When I examine kitchen and bath design businesses, I am surprised to see how little effort goes into designing systems that can assure the success of a project. Having proper procedures and forms to fill out are basic tools for running a business, yet too few dealers have these in place for dealing with prospective clients.
Whether customers call you on the telephone or come in person to visit the showroom, having standard procedures in place will give your employees guidance on how to handle potential clients, and help you seal the deal with many who take the time to seek you out.
How do you handle customers when they call in on the telephone, saying they are interested in a new kitchen or bath remodel? My experience tells me that most of you simply try to answer the questions of the caller. Some callers might ask you to come by their home to give them an estimate, while others might ask what they need to do to get a bid done. Still others may not even go that far, simply asking how the process works.
If you don’t have a system in place to deal with this type of call, the person who answers the phone may not be able to help the customer properly. The employee might simply set a time to go to the home to talk about the project, or ask for the caller to come into the showroom first.
Handling this situation properly is critical to your business, and a system should be in place for this type of call. In my opinion, too many hours are wasted with non-qualified buyers. So, you want to try to qualify your leads to the best of your ability.
Once it has been established that the caller is interested in a new kitchen or bath, the first thing the salesperson should do is ask if it is okay to get some information from the caller. Once this has been granted, a form should be filled out that includes a space for the person’s name, address, e-mail address, home, work and cell phone numbers and directions to the home, if offered.
The form should also have room to take down information about the project. Assuming the project is a kitchen, questions should be asked regarding cabinets, such as wood specie, door style, color and construction type. Whether the caller can provide this information or not, it offers an opportunity to discuss some of the products that you offer without giving out too much information.
Following the same pattern, questions should then be asked about the customer’s preferences when it comes to countertops, wet-water fixtures, appliances and flooring. Often, however, you won’t get that far into the conversation, because the customer will be surprised and confused by the options. This is when the salesperson should suggest that the caller make an appointment to visit the showroom to get an overview of the products available.
By using this system, you have established a relationship with the customer. They will respect the fact that you took this much interest in them over the phone.
This system also ensures that you do not go out to every customer’s home simply because they called and asked you to. The objective is to get the caller to come to you before you go to see them.
A similar system should also be in place to deal with walk-in clients. While the two are similar, a walk-in lead is generally better than a call-in because the clients are actually in your showroom.
The mistake often made with walk-in leads is that salespeople begin a showroom tour before taking down any information concerning the project. The best approach would be to ask if it is okay to ask them some questions, and begin with asking how much time they can give you to fill out the questionnaire and take a showroom tour. This exercise should take at least an hour, so you need to explain that in your discussion.
This questionnaire is a much more detailed form than the one used for the call-in customer. To begin, take the client to an office or quiet place in the showroom where you can sit down and chat. Make them feel like a guest in your home.
While some clients may want to walk through the showroom first – and they certainly can – the key to really helping the client is to have the information in hand that is going to help sell that new kitchen or bath. It’s also important to understand that not all people who come into your showroom are going to become customers. With that in mind, you can figure out if they really want help or if they just want to look around.
If the customer is truly interested, you should take down all of the basic information previously mentioned. The form should also have a place for appointments, including the date of the showroom visit, the date for the in-home appointment, the check measure date and a final close date.
The purpose of this questionnaire is simple; the answers the customer gives you determine the types of products you will show them. Another benefit of the questionnaire is that it will help you understand what your customers, where they have been and how serious they are about this project.
You will also be able to determine the type of customer they are by the way they answer the questions. Are they the type of client that you want to do business with? Maybe they are hard to please, or they are the customer from “you know where.” Filiing out the questionnaire will tell you what you need to know.
The questionnaire will also help them come up with a realistic budget. The budget question is left for the end of the questionnaire, and it is placed at the end for a very good reason. One, after answering 45 minutes worth of questions, they are very unlikely to refuse to answer this one. Second, they trust you by this point, and understand that there must be a reason for the question.
Of course, for most people, discussing budgets – especially with salespeople – is tough. However, the truth is, without knowing the budget, you can’t really help your client.
Once this form is completed, the next step is the showroom tour. Since they’ve taken the time to fill out the questionnaire, you can lead your clients to the products that are going to fit their needs, both in budget and style.
While these forms are just the beginning of what is necessary for a successful kitchen or bath sale, they shout “professionalism” to the customer. They tell the customer that you care enough to spend a lot of time with them, and that you really know your business.