“A business absolutely devoted to service will have one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.”
The two most important aims for running a good business are to reinvest in your business for greater efficiency and to build great relationships with clients. It’s always better to leave a job with happy clientele than it is to finish a job as soon as possible. Part of serving the client is investing in your business to make it better. When you spend money on your kitchen and bath business during an economic boom, it will give you a competitive edge over the competition during the lean times.
Make investments in greater efficiency when you have the money
We know your business is booming, and while saving your hard earned dollars is a smart business practice for emergency, rainy day purposes, the SEN Leadership Team also thinks a good portion of your profits should be invested back into your business during a peak. While it’s easy to see the benefits of good money practices when business is booming, there’s far less time to be making such decisions, so it’s easy to put them off.
Whether you’re overloaded by meeting with new clients or completing existing jobs, the daily grind of being “too busy” is a thousand times more exhausting than it is when business is average, or just plain slow. Somewhere within those hectic days, you must make time to put money back into your business.
Owners should never be “too busy” to invest back into their business. Think of investing in your business as the fuel for driving your brand forward, and pulling in future leads from the clientele you want. Ultimately, a well-marketed business will produce jobs more efficiently and generate more profitability.
Making time when you are too busy
Boom times are those when you have the opportunity and money to make investments. Time must be carved out of your schedule, so you’ll need to work extra hard to find it. Find two late nights out of a week — or leverage a long weekend — for doing the research and planning. Then hold a company meeting or two for debating and weighing the best options with your team.
When you invest during the boom times, you’re buying market share for the down times. Many companies don’t bother to pay attention to such details; they plan to make investments when business is slower. Consider, however, that both tactics can serve as good business practices.
Think about it.
Investing in your company is difficult during an economic downturn. However, studies show that investing in your business and in marketing during down times is smart and gives your business a distinct advantage over competitors who may be cutting their marketing budgets during those times. Investing in your business is important because consistency is important. Keeping your business in the public eye and top-of-mind on a consistent basis always wins vs. stop-and-start marketing and investment. And this is why those companies who keep marketing during the down times have a huge advantage over those who stop investing in their business at that time. It takes years (if ever) to recover from the lack of investment and consistency during that time. When business is slow, everybody has time to invest, but most don’t have the money to! Any extra profit they made during the boom times may well have gone into buying a bigger house or a nicer car. By making marketing investments in your business now and setting aside enough cash to keep them consistent during less fruitful times, you will earn a substantial edge over your competition during the lean months.
During the boom times, it is easy to be too busy to make time to invest in your business. Times are good. Do we even need to invest more in the business when we are so busy and profitable? Yes! You must take the time to invest in the business. It’s even more important during boom times to make the effort to invest back in your business. Do not take this time for granted! Consistency being the key point, it is equally important to invest during economic boom times as it is to invest in your business during down times. However, because it is easy to prioritize other tasks when you are busy, you must find a way to make the time, no matter how busy you are.
Where you should be investing
Take stock of your enterprise. SEN recommends developing a 3-year annual budget because owners gain visibility, direction, and maneuverability. Where is the money going and what do you want it to do for you? Where can your business be strategically improved the most?
Maybe your website is outdated and begs to be redesigned. Despite serving as a virtual showroom, sadly most websites in the kitchen and bath industry are just that: sorely outdated. Your website should not merely be filled with good, current content, but be modern and good-looking, and designed by a pro that will generate traffic to your website. It should inspire a sense of leadership in the industry to prospective clients.
If you want a higher inflow of traffic to your site, it’s time to start posting high-quality, industry specific content of 1,760-2,400 words in length, weaving in keywords for higher Google rankings, and publish them weekly.
Consider hiring a ghostwriter to write your website content and save your team 15-20 hours a week! You can have high-grade, industry-specific content written by a professional writer for a fraction of your marketing budget, and your firm will be able to use those precious hours more efficiently.
You can also innovate for your business by using DesignAlign’s Good-Better-Best [GBB] selling platform. GBB interactive budgeting fits any-sized wallet by generating three transparent estimates for your prospects within an 8% margin of error. By reducing what used to take 8-10 hours to come up with a viable estimate over a period of weeks, to a mere 30-45 minutes during the very first meeting, it saves you a ton of time finding out whether you have a qualified prospect or not.
