Premier Bath and Kitchen showroom (Santa Rosa, CA), operated by Pace Supply, takes pride in offering innovative, cutting edge products in addition to the traditional items. Pictured: an Artisan farmhouse sink.

Call me a capitalist, wealth seeker or heaven forbid, even a Republican - but I have always believed that the main reason to start and own a business - any business - is to make money. The owners of businesses invest money, time and energy into their businesses with the hope that they will earn a profit. In most cases, the bigger that profit the better. Boy, don’t I wish governments at all levels operated under the same premise. But I better be careful not to get too political. My one and only motivation in penning this article month after month is to help you operate the very best showroom business you possibly can. And a big part of that is making money. Yes, contrary to what some folks believe, I strongly believe thatprofits are good!

I’d like to share some thoughts on how I believe you can make your showroom businesses more profitable. Not all of these ideas may work for you, but if there’s one, two or more that feel good, then put them to work for you and start enjoying bigger fruits for your labors. Many of these ideas will have to be signed off on by the owners and managers. Many of you sales consultants may see the wisdom of some of these ideas - but you may not have the authority to implement them. You can tear this article out of the magazine and forward it to a decision maker or two.

I’ll break the ideas into two different segments of the business: financial and marketing. Some of these you will have heard of before, others will be new.

  • Sell everyone! Yes, open up the doors to everyone! The homeowners are making the majority of the buying decisions. Many of these people would prefer to be doing the purchasing, especially if they believe they can save a nickel. Why sell to the plumbers at those deep 40% discounts when you can make 20 points more by selling direct to the homeowner?  Ditto for building and remodel contractors. Go after them and make higher margins on these sales also.

  • Know your marketplace. (It’s changed in the past 18 months!) I’ll bet new construction was a big part of your business two years ago. I’ll also bet it’s fallen way off. So what should you be doing?  In my opinion you should figure out how to capture as much of the remodel business as possible. Go after those baby boomers (aged 44-64). These people will be your biggest potential client for the next 15+ years. Learn how they like to shop and buy. Direct your marketing efforts towards them. Entice them into your showroom. Once they’ve walked thru the front door, lock it - and don’t let them go until they’ve bought everything for that remodel project they’re working on. (Remember the pitch on diversifying your products?)

  • Develop a marketing plan that spells out how to get the word out on who you are, what you do, and why you do it better/different/more unique than anybody else in your marketplace. Zero in on your target customers once you figure out who they are. Try some new things - i.e., zip code mailings to older high-end neighborhoods. Do educational functions and kick off charitable functions at the showroom. In general be more creative than ever before.

  • Make teaching/earning selling skills a high priority for your salespeople. Learn to be top-notch qualifiers and know how to “sell” the great values that you offer.

  • Know which products generate the highest margins and push these.

  • Learn how to sell all the “add-ons” (more on this in my next article).

  • Don’t just love and leave your customers. Learn how to become good “after-the-sale” marketers. Develop a friendly, rewarding way to generate referrals from these happy clients that you’ve just completed a job with.

  • Develop some creative partnerships with companies that sell related high-end building products. Do some joint advertising/promotions with kitchen cabinet companies or tile/granite suppliers if you don’t offer these products.

  • Make yourself unique in the products and services you offer. Unfortunately, as I’ve traveled these United States and have visited, toured, worked with dozens of wholesaler showrooms I find very little originality. Many of them look the same, sell the same products and are not creative in their approach to marketing. Become a student of retail and merchandising and put that newly learned knowledge to work for you. It’ll put you ahead of your competition.

    These are just a few ideas that I honestly believe can help you make your showrooms more profitable. If any of them seem like they might work for you, jump on them! Making more money and becoming more profitable is not a crime - it’s the reason you went into business in the first place!