Speaker Offers Strategies for Prospecting Beyond the Showroom
Chicago Learning to identify and take advantage of your kitchen and bath firm's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats can help you to expand your customer base, according to a leading kitchen and bath industry speaker.
The "S.W.O.T. Strategy," as it's called by Morton Block, CKD, CBD, IIDA, of Morton Block & Associates, in Elkins Park, PA, is based on identifying your kitchen or bath firm's strengths, weaknesses, business or growth opportunities and any competitive threats, and then using these to prospect for new customers beyond the showroom.
According to Block, who spoke here at the recent K/BIS, to successfully employ the S.W.O.T. strategy, business professionals should first list their company's strengths and weaknesses, examining each carefully to determine where and with whom the firm should be doing business.
Next, kitchen and bath dealers should list any existing opportunities, which he sees as the key to analyzing a business. Often, a business has many untapped avenues for growth that are not identified, simply because no one takes the time to analyze potential growth areas, he believes. Yet a successful firm knows its strengths and uses these to open the door to new and existing opportunities for growth.
Finally, any competitive or internal threats should be listed and analyzed. Identifying and understanding these is the first step in successfully preparing to "go prospecting," Block believes, as you can't sell customers on your firm being the best, unless you know what the competition has to offer, and can counter that.
Next, dealers need to get out there and make contacts, Block notes. When it comes to prospecting new clients, the main business channel should be the firm's past customers, he believes, as these can provide a wealth of contacts for future jobs.
To reach these customers and use them as a source for new business, he suggests hosting an open house for past and prospective customers, offering a gift or dinner for referrals, sponsoring a house tour of past customers' homes for new prospects (with refreshments included), and contacting surrounding neighbors during a project to inform them of truck and trash procedures something he sees as "a great opening for further conversation."
With regard to new channels worth exploring, Block offered the following possibilities:
- Interior designers. Designers can be contacted through various means, including professional groups such as ASID, IIDA, etc. In addition, the kitchen and bath dealer can throw an open house for trade professionals, where a brief demonstration about the company can be the main event.
- Architects. Locating and working with architects can become an important part of new business, if the right approach is taken. Block recommends checking for names on blueprints, as well as investigating professional groups such as AIA.
- Builders. In looking for builders to work with, it's important to be observant and look for new building starts in the area. Make suggestions about model home packages, and be consistent with follow up calls, Block advises. Again, check into professional associations such as NAHB.
- Remodelers. While some may view remodelers as "the competition," it's important to note that they need to buy their products somewhere. "Why shouldn't it be from you?" Block asks. He suggests looking for remodelers through professional groups such as NARI.
Kitchen and bath dealers might also try to make contacts through the listings in the Yellow Pages, or by employing other channels, such as service clubs, civic groups, church groups, design schools, home owner associations, appliance dealers, showhouses, mall shows, banks, realtors, golf/social clubs, furniture stores and lumber yards. Manufacturer and distributor leads are also a good source for new contacts, Block notes
When making a connection through an association or organization, it's important to attend meetings and do some networking, Block advises. The most important element, stresses Block, is to leave the showroom and get out there.