Do Your Retail Sales Associates Close in the Home?

“Strike while the iron is hot”, “Get it while the gettin’ is good”, and “When opportunity knocks, answer the door”.  Quotes we all know illustrating the importance of making things happen when we have the chance.  These words ring true when it comes to persuading a flooring customer that the products you are presenting, at the price you quote, is such a great value that saying “no” is a terrible choice.  And is there a better time to do this than when you have just completed the measure and created the quote in their environment?  This is when they are the most excited about how beautiful the new flooring will look.   That will be seizing the moment, making the most of your opportunity, and squashing indecision before it creeps in. 

Many will argue that measuring is an art and cannot be rushed and point to the saying that the “Devil is in the details”.  For the most part I agree but I have always been amazed by how true shop at home companies such as Empire and Luna are so successful when their sales associates are taught to take length times width and multiply by 110%.   Will this work all of the time?  Of course not.  But with straight forward, standard carpet, laminate, vinyl, LVT, VCT, wood, and ceramic jobs this should suffice.  Now when it comes to intricate bathrooms, kitchens, patterns, borders, accents, warmers, and backsplashes, trying to create an estimate while sipping some coffee at the customers dining room table could be a costly mistake.  But I could argue that making the customer wait 24 to 48 hours for the sales associate to return to the store, create a quote, and hopefully call the customer before he/she calls them, could cost even more in lost business.  We all know many people buy on impulse and 2 days later much of that air has left the balloon. 

The great thing is that according to a substantiated survey conducted by Benchmarkinc in which several hundred flooring owners participated over a three year period ending 2013 both arguments hold a lot of water and the practice of closing in the house is now quantifiable.  Independent flooring stores that have their sales associates close in the home versus those who did not have their sales associates close in home experienced:

  • $398,966 more in annual net sales
  • $182 higher average ticket
  • Owners earned $13,856 more in annual wages
  • Close rates were 62%

Simple conclusion; those who do have their sales associates close in the house are crazy.  Not so fast!  Now for the other side of the coin.   For those who had their sales associate close in the home the gross profit was nearly 1 point lower.  That could mean that rushing through the measure, winging the quote, or with the pressure to quickly deliver a number, led to a more than usual number of mistakes and therefore created a reduction in gross profit.  See both arguments are statistically correct, right?  Now for the last piece of financial information, the net income for the stores that had sales associates close in the home was .63% greater meaning that the benefits outweighed the negative effect on the gross profit.  

 

For those who are still leery of having sales associates close in the home because of the mistakes, there are some options for reducing mistakes.  Measuring and estimating software has come a long way in the last decade and so have the laser devices.  A Leica DISTO laser, according to their specifications, is accurate to 1/16 of an inch.  These devices in the past could cost an arm and a leg, but you can find a base model that is Bluetooth enabled for less than $150.  Purchasing a Bluetooth enabled laser and measuring software such as RFMS Measure or FloorRight by Pacific Solutions will enable you to measure the room with a laser and it will draw it to scale in the software.  Even better that software will allow a sales associate to create an accurate estimate onsite and reduce heartburn for the owner. 

Now that we have taken care of the technology issue there is the human element to address.   Closing in the home requires a delicate balance of persuasion while at the same time not coming across as pushy.  Assuming your sales associates have that skill could be a mistake.  It is highly recommended that if you decide to adopt the closing in the home strategy that a lot of roleplaying is conducted with the sales team to prepare them on how to present a quote, handle objections, and ask for the close.   Once they get this down let them loose and reap the benefits of a higher close rate and average ticket.   Some may be afraid, at first, of the technology but the chance for a higher income for both the sales associates and owners should greatly outweigh that fear.