Strategies for Getting the Whole Job

A customer walked into a showroom asking for a deadbolt lock. Several hours later, he departed having purchased more than $80,000 of decorative plumbing and hardware. How did that happen? A sales professional took the time to ask the right questions and then listen carefully to the responses.

While converting a $37 request into an $80,000 sale doesn't happen every day, this does illustrate the value of getting the whole job.

With decorative hardware and plumbing comprising some 5-7% of the cost in new construction, opportunities to cross sell, sell up and sell complete should not be overlooked. DPH showrooms are uniquely positioned to provide total hardware and plumbing package solutions that might otherwise be sourced piecemeal through other channels.

Single sourcing these DPH items offers many advantages to the homeowner, designer and contractor. The coordination of finishes is seamless. Anticipation and avoidance of mechanically incompatible items is second nature. Errors, omissions and overlooked items are minimized. There is a single source for technical information during planning and construction. One company handles schedule and delivery. Bookkeeping and cost accounting is simplified. One company fulfills warranty issues.

The ideal is to sell directly to the owner, with installation provided by a contractor commonly referred to as "owner furnished contractor installed" (OFCI). OFCI creates the most likely scenario for getting the whole job and frequently yields the best results for everyone. That's because contractors don't have to expend time holding a client's hand during the selection process; schedules can be maintained by having a single resource and supply chain that will deliver various products at different phases of construction, and clients have a single resource to address warranty issues.

Toppling Obstacles
Showrooms faced with contractor pricing obstacles need to provide value-added services that illustrate the benefit of relying on a single source for DPH products. These include storing products and delivering them on an as-needed basis, serving as a technical resource during installation and standing behind warranties.

Jeff Burton from Bath and Beyond notes, "We advise contractors and designers that we want the entire job and have the skill, training and experience to assure a smooth project. We will not service products that we don't sell and a number of reps have taken a position that they won't service products that are not purchased from showrooms in their territories."

It's also important for showrooms bidding on jobs to be careful what information is disseminated, and to whom. Julie Koch of Elegant Additions claims, "None of the inventory in our showroom is identified by the vendor or a model number that is useful to anyone other than showroom personnel. We are responsive to bid requests, but our proposals do not include enough information to allow them to be used for competitive bidding."

Debbie Miller of Miller's Fine Decorative Hardware believes that it's easier to get the whole job when the showroom orchestrates the sales process. "Our salespeople are trained to get the entire job at the beginning of the design phase. We start with the plumbing and matching accessories, working our way into the kitchen and bar with a smooth transition into door hardware, finish and cabinet hardware and boutique accessories," she says.

Another advantage a showroom can use is to offer proprietary and private label products unavailable from other sources. As Burton says, "Don't always rely on a single manufacturer. Mix five or six manufacturers' products together. Customize a proposal to meet the clients' needs using products that cannot be found elsewhere, and you stand apart because of your unique product lines and creativity."

Mark Soble of Westend Hardware Supply Co. agrees that providing value-added services is key. To that end, designers in his showrooms walk customers through an entire project and provide material lists that are needed to achieve the client's goals.

Koch encourages customers to select all items at the beginning of the project to help assist with scheduling and to ensure that design consistency is not compromised. "We encourage customers to select cabinet hardware immediately after choosing plumbing products while the finishes remain fresh in their mind," she says.

Miller adds another practical reason to have customers purchase all products at the start of a project. "Special finishes govern approximately 75% of the purchases in our showroom. If customers wait to purchase door hardware six or nine months after ordering plumbing products, they may find it difficult to match finishes exactly."

The whole job approach should apply to every customer who enters a showroom. Customers who want to buy a faucet should be asked if they would like a filtration system to go with it. Most customers do not think about changing door hinges, switchplates or cabinet and door hardware to match the finish of their new faucet.

Proper sales training will help salespeople ask the right questions so they can obtain the whole job. Similarly, customers who come to a showroom looking for a vessel sink don't generally think or ask about a drain or p-trap. They may not even consider new faucets or a new vanity. The art of making a complete sale is directly related to the ability to listen to needs and understand a customer's vision. It involves educating customers and making them aware of options. When that occurs, it's win-win for everyone.