“Your job isn’t to get people to buy stuff; your job is to matter to them. You need your customer to believe in what you do. To ‘buy into’ what you are about. Your business can help customers express themselves. Your brand can become part of their story. You can shape culture, communicate beauty; stimulate thought, and inspire action. You don’t have to be in business just to sell a pile of stuff,” writes Bernadette Jiwa in her fascinating book, The Fortune Cookie Principle.”
Four years ago, Nieman Marcus was working its way out of bankruptcy. The first quarter of 2022 was brutal for many retailers. The Conference Board found that 70% of CEOs believe the U.S. is headed for a recession. Interest rates are rising. Consumer confidence is plummeting. Nieman Marcus is thriving. Why? One reason is increased demand among upper-crust consumers. Sheltering in place prevented luxury consumers from purchasing products and services for nearly two years. Luxury products, similar to most kitchens and baths, are not typically purchased online. Luxury consumers expect elevated levels of service and interaction.
How many times have you told your team to work smarter not harder? That’s easy to say, but more difficult to execute. As owners and leaders of companies, helping your team to avoid working on things that don’t make a material difference but consume oodles of time, can be transformative. To help team members focus on goals, consider establishing timelines for each stage of a project after the contract is signed, with estimated hours for each project milestone and tracking time spent for specific tasks. If a designer is spending too much time on the wrong thing, it can have a domino effect on the entire project.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that Americans have the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What exactly is happiness and how do you pursue it in a world dominated by video calls, deadlines, supply chain shortcomings, and human frailty, and disappointment? A key might be to develop a more meaningful definition of happiness that may not include professional and material accomplishments, because the feelings that come from those accomplishments tend to be fleeting. That’s one reason why highly successful people with almost unlimited financial resources might not be happy.
Who sells products in your showroom? Duh, it’s the salespeople – right? Not always. In today’s 24-7-365-connected world where 99% of the population does not buy socks without searching Google first, your best salespeople may be your happy clients and customers. Increasingly, all businesses are capitalizing on customers whose expectations were exceeded to be spokespeople. There are a myriad of options available to capture this critical market and make your raving fans an important component of your marketing effort.
Unemployment in the U.S. remains at historic lows. Finding new team members remains a top challenge for most BKBG showrooms. A lasting side effect of COVID 19 has been the great shuffling and the changing dynamic in the way many Americans view work. In the past, job jumping was considered a negative. The more someone changed positions and employers, the less attractive they become as a potential new team member. Given the cost and time that it takes to onboard, train and acclimate a team member to your processes and culture, can you really afford to hire someone whose timeline with your showroom is less than a year? That’s likely a possibility. In a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. employees who have been in their role for less than six months more than 50% reported they were actively looking for new opportunities. Similarly, 52% of employees who had been with their employer for less than three months were seeking greener pastures.
How often should you email customers and prospects? That depends on the goals you want to achieve from an email campaign. A goal might be to drive traffic to a blog. If you don’t have time or the inclination to blog, that’s not a problem. BKBG produces a weekly blog (see below) that is easily customized to use as your own. Shareholders that use the BKBG blog receive an average of more than 1,200 views per week.
There’s an old curse: May you live in interesting times. The last couple of years have been interesting to say the least. Dealing with COVID, unprecedented demand for products and services, supply chain challenges, multiple price increases, and on and on. While many BKBG Shareholders reported record years in 2021, not many would like a repeat in 2022. “Too much scar tissue,” is a common reason why. And when you are running at 1000 miles an hour, it’s not difficult to lose your cool. Most people try to repress their anger in the showroom, but that’s not necessarily a good thing, claims author David Kessler who writes “anger is pain’s bodyguard.”
We all have had bad customer experiences. According to Hug Your Customers author Jack Mitchell, a mistake or customer service shortcoming is an opportunity to surprise and delight customers, because so few companies care about turning an error into a hug. Mitchell defined any act of customer kindness as a hug. When errors occur, does your showroom create hugs or send your customers packing. A few things to consider, courtesy of Rick Houcek’s 2-Minute Monday Motivator, to create hugs.
If you asked most showrooms what their biggest challenge is, personnel is the answer almost all of the time. A record-breaking 4.53 million American workers quit their jobs in March of 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and unemployment hovers at historically low numbers of about 3.5%. How can you attract and retain talent that is the best match for your team and your culture? Know the right questions to ask when you interview prospective employees, explains University of Pennsylvania Professor and author of Originals Adam Grant.