You should have a formal/written business plan for your showroom operation.

Showroom operated by Indianapolis-based Economy Plumbing Supply. Photo by Pat Lenius 2007.

Yesterday I was talking with one of my consulting clients on the phone. I was reciting a few of the things that I believe she needed to concentrate on: people, profitability, payroll, prospects, promotion, products and several more. It struck me that many of the areas all started with the letter “P.” So, having the deadline for this article looming, I started to jot down as many words as possible that began with the letter “P” that pertained to the ultimate success of operating a showroom (or any business for that matter). 

Here are some of the words I came up with - and I didn’t have to open the dictionary once! I just started thinking about the areas that make a showroom successful. I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with additional ones. If you do, add them to the list and email them to me. Who knows, we (with your help) might be able to come up with enough to justify another article. These are NOT in any order of importance. It’s just how they came to me!

Passion- You have to have a passion for your company, your job, your products, your fellow employees, your vendors, and yes, even your clients. Passion shows through in your daily routines and it’s contagious.

Planning- You must have a plan. Even better, create maybe two or three plans. You should have a plan on where you want to go with your own professional career. You definitely should have a formal/written business plan for your showroom operation (where are you today, where do you want to be in one/three/five years from now and how are you going to get there?) Without a road map to tell you how to get there the odds are that you’ll get lost and possibly go down the wrong road. There’s an old adage that goes “Having no plan is just like planning to fail.”

Persistence- Persistence will keep you, your showroom and your company moving forward through our many learning experiences and through a down economy like we’ve all been experiencing.  You can’t ever give up - you have to reach down deep and move forward.

Preparation- Proper preparation sets you up for success and gives you the confidence needed to succeed. The Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared” applies very well to operating a showroom.  Prepare to succeed and you’ll win.

Position- You need to differentiate yourself from your competition. Your product, services and total value package has to put you in a position to win. Your goal is to position your showroom ahead of everyone else’s.

Problem Solving- Finding solutions to the many challenges that arise every day will help put you out in front. Look at “problems” as an opportunity and challenge. Solve them and be the winner!

Proposition- Your company’s brand, message and image must be clear and concise. Your customers must quickly be able to identify who you are and what you do.

Playing By the Rules- You must be legally compliant - always! You have to be 100% ethical and honest in everything you do, professionally and personally.

Partners- Aligning yourself with the very best partners in every area will help assure your showroom success. This would include fellow employees, vendors and yes, even your customers. It is very difficult to succeed alone. You should continually be working to improve your partner relationships.

Prioritize - You should have both short-term (today, tomorrow and this week), medium-term (one to 12 months) and long-term (more than one year) “To Do” lists, and ALL the items on these lists must be prioritized. This is part of the “road map” referred to earlier.

Payables - You must not only pay all of your bills on time, but must be sure to take advantage of ALL discounts offered for paying quickly. These dollars are all bottom line profit!

People - I’ve said it so many times in these articles:  Inventory and receivables are very important assets, but your people (employees) are your most important asset. Hire well, train well, motivate and communicate well and compensate well and you will achieve the goal of having the very best team of people!

Professional - Everything about your showroom must look/act professional. How your showroom looks, how your people dress and act, how you answer your phones, deliver your product and everything in between is important to the image you want to project. 

Public Relations, Publicity and Promotions - These three “P” words all pertain to helping tell your story. The better job you do getting positive informative articles written about your showroom and what a terrific source of luxury products it is, the easier your “sell” will be. This is an area where most wholesalers are weak. They need to put on their retail hats and become great merchandisers. Learning how to blow your own horn to tell folks how great you are is a unique talent. If you aren’t very good at it, seek some professional help!

Perfection - All day, every day, you should be working hard to seek perfection in everything that you do!

Policy and Procedures - You should have a formal/written Policy and Procedures Manual that spells out in detail how the business will be operated. Everyone in the company should be doing everything the exact same way. Everyone should be walking to the same beat!

Performance Evaluation - I strongly believe that every employee deserves to have a “sit down” with their boss at least once a year and be told exactly how well they are performing their job. This is the boss’s opportunity to mentor and coach the employee to be a more productive, better performing employee.

Professional Development
- Every showroom should have a formal/written training program that starts day one and never ends. This includes product training, computer and in-house policies and the all-important area of sales training. Ours is a selling business. Unfortunately, very few of you bother to teachselling skills!

Pricing- Your pricing structure for clients determines just how profitable your showroom operation will be. If you are not in the 35%+ gross margin range you are not doing a very good job. Managing sales, margins and expenses leads us to the reason you are in business.

Profitability- The reason for being in business is to make money! The owners invest “X” amount of money in the showroom and they should be able to make “X++” by being in business.

Profit and Loss Statements- Every showroom should generate an accuratemonthly profit and loss statement. How else can the owners and managers know whether the aforementioned return on investment is in fact working?

Well, I’ve run out of room, but following is a list of a dozen or so more “P” words that I could have built a case for in our list of “Ps for Success”: Practice, Participate, Patience, Pay, Play, Praise, Productivity, Promote, Prosper, Prudent, Punctual and Persuasive. How many more can you think of? How many of the above are you utilizing in your showroom? Which ones do you need to put on the “To Do” list (prioritized of course) to try and do better? Thanks for reading this and have a “Perfect” day!