The Art of Upselling in the Kitchen and Bath Industry

For the past several months we have been hearing the term “upselling.” While this seems to be a new thing for the selling field, it’s not really new at all. And it’s something that should be brought to the table for some serious discussion.
When I purchase a new suit, a good salesperson will always bring out a shirt, tie, belt – anything that might go with that suit. This concept makes sense for all industries selling to clients.

When I started in the kitchen and bath industry, the goal was to sell a client a new kitchen or bath remodeling project. A kitchen project consisted of cabinets, countertops, a floor and appliances, as well as wet-water appliances such as a sink, faucet and garbage disposal.

But today things have changed. While there’s much more that can be included in a remodel, many firms are leaving a lot of money and profits on the table.

Selling the Whole Package

When looking at what a home center can offer our clients, it pretty much encompasses the whole room. From the floor to the ceiling and everything in between, clients can purchase everything needed to complete a kitchen or bath, including the table and chairs, the paint and wallpaper.

Sadly, when many kitchen and bath designers look at designing a room, they are not seeing the whole picture. Clients who want to redo their kitchens have a wide range of choices with regard to quality, style and cost. Many designers I speak with are very happy with the product lines they offer, and they think that, because they are happy and their customers appear to be happy, that’s all they need to do.

The truth is, however, that many customers visit different showrooms so they can see what’s out there. We have an obligation to our customers to give them the best value for their budget. The trick is to know what they really want.

Through buying groups firms now have a much greater range of products available to them and, in turn, available to their customers. Until we joined The Bath and Kitchen Buying Group, for example, we never had a selection of kitchen and bath lighting available to us direct from the manufacturer. We did not sell bar stools or fancy knobs and pulls. We only had a small selection of ceramic tile – and that was through the distributor only. Appliances and bathroom fixtures were only available to us through local distributors.

As a member of a buying group, many of these products are now available to us, and we have the ability to sell up to the better products and the bigger profit margin products. We need to take advantage of that. Clients today are looking for the turnkey operation that will make their life easier. We should not make it difficult for clients to purchase an entire project from one firm.

The truth is, your clients are just like you. How many of you are interested only in the price of the product you are looking to buy? How many of you have the time to search out all of the details of the product you are seeking? Then why are you assuming that your clients are looking only for the best price?

Many clients say you don’t have to be the least expensive, as long as you offer the best service and are the most professional. Price is not the key reason our clients are making purchases.

The Right Presentation

That doesn’t mean that every client who comes knocking is the right fit for your company. There’s still a need to qualify customers. I’ve been in many situations where, after beginning the design of a project, it became clear we weren’t within the client’s budget. When I would relay that to the client, often the client would want to see the design anyway, and the client would end up investing more money than initially planned. But the client gets what he/she wants.

As part of a successful presentation, after the final design, we create two columns of pricing: the first column lists all of the things the customer told us he/she wanted, and the second is all of the upgrades he/she can have, along with the cost associated with them.

We do this with every product in the design, including flooring and lighting, so the client can see the cost difference. We’ll include bar stools, tables and fixtures, as well as detail items such as soap dispensers, hot-water dispensers, water filtration systems and garbage disposals. For the bath, we’ll include things such as glass for the shower door, floor warming systems or a mirror with a TV.

There are so many items that the client is not even aware of, and we as dealers and designers should be introducing these products during the design process. All it takes is a little thought about what else can go into this project. If it’s offered elsewhere, then we should also be able to offer it.

If you don’t think you can compete with certain items, then let the client know that you will be happy to price it for him/her, and if he/she doesn’t see the value in making the purchase from you, the client can get it him/herself. But at least make the offer and try to see it as a package, not an individual item. We are in the business of selling kitchens and baths, so sell all of the items that found in these rooms.

Take a look at your firm, too. As a client, would you like to do business with your firm? Is it easy or hard to work with your firm? Call your clients who went elsewhere for their projects and ask them why they did not buy from you. You may be very surprised with the answers they give you.

If you do not belong to a kitchen and bath buying group, consider joining one. You can learn a lot about ancillary products that truly are the most profitable items you will sell.

The old adage that you shouldn’t sell something if you can’t make a 40% profit is out of date. The key to selling projects now is making the overall percentage of profit on the whole job, not the individual items you sell.

Upsell starting today and see how it affects your business in a positive way.