Where Do Your Customers Build Their Brands? There is Social Gold There.

We have heard it a thousand times, marketing is now a DIALOGUE. No longer is marketing simply post and pray.  When we post to our websites, to Facebook, Instagram et al, we can see how many visit, who they are and which of our products and stories they like.  This information helps us better understand both our new and loyal clients so we may reach out to them effectively.  Terrific!  But that is only a small part of the dialogue.  There are other interactions going on that we are ignoring that are loaded with leads.

Your customers, be they trade businesses or homeowners, are also on social media and posting like crazy.  They are proudly sharing their work and their unique insights into what looks they like.  Plus each of those good customers are being followed by many similar people with similar tastes.  Social media is a treasure trove of information about your customers and future customers just waiting to be mined.  It is all interconnected like a web, a world wide web.

This can be very good information for your businesses but farming it requires hard work.  Most salespeople love getting the order and marketers enjoy creating stimulating content but slogging through your top accounts to better understand them and discover new leads requires a lot of screen time, meticulous note taking and planning detailed meetings to share the information and devise your strategies.

“We have never done any marketing for the bag — people post their own pictures, and we repost. It means a lot to us, the way people post the bag, and for us to see who our customer is,” Telfar Clemens from Vogue Business article How young designers create powerful brand identities  by Kati Chitrakorn

Are you willing to dig in?

Step one is to note which social media platforms your top accounts are active on.  Note these locations to their account information in your CRM database.  Now simply flip through their individual feeds noting what styles they tend to post, what hobbies do they partake and what projects have they done and what they are now working on.  And, if you are not following them, start by liking and commenting on their posts.  Let them know you are paying attention to their world and supporting them.  You need to be consistent; do not review, like and comment on their feeds for a week and then go away for months.  You will lose all the goodwill you had won.  Set a plan to review and interact with their feed once at least once a month.   

Step two is simple: go back through the feeds and note all who comment and like your clients’ postings.  Once you have the list, look at their social media posts and their business websites.  If they look to be a good fit for your business, follow them on social media, learn a bit about what styles they prefer and add them to your sales target list.  Also add them to your planned list of social media sites to interact with monthly.  I do not suggest you take the information and blindly add them to your customer email list.  If they are doing good work follow them and like and comment when appropriate.  Through your likes and posts make sure they know who you are and what you do, subtly.

Two things are important to remember.  There are very good customer opportunities that are right under your nose that you do not know about.   Secondly, the World Wide Web is used by most businesses and people in the capitalist world today and still offers a tremendous amount of information if we are willing to put the time in to mine it respectfully.

Do not continue to heave good money looking for new customers when some wonderful opportunities are probably posting on social media and talking with your good accounts. 

P.S. You can also look to see who is following your competitors.  I would bet they have some very good accounts that you do not work with.

A version of this article previously appeared in the July issue of Supply House Times.

Image created by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Are You Ready to Add Talkies to Your Product Pages?

Lately vendors and showrooms have been speeding around gathering as many images as we can for our websites. Quality is not really a factor, as any image is better than having the customer search for a specific item and see “No Image Available.”

Your customers hate it, you hate it, and most of all, Google ignores it. So, you chase any image you can and make the product web page complete. Voila, all are now happy. My page looks every bit as good as Amazon and my competition. Congratulations, you have leveled the playing field. Job well done.

Now what is next? I suggest it is time to add videos.

As a product description without an image is a shallow story, a product image and description without a complimenting video is passé. 

SnapChat videos and Instagram stories are grabbing people’s primary attention and TikTok’s unique users have almost doubled in the last six months[1]. All are adding simple click to buy capabilities. Video is now the norm and we all have new work to do.

Take a moment to see how the world wide web has changed during the last few years. Amazon’s go-to-market strategy of selling everything possible and delivering it to you as fast as they are able is an amazing feat. Google’s algorithm promotes websites that continually offer new products that are supported by best in class content. 

These two companies have dictated how we build our individual websites. We mimic Amazon’s product page and enter all the data that Google is searching for. If it works for Amazon, let’s do it. If this is what Google is looking for, let’s give it to them. And with all that hard work, we all look the same. The Internet is a huge place full of potential and to succeed in winning a luxury market we need to be unique. Frustrated? Yep! Confused? I found this roundup from a16z quite helpful in better understanding what is working. 

