a custom shower system under the tree Christmas morning. To which I ask, why not? I mean seriously, if you can promote a new car and wrap it in a big, red bow, why not a freestanding tub or new touch activated kitchen faucet? Sorry, got off on a little rant. So, until that day arrives you still can bring some holiday spirit to your showroom and have fun with your loyal and new customers.
First let's start by decorating your showroom for the holidays. I mean, go all out. Put up a tree, or four, like we do in our showroom. Add toy soldiers, garland, lights, lights and more lights! Make your showroom a holiday wonderland! Since it is the holiday season I have included some pictures from the last few years of our showroom at the holidays. I know, what can I say? I am a giver...
Now, I realize wholesalers and many standard wholesale showrooms within our industry are allergic to the idea of “RETAIL” sales! It’s okay, step away from the ledge as I am here to help! To aid you in your showrooms' holiday season I have come up with a sort of retail-friendly showroom Advent Calendar for the 12 Days of Christmas. However, instead of a piece of candy (or two turtle doves), each day brings a sweet insight or business tip for the holiday season in your store. Set your budget accordingly. As I have said before, you can make something look like a million dollars without spending that much.
1 (Sunday, December 14)
For Twitter Tuesday, use social media like Facebook and Twitter to promote 12 last-minute gift ideas – one each day. Starting today, offer a great gift at a discount. Perhaps it's something you have extra inventory of or something that's a standard item you carry. Also tell your fans and followers to check back daily for the latest last-minute gift ideas. Pssst.... If your showroom is not active in social media you should expect a lump of coal in your very near future!
2 (Monday, December 15)
Call a showroom meeting with all your staff and gather everyone's creative ideas on how to make it through the next two weeks — both in terms of maximizing sales and keeping everyone sane. Have each employee select a product, brand or gift that they're going to focus on each day and introduce every customer to. Make sure each person chooses something new each day. Track your results and award a prize to the person who sells the most by Christmas Eve.
3 (Tuesday, December 16)
Set up a table of Christmas cookies for customers to nibble on while they shop. Send one employee out to distribute flyers throughout a local mall or shopping district advertising your "snack while you shop for kitchen and bath" event. You may attract customers who never noticed your store before.
4 (Wednesday, December 17)
Pre-wrap and label your top 10 sellers and put them on prominent display so shoppers can grab them and go. Make sure you promote your store by using branded wrapping paper or even a simple sticker with your store name. Don't forget to put the price tag on the wrapping paper – not on the product inside. This can be your best-selling kitchen faucet, handshower or sink.
5 (Thursday, December 18)
Set up a wrapping station to help shoppers. Invite local Girl Scout troops or elementary schools to do the wrapping in return for a donation to their cause. Everybody wins! Now if your showroom is not open Saturdays, well, you are now on my naughty list!
7 (Friday, December 19)
Make it extraordinary for your team by offering free lunch or dinner. Advertise through social media that it's a special one-day sale and offer amazing deals on your commodity brands. Set a goal, and if the store hits that specific one days sales goals, reward your team.
8 (Saturday, December 20)
Flush out your inventory. It is the year's end so make sure every item that you want to move is on the sales floor; you can't sell it if it's sitting in the backroom. Furthermore, you want your store to look full and inviting to shoppers. Remember, full does not mean cluttered.
8 (Sunday, December 21)
Start offering markdowns on goods that you want gone by Christmas. Don't be afraid to use deep discounts to move excess inventory. Promote the deals with in-store signage, and ask your showroom staff to let customers know about the new markdowns. Another clever approach is to offer an early-bird special to shoppers who come in before noon. Give them an extra percentage off their purchases. Even those who miss the sale will notice your story.
9 (Monday, December 22)
Invite a therapist or masseuse to give onsite chair massages and/or foot massages. Everyone is getting stressed at this point and needs some relief for those weary package-toting muscles and aching arches. For those who don't like massages, a complimentary glass of bubbly (champagne, sparkling cider) or hot chocolate might be nice.
10 (Tuesday, December 23)
It's now time – or past time – to open earlier and/or stay open later to accommodate all the shoppers who still have a lot of work to do on their list. Promote the event on social media and with an e-mail campaign and offer free coffee to bolster these early birds and night owls.
11 (Wednesday, December 24 – Christmas Eve!)
Things are getting hectic for many shoppers by now. Help them out by scouring the store for all small items under $10 and create a large "stocking stuffer" display table. Shower heads, gift certificates, heck maybe they have a stocking big enough to fit a new kitchen sink?
12 (Thursday, December 25– Christmas Day!)
You're done! This is the day to relax with your family and friends, and to reflect on all your hard work during the holiday season.
If you read my articles (and I am hoping you do!) you will notice I like to joke. This, however, is something I am very serious about. We all need to remember what the holidays are truly about. The holidays are a time for giving. Persuade your company into committing a specific percentage of your 12 days of Christmas sales to your local shelter, food bank or other worth holiday charity. Maybe go on step further and do the whole month of December or the entire holiday season from Thanksgiving on. If they don’t agree to the donation see if you can collect new toys for needy children or gently used or new coats for the Salvation Army at your showroom. Show your community you care and you are vested in helping the less fortunate. Trust me, you will find there is no greater joy than the gift of giving.
- See more at: http://www.thewholesaler.com/dec_14/wilson.php#sthash.xOV1vhYO.dpuf
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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