Do you compete against huge home centers in your area? What do you sell? Do decorators sell window treatments? If your answer is yes, you have decided to compete against these billion dollar companies. Just as Vertilux sells service with our products, you too must offer something along with your products.
But you ask, "I give free installation, that's a service isn't it?" Yes, it is, but do you tell people it's a service and do they know it is of real value? Is it free, or is it a waived fee with purchase? The key to added value is letting your customers know it is there.
Home centers offer customers low prices. You can offer measuring, design assistance, all the dirty work of finding high-quality suppliers, and installation. You can charge for some of these services if you wish, but you always can provide customers more than the home centers. This is because compared to many of them, you are better trained, are more experienced and are better read in design and decorating trends.
The best way to market these added values would be to list many of your services and let your customers know this is what they get when they work with you.
DEVELOP SERVICE BENEFITS
We often hear from fabricators that the Vertilux Collection of vertical fabrics is the only collection their customers want. These are fabricators who offer a full selection of fabrics in a range of qualities. To market our line to these customers, we have developed specific service benefits for them-for example, an attractive sample book with truly washable fabrics. When our customers try to sell the vertical fabrics, the washability and the attractive presentation of our sample books make it an easy sale. We push this message over and over, so even if one of our customers forgets that the fabrics are washable, they will remember the quality of the fabrics and that retail customers were impressed by the sample books.
By developing these service benefits-high quality, washability, ease of purchase and an attractive sample book-Vertilux has identified what we actually sell and made it easy for customers to buy from us. You too should develop service benefits to sell.
Vertilux also has added product benefits to help us compete. Each of our products has specific advantages compared to competing products that make them the best available. As a manufacturer, do you think we just engineer these products and forget them? No, we tout them. For example, Louverwood is warp resistant, Louverlux mini-blinds have the best cord lock, Rollux roller shades are attractive and consumer- and installer-friendly. We promote these benefits to our customers and help them promote them to their customers.
Learn the benefits of the products you sell, and sell these benefits along with your services.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
It can be difficult to toot your own horn when it comes to your services, but if you don't your customers might not understand all you do for them. Advertising or listing these services on a quote or an invoice will help build your reputation, and you will get referrals from your customers.
There is another technique you can use to help your competitive position. Visit other stores in your area. Notice that most of them all have the same brands and maybe a few offer private labels. Yes customers can get many of the newest products and the new technology incorporated into them from several stores. But for the most part, it takes many months for these stores to bring out a new product. You can offer more diverse products by shopping around, reading trade magazines such as this one, and speaking with your fabricators and suppliers. Offer your customers high-quality alternatives. If your competition does not sell it, they can't beat your prices. It they do sell it, learn more about it and sell it to you customers along with your services.
The home centers are here to stay because they offer special services to their customers. These include excellent prices on a diverse assortment of products. They offer something you can never offer, but that does not mean there is no place for you. Find your product and service benefits and work from these.
How can you survive in this market? Compete on your own terms, find your niche and promote yourself.
Ben Kutell is national sales executive for Vertilux Collection, Miami, FL; (800) 356-8837; e-mail: email@example.com; www.vertilux.com.