‘Twas the time after Covid and all had just opened

Not a builder was idle nor delivery on time

The plumbing was set with no faucets on site

With all hoping that product soon would arrive

And we heard such a clatter

If I am not in my house for family Thanksgiving

I will dash you all, dash you all away…Then they offered a nod and off to their attorney they did trod.

Ahh, the holidays. The time when families and friends gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year. What a special time...unless you are in the building industry. You are swamped with projects, struggling to get any product you can as your job timelines start to slip into 2022. Now let’s add in the extra excitement and stress that these upcoming holidays are the first time many family and friends have gathered since 2019. The pressure will be on. What is a hard working showroom to do?

The answer to all the 2021 holiday pressures is to make decisions for your clients now. Make their product selections today, weeks before they even enter your showroom. Inventory is normally for the hot movers, must-have-now commodities and finishing items to get contractors off of the job. But, for the holiday push, it is all about stocking select, team-curated complete kitchen and bath packages so the designers and homeowners have some product options that they absolutely, 100% know are in stock now. These items might not be their dream selections but they will help get their dream job finished on time and remove some stress from all involved. Plus, your team knows what is popular and together you will create a viable set of attractive bathroom and kitchen packages your clients will appreciate now and enjoy for years.

The first step in this process is to start now, today, not tomorrow. The sooner you have these packages in stock, the sooner you can start publicizing this program.

The bathroom

First, choose the vendors you want to partner with. They must be profitable, highly profitable. They must offer you and your team solid and open lines of communication. And finally, they must be profitable, highly profitable.

Once you have decided on your vendors, meet with your team and select up to four style suites in two or three finishes. For simplicity and efficiency it is best that all use the same valving system. Decide what product functions you will inventory. The foundation is lavatory faucets, pressure balance shower, pressure balance tub and shower, a simple thermostat shower setup and floor-mounted tub set. Complemented by standard oval and square sinks, two or three free-standing bathtubs and simple toilets. If you would like to take it further, you can add coordinated mirrors, lights, hand showers etc. Do not forget the wall accessories. This is an easy add-on. It will add to your bottom line and they do not leak.

The last step is to set the displays. Each bathroom package needs to be shown in a complete vignette on a flat wall. If you are stocking that vignette in more than one finish, set one lavatory faucet in each of the other finishes in the vignette. And, if possible, all of the stocked package displays should be next to each other. This will allow your sales team to guide their customer to one area of the showroom. Explain the stock program and ask them to select the ones that they would like in their home. Try to put up the displays as soon as possible. A 6-to-8-week job aiming for a Thanksgiving party could start demo now.

The kitchen

In the post pandemic market, the opportunity of inventorying kitchen products for the holiday entertaining customer is twofold. First, the inventory will be there for those homeowners that are finishing up their dream home or gutting and remodeling their kitchen with the goal of looking marvelous for their holiday guests.

Secondly, if a kitchen faucet breaks or is looking tired, homeowners will need to replace it now. If you have a nice selection of kitchen faucets and coordinated accessories, customers will find you and buy from you. A tasteful homeowner would rather not be forced to buy a mediocre kitchen faucet from a big box store. Kitchen faucets are the centerpiece of the kitchen and must look just right. Design conscious homeowners would rather start their search at your elegant showroom to find a stylish solution.

The basic process steps are the same as for the bathroom noted above. Select your vendor and you and your staff select the products and finishes. Then get them on display in one area of the showroom. Try to offer a broad design and price range here. Do not get cheap. Stock a few of the more elegant kitchen faucets priced above $1,500 list. The customer might be in a rush but when the salespeople remind them the kitchen faucet and sink are the center of any smartly designed kitchen and the most used appliance in the kitchen, the customer will likely veer to style, functionality and statement.

Again, like the bathroom program, you can add coordinated kitchen accessories if your sales team is comfortable with the selections.

Taking the time to invest efficiently in building a supportive, smartly merchandised inventory system will be a big benefit for your builder and designer clientele. This inventory will take some pressure off them and help them wrap up their jobs for holiday party time. Over the next few weeks, they will be pestered by clients that want to start a job and have it completed for the holidays. Your investment in intelligently curated and stocked bathroom and kitchen packages will allow those contractors the luxury of knowing that the issue of slow-delivering plumbing fixture companies is moot. If they have the manpower for the additional work, they can make a few customers happy and add a bit to their bottom line.

This is an annual opportunity that has been greatly enhanced by most of us being locked in our homes for the last 18 months. People are tired, fed up and bored. They have just been set free and are looking forward to getting together and having a grand old time. And they want to have it all in an elegant kitchen with beautiful bathrooms.