Retailer Corner: Slowing Down to Go Faster

By Tom Jennings, WFCA, VP Member Services


While casually watching a car race recently, I heard three-time NASCAR champion Daryl Waltrip make the statement that “sometimes you have to slow down in order to go faster.” He was referencing the fact that if you carry too much speed into a turn, you risk losing momentum going into the next straightaway. This results in going at a frantic pace, then slamming on the brakes to turn, then going like crazy again to regain the fast pace. A tired car and race driver are seldom a winning combination. To maintain the greatest overall performance, you need to drive the entire track as fast as possible while remaining under control.

What does this have to do with the flooring business you ask? I feel in running a successful operation, the goal is also to accomplish the entire sales-to-service aspects of a flooring purchase under control. Just as there are four turns on an oval race track, there are four critical areas of a completed flooring sale and installation when it is critical to slow down so that you can go faster.

Turn one: sales to jobsite assessment. Whether the salesperson measures their own jobs, or assigns this task to others, it’s critical that when at the jobsite you know exactly what you are being asked to do. Never confuse a measurement with a site assessment. Measuring is simply doing the math to arrive at the quantities required. This is a component of the complete task. You must be able to evaluate and tailor the desired product’s finished application depending on a variety of existing conditions at the home or office. Faulty or missing information may cause the job to be estimated incorrectly, causing delays (slamming on the brakes).

Turn two: jobsite assessment to ordering. When the job has been correctly assessed and sold, there is a great chance that materials will be ordered correctly and the job will proceed as planned. When the required items and quantities are ordered inaccurately, the job will again stall causing you to lose momentum going into the next turn.

Turn three: ordering to installation. Regardless of the capabilities of your installer, they can only be as good as the information and materials that you provide. When these items are complete and correct, no momentum will be lost. If not, you will again be slamming on the brakes heading into the homestretch.

Turn four: installation to sales. This is the turn where the racer often gets in too great of a hurry and hits the wall. They can see the finish line and can lose their focus. The same thing can happen in retail, as well. We all recognize that our best customers are cultivated through repeat and referral business. Unfortunately, this is the area where communication is most lacking at many companies. Was the job completed satisfactorily? Was it finished on time? Did anything occur during the installation that the in-store staff should know about? Were any promises made by the installer that the store should be aware of?

These are among the answers that every salesperson needs to know before contacting the customer for a post-installation follow up. Without it, there is a likelihood they will procrastinate making contact, losing the opportunity to build on a good relationship. It is critical that the installer report back to the appropriate person at the end of each job. Only then can the salesperson, and the business as a whole, maintain full momentum across the finish line to successfully complete this lap (individual sale) and proceed with speed into the next one.

When you are completing each turn during the sale, make sure that you slow down and get it right the first time to keep the momentum going forward. Just as in racing, good flooring teams know that to win the race you need to spend as little time as possible in the pits.

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