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The New Basics: A Recap

By Dave Schenk H-P Products Inc.

It's hard to believe 2013 is already coming to a close. The majority of my columns this year touched on the new basics of business and how things are changing. As the year wraps up, many dealers are thinking about how they can better their business. Andrew from Charlotte writes, "Dave, we are planning for the New Year and would like to incorporate some of the new basics. Could you provide a recap of the new basics?"

This is a great time to plan for the coming year and incorporating some of the new basics can help your business be more successful. Here is the new basics recap.

How to Reach the Changing Customer
Today, the majority of consumers go to the Internet before they visit your store or buy from you. They use the Internet for basic information about products, to check reviews and to compare prices. It's important to have a website full of information such as how your products will help the customer, articles you've been featured in, demonstration videos and testimonials from existing customers.

You can also reach new customers through a Google AdWords program. Investing in this can put your selling message in front of local prospects searching for the products you sell. For more information on Google AdWords, or to set up your own program, visit www.adwords.google.com.

Relationships with OEMs
A key manufacturer should provide more than just products for you to sell. The company should offer marketing support, training support, innovative product support, quality products, on-time delivery and a partnership attitude. Whether you're currently working with a key manufacturer or trying to decide if you want to work with another one, it's important to figure out if they will fully support you.

Selling the Value of Your Business
When people first start a small business, they usually do everything by the book. Unfortunately as time passes, many business owners get away from the basics of customer service. If you feel you've fallen into this rut, it's time to ramp up the way your business operates. Simple tasks such as making sure phones are being answered correctly, creating an inviting, well-kept showroom and treating customers with respect can make a positive impact on sales. Today, people can go anywhere to buy central vacs, it's your responsibility to sell the value of buying from you.

New Marketing Tools
It's important to know where customers are spending their time and what interests them. Just because there are new marketing tools out there, doesn't mean you need to abandon the traditional tactics. The best approach is to come up with an integrated plan. Your plan should include some traditional methods such as direct mail, vehicle wraps and radio ads, but it should also include digital components. Some of these tools include YouTube, e-mails, an updated website, Google Places and Angie's List. Research these new marketing tools and find out if they're right for your business.

How to Compete
As big box stores and random online retailers keep popping up, you may feel hard-pressed to compete. Rather than getting discouraged about big box competitors, use them as an opportunity to make your business look better. Make customers feel like they are more than just another customer and that they are buying more than just a central vacuum. Share your expertise and knowledge about the products you're selling. Really listen to the customers' needs rather than just trying to make the sale.

How to Ensure Customer Satisfaction
Doing the following can ensure customer satisfaction:

  • Make a good first impression whether it be when a customer calls or visits you
  • Be on time for an installation or service call
  • Employ and train people who are eager to learn about the products you sell
  • After a sale, follow up with a thank you card for their purchase and inform them of any new products or promotions
  • Reward your customers with a small gift to show them you value their business

To Andrew and the rest of you, best of luck in the New Year. I hope you're able to incorporate the new basics into your plan. Please keep those central vacuum sales, marketing, installation and business management questions coming in 2014!

Dave Schenk is OEM Products Manager for H-P Products and a 37-year veteran of the vacuum industry. If you have questions, concerns or tips that you'd like to see addressed in future columns, send them to Dave Schenk, H-P Products, Inc., 512 Gorgas St., Louisville, OH 44641; phone 888-292-4407 x2280; e-mail to dschenk@h-pproducts.com.

© 2013 H-P Products, Inc. All articles are property of H-P Products, Inc. and cannot be copied or reproduced without prior written consent of the copyright owner.

Reprinted from Floor Care & Central Vac Professional, December 2013