Selling Maintenance/Cleaning Supplies With Every Transaction

I was inspired to write this article because of a conversation I had with a long-time client last week.    We recruited a retail sales associate for his flooring company in Arizona a couple of weeks prior and I was asking how the new hire was performing.  A member of our recruiting staff told me the person we hired came from Bed, Bath and Beyond and had no previous flooring experience so I was curious as to how he was working out.  I was certain that the new hire was in good hands because this particular client does a spectacular job training new hires.  His policy is that they must complete eight weeks of training before they are allowed to sell a single customer on the sales floor.  

When answering my inquiry, his reply went something like this; “Let me tell you about this guy”, “You won’t believe what he did the first couple of days he started”.  This is right about the time I held my breath because our recruiting policy is that if the person hired gets fired we have to provide a replacement at no cost.  Having to do that is both very costly for Benchmarkinc and is quite frustrating for the recruiting team.  “This guys is so awesome that he went up to a customer that just purchased a laminate floor from another sales associate and sold them a floor cleaning kit”.  “He knew nothing about flooring but he certainly knew how to sell cleaning supplies”.  This is where I exhaled and a little smirk formed on my face. My client attributed this practice to the sales associates previous experience at Bed, Bath and Beyond and I attribute it to just common sense.

I was puzzled as to why he was so surprised and enamored with something that should be automatic and he was fully aware as to the effect on his bottom line.  He is a long-term client and one of the perks of working with us is we pester you over and over with information and provide constant reminders to follow best practices.  He admitted he knew the benefits and remembered the study we did on selling cleaning supplies with every transaction.  He was honest enough to say that getting his veteran sales associates to adopt this philosophy was quite a challenge and sort of threw in the towel in making this philosophy a reality. 

The concept of selling cleaning supplies is very straightforward.  Regardless of the type of flooring purchased every transaction should include a six-month supply of maintenance/cleaning products.  Each transaction may seem small at the time but when you add the sales for all transactions the cumulative effect can be quite substantial.  According to a survey conducted by Benchmarkinc in which several hundred flooring owners participated over a three-year period ending 2013 independent flooring stores that have their sales associates sell maintenance supplies with every transaction experience:

  • Owners that earn just over $27,000 more per year
  • Net Income that is 25% higher
  • Gross profit that is 2.3 points higher
  • An average transaction that is $407 greater

In retail there are a few techniques related to closing:  indirect, direct, and assumptive.  When it comes to selling cleaning supplies lets focus on the assumptive closing style.  One must assume that someone is going to have to clean their floors and is in need of the right products to do the proper job and not cause harm to the surface purchased.  Automatically adding the manufacturer recommended products to the order, without asking permission, would be an example of an assumptive close. 

To be very clear an assumptive close does not include deception.   In order to pull this off, without upsetting customers, it should be a line item on the quote and fully explained to the customer at time of closing.  The sales associate should go over the warranty information highlighting that if the flooring purchased is damaged due to improper cleaning that the customer is at risk of voiding the warranty.  If after the explanation the customer objects to purchasing the cleaning/maintenance supplies, the sales associate must remove that line from the quote.  

Your sales associates should be the expert and direct the customer as to what is the right way to maintain their flooring purchase.  Asking the customer if they want to, or thinking they will purchase manufacturer recommend cleaning supplies on their own is a bit delusional.   And you are leaving a lot of money on the table.  Let’s do the math:  $200 in a 6-month supply or cleaning products per transaction at a 50% margin is $100 in profit dollars.  Now let’s multiply that by 500 transactions and you rack up $50,000 in pure profit.   Much more than our client paid us for recruiting someone who now needs to show the rest of the team the right way to sell maintenance supplies on every transaction so everyone wins.