Imagine a client is looking for a specific product. They visit several websites and find similar product pages. The product looks the same on each site. The descriptions are similar, and the pricing and delivery times are comparable. Take a moment and search for a product you sell and see what you find. 

What can a vendor or distributor do to break this tie? Add short, focused video stories to each product page. Each product does not require an individual video. Just a quick story of the many things that make your brand unique.

Start by making ten 15 to 30 second videos that celebrate what your brand does well and what makes you unique. Then take these videos and partner them with products on your website product pages. These videos will also play nicely on Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat. Distributors and vendors can share them to tell why they work together and expand each other’s video libraries. 

Do not overthink or overdo these videos. Yes, you can bring in a crack crew with a talented director and spend a lot of money to create fine contact. You can also enlist your team to tell honest, authentic stories about your products, about your service and about your strong brand history. These can be recorded on a smartphone. 

While the big companies are taking the time to plan each step, you can have 10 videos ready to go live in weeks. Then 20 in a few more weeks. Once you learn how to do this, you will be surprised how easy they are to craft and how effective they will be. Simple stories about styles you love, customer service stories you are proud to share and quick chats with clients. 

The Internet has grown past text and images and is asking you for video stories about who you are. I think you know the script. It’s all in your head.

[1] Emarketer, US Consumers Are Flocking to TikTok

Your Business is Decades Successful… BUT, Does Your Target Market Really Know You Exist?

Working at a store that had opened when Henry Ford was 19 years old, I assumed that everyone in town knew that we sold luxury plumbing and hardware. Boy was I wrong. Even those driving fine automobiles, at gallery walks, and on historic home tours would consistently asked me, “What do you sell there?” Talk about a walkup call!

For centuries, good word of mouth has built many strong brands and it is still the finest marketing tool known to capitalism. It is simple: do your job well, sell the finest products and support your clients. If all is done to luxury standards, these happy clients will talk to their friends and show off your company’s good work. But in 2020, the year of the pandemic, things have changed? 

No matter how well we were doing before COVID-19 hit, and how proud we are to have withstood 2008’s nasty recession, there are still plenty of well-to-do customers who have never experienced your fine brand. Time works well in a storyline, is an easy marketing tool but if people in your target market have not sampled your brand nor heard of it from a friend all that history is simply blowin’ in the wind.

From a tactical point of view, if there are potential customers that you are not reaching, eventually another competitor will find them and enter your market. Once established, that new competitor will also offer your good customers an viable alternate. It all goes back to the old story; when you are number 1, you have to constantly work hard and be smart to remain there.

Now, with COVID-19 affecting your business, you are focused on getting all the business you can remotely while trying to grasp what’s coming next. Everyday tasks and issues, along with these new concerns, pack your endless days. There is just not enough time to plan and market your story to potential clients. Especially today, with all the print, television, digital and social media options, who knows where to start? 

In the small business world this is a loud call to find help. No one can do it all, and for your business to continue to grow it is time to reach out to marketing professionals. In this digital age, it is not difficult for a brands to reach outside of their geographic market to try to capture a few new clients. Instagram, Facebook and Google have no boundaries, they promote who pays the most and companies that share the best content.

Even if you have been in business since the horse and buggy days, you still need to get the word out. No one really needs luxury products. Do you want to leave the door open, allowing other stores, brick and mortar and e-commerce and avenue to reach into the market you built? That is not a risk I am willing to take. You have built a successful brand, why not share your story with your entire target market to remind and educate them on how good you really are?

I know it is difficult to admit you cannot do it all and that you really do not completely understand our quickly changing algorithm-run world. Nor do you want to continually work and study to remain digitally up to date. But there is no excuse for letting the wonderful opportunities those algorithms create slip to a competitor. Showroom owners must find time to meet and work with people that are deeply knowledgeable about these fantabulous marketing tools and are committed to remaining up to date with the rapid changes and new avenues being created. 

There are many individuals and agencies that offer the talent to help you reach your targeted audience with your compelling story. This is not something to ignore or leave to a team member simply because they are Gen-Z and use social media a lot. Cash is tight and we have zero idea of what the future will be but, intelligently investing in your brand is a good opportunity. I suggest finding a professional, paying a professional and reaping the benefits from a professional. Then you will be ready to roar when people are looking for the best partners to make their home luxurious. 

Related Reading: From Business of Home, Decorators Best dragged fabric makers online. Now the site is their biggest customer

A version of this posting appeared in the April 9, 2020 version of DPHA Connections.