Build your business relationships and great portfolio additions will follow
You’re so busy you can literally choose the clients you do jobs for. There’s a good reason to not take every job you’re offered. Some clients are too demanding. You know the type. They don’t seem happy with any of the options you give them, or they probably won’t like how the product looks as soon as it’s installed. Their questions aren’t ever answered fast enough, no one on your staff does anything right, and they hate surprises that do not offer instant gratification. In short: nothing satisfies them.
Bonding is certainly a pivotal part of a remodeling project, so respect should be a two way street. Prospects chose your firm to design their kitchen – you should like your clients!
Note the personalities of your prospective clients. Does talking to them suggest they’d be difficult to work with? Then ask yourself: is doing a job for them worth it? Trust your instincts. Will the gross profit be worth the extra hand-holding and do-overs required for their job?
When the client’s needs are met, the designer’s needs are met. If you perceive you won’t satisfy a prospect’s wishes, you’re probably right. In that case, your needs won’t be met. Imagine working with this person almost daily for the 1-2 months you’re installing their kitchen. Do you envision it being a positive experience for both parties? It’s okay to pass on business if you feel a job will not be worth the task, or if your firm does not truly offer what a client is looking for.
Your clients are future critics of your company. Building great relationships with them is investing in your company’s success. When a client’s positive experience is the top priority, you have assurance that the client is much more likely to be agreeable to potential hang-ups that may arise during a job.
While a prospect is choosing their options for a project, be flexible and establish wiggle room to make it easier for them. Maybe they want to spend a little bit more because they’ve fallen in love with a product they hadn’t previously considered. Or perhaps something happened to their finances and they need to spend less than they had originally decided to invest. Be prepared for frequent client decision changes. When greeting them in follow-up meetings, ask: “Has anything changed since we last talked?”
Business comes and goes. When you pass on one job, another will come. Choosing the right client is a part of investing in your business. You’ll thank yourself for avoiding high maintenance, never-satisfied clients when you score that next deal right around the corner with someone who’s easy to work with. When you work with the right clients, their testimonials will be golden.
The right timing wins the job
When you’re on time for all your appointments, prospects gain confidence that their project with your firm will be finished on time. It may also blunt the negative impact of extended lead times. If a cabinet manufacturer changes their delivery time from 6-8 weeks, to 12-14 weeks (as has been done of late by some due to the pandemic), it can create stress for dealers when they need to explain start delays to their clients. Be a step ahead of the client’s concerns by telling them upfront about any delays or changes.
Furthermore, being on time shows the prospect that quality is Job #1 in your firm. It’s a sure indicator to them that your work will be top notch, and an easy way to build a client’s trust in you.
With all the time and energy it takes in designing, ordering, and installing a kitchen or bath project, your interactions with the client truly result in a bonding experience that is much more than just a business transaction.
Eliminating the competition with good-better-best selling
Most prospects will get multiple bids before choosing a firm to do the job. In order for these bids to be valuable to them, they will no doubt want to contain the same criteria for each bidder. Don’t play their game: don’t bid on projects! Let them shop within your company for multiple project budget ranges using GBB.
Be sure to give prospective clients multiple price options to choose from. People want to know what’s available, and they want to know the reasons for the price differences. Buyers understand that certain wood species — like walnut — cost more than others, or that imported marble is more expensive than domestic. But they may not be familiar with the reasons some manufacturers charge more than others, or why installation costs vary. With GBB selling, the buyer sees everything in the price breakdown at all times.
With DesignAlign’s GBB selling system, there will be no surprises when the project is ultimately designed and precisely estimated after the retainer is secured. A $60,000 budget will definitely come in between $56,000 and $65,000.
Regardless of the variety of products you carry, and the services you offer, the pricing differentials should always be upfront and clear to the buyer. Structure and present your “in-house bids” for easy side-by-side comparisons of the products your prospect is interested in.
Consumers love pricing transparency and are moved to do business with firms that make it easy for them to make these important incremental buying decisions.
The upcoming SEN 4-Day Online Business School is happening April 13-16. This eye-opening instruction, not available from any other industry resource, will deliver the financial grounding owners must have to develop their businesses into genuine engines for wealth. Within the four day school, you’ll learn how to leverage DesignAlign, which has proven to boost the sales of businesses who use it by up to 100%. Register today for the upcoming Business School.
—The SEN Leadership Team