Only two things stop you from unlimited growth: enough leads coming in and qualified consultants to close them! Sometimes, in the hustle of daily operations — delivery challenges, customer call-backs, installer mistakes and employees that call in sick—we forget that growing a business is not mainly about what we do after we get a customer, but what we do to create more customers.
But that’s what makes you great as a manager. You are on the
firing line every day balancing it all: pleasing customers you have
and creating new ones. It’s sort of like spinning plates on a
stick. You’ve seen those circus performers that add one plate
after another until they have 10 or more spinning at once. I kind
of liken that to the window coverings business. You have to keep the
old plates spinning while you add new ones.
BETTER INFORMATION MEANS BETTER MANAGEMENT
When you get down to it, if you have the desire to grow, there are
only two things that stop you: getting more leads affordably and having
a qualified consultant to go on appointments. Nothing new here. It
has always been that way in window coverings.
What is new is the information we have to manage these basics. Fresh
from your 2003 yearend reports, for the first time, managers have
database systems to get the facts. Here’s what they are finding.
1. Leads for appointments cost from $130 on the low side to over $200,
even $300 and more.
2. Closing rates from media run as low as 25 percent and overall,
including repeat and referrals, 50 percent is common (it used to be
60 percent plus). Even repeat and referral closing ratios are only
60 to 70 percent.
AVERAGES DON’T TELL THE STORY—FACTS
While these are averages, they don’t tell the whole story. The
faster you grow, the more you waste. That’s always been the case,
but it helps to know the cost. For example, several million-dollar
managers using the yellow pages find that leads are strong, but closing
ratios and size of sale are terrible. Not to say that yellow page
advertising isn’t good. It can be. But only now are leaders getting
the whole story.
New database software tells how many appointments were generated,
how many customers were sold, the average size of sale and the total
sales by each advertising source!
NEW INFORMATION EQUALS NEW SOLUTIONS
With solid information, window coverings leaders are tackling the
historic challenges of managing leads and salespeople in a whole new
way. The inspiration comes from home-based business owners who don’t
Good ones are getting business with minimum media investment. They
distribute flyers and join networking groups. They call customers
and send mail quarterly. They send e-mail newsletters to customers
and prospects. There are lots of ways to create leads and sales in
addition to conventional media, and that drives down the cost of leads.
Others are planning their advertising better. With facts at hand,
an ad budget of $50,000 can be redirected to get better results. Eliminating
one unproductive ad can cover the total cost of computer systems.
Then they have information not only on advertising, but also on decorator
sales performance. It’s becoming a whole new world as information
reminds us, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage
DECORATORS WHO GET THEIR OWN LEADS?
Lead and appointment costs are only part of the problem. There still
is the need for qualified consultants to convert appointments to sales.
With closing ratios approaching 50 percent overall and less than 30
percent for media leads, there is an urgent need for sales training
to upgrade skills of current consultants and to train new ones.
This wonderful industry has a lot to offer career-minded men and women:
high status profession, flexibility, control, great customers who
become friends for life, and so much more. There are lots of men and
women selling copy machines, automobiles, real estate and advertising
that would love a crack at a career in our business.
With good training and good people, it’s a small step to hiring
decorators who get their own appointments and earn bonus commissions
for doing it. Are we there yet? No. But some leaders are working on
it. Stay tuned and we’ll tell you what they learn.
ONLY TWO THINGS BUILD A BUSINESS
While you’re spinning all those plates and handling the problems,
remember, if you have fire in your belly and really want to grow,
your job is to get leads and manage consultants to close sales. You
can do it when it’s what you want!
If you want to know more, request the new report, “Training Sales
Consultants to Get Their Own Leads. ” E-mail to steve@cust Emers.com
your name phone, and e-mail address.
Whether you are a sole manager who aspires to higher sales, or you manage
50 window fashion decorators in a multi-million dollar business, this series
help you manage sales better and increase your profitability. Articles are based
on Steven C. Bursten’s actual experience with sales and financial information
for hundreds of window coverings businesses. As the retired founder of Decorating
Den Interiors and author of a how-to book on new business start up, “Bootstrap
Entrepreneur,” Bursten is a leading expert in Web site and e-mail marketing
through his company, custEmers.com. Questions and comments welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (888) 333-8981.