Does Your Target Market Really Know You Exist?

Working at a store that had opened when Henry Ford was 19 years old, I assumed that everyone in town knew that we sold fine plumbing and hardware.  Boy was I wrong. Even those driving fine automobiles, at gallery walks, and on historic home tours would consistently ask me, “What do you sell there?”  This brings three points front and center; the products we sell are mostly purchased by building and trade professionals, are only purchased a few times in a homeowner’s lifetime, and the DPH industry does not market outside its core customer base very well.  

For centuries, good word of mouth has built many strong brands and it is still the finest marketing tool known to capitalism.  It is simple: do your job well, sell the finest products and support your clients. If all is done to luxury standards, these happy clients will talk to their friends and show off your company’s good work.  But in 2020, the year of the pandemic, is that enough?  

No matter how well we were doing before CV-19 hit, and how proud we are to have withstood 2008’s nasty recession, there are still plenty of well-to-do customers who have never experienced a beautiful entryway with the solid feeling of a mortise lock.  Nor have they enjoyed a well-choreographed DPH designed bathroom. Even if they notice one while visiting a friend or enjoy one at a fine hotel, they do not truly understand the beauty and spa-like amenities until one become part of their own lifestyle.  

From a tactical point of view, if there are potential customers that you are not reaching, eventually another competitor will find them and enter your market.  Once established, that new DPH competitor will also offer your good customers an alternate go-to for DPH products. It all goes back to the old story, if you are number 1, you have to constantly work hard and be smart to remain #1.

Now, with CV-19 affecting your business, you are focused on getting all the business you can remotely while trying to grasp what’s coming next.  Everyday tasks and issues, along with these new concerns, pack your endless days. There is just not enough time to plan and market your story to potential clients. Especially today, with all the print, television, digital and social media options, who knows where to start?  

In my world this is a loud call to find help.  No one can do it all, and for your business to continue to grow it is time to reach out to marketing professionals.  In this digital age, it is not difficult for a DPH company to reach outside of their market to try to capture a few new clients within your market.  Instagram, Facebook and Google have no boundaries, they reach out to whom they are paid to find.

Even if you have been in business since the horse and buggy days, you still need to get the word out.  No one really needs what we offer, but their homes are so much better when we have finished.  Do you want to leave the door open, allowing other showrooms to reach into the market you built?  That is not a risk I would like to take. You have built a successful brand, why not share your story with your entire target market to educate them on how good you really are?

I know it is difficult to admit you cannot do it all and that you really do not completely understand our quickly changing algorithm-run world.  Nor do you want to continually work and study to remain digitally up to date. But there is no excuse for letting the wonderful opportunities those algorithms create slip to a competitor.  Showroom owners must find time to meet and work with people that are deeply knowledgeable about these fantabulous marketing tools and are committed to remaining up to date with the rapid changes and new avenues being created.  

There are many individuals and agencies that offer the talent to help you reach your targeted audience with your compelling story, including some DPHA professional members.  This is not something to ignore or leave to a team member simply because they are Gen-Z and use social media a lot. We have zero idea of what the future will be but, intelligently investing in your brand is a good opportunity. I suggest finding a professional, paying a professional and reaping the benefits from a professional. Then you will be ready to roar when people are looking for the best partners to make their home luxurious. 

Related Reading:

From Business of Home, 

Decorators Best dragged fabric makers online. Now the site is their biggest customer

Photo by Leonardo Gonzalez from Pexels

How To Leverage Your Brick and Mortar Brand Online

Okay, we all are cooped up at home. Our normal workflow is gone and some of us are making busywork so we feel productive and to keep us from going bonkers.

Now that you have both a clear mind and time, let’s look into some new ways to grow your business. Have you ever thought to leverage your brick and mortar brand and go big time e-commerce? Have you thought about setting up or expanding your online store?

Why not? You know your business and your customers are already online purchasing and researching everything they can, and right now they are all stuck at home. By simply leveraging your day-to-day brick and mortar showroom business you can be THE player online.

Before building your online business plan, let’s dig deep to make sure your plan covers all affecting factors. Below are some questions that are not always included in online e-commerce business plans that are leveraging a successful brick and mortar showroom.

Please take a moment to review your target online customer and their unique needs. Keep in mind that your target customer in this instance is likely your current showroom customers, as they can’t access your showrooms right now. You may not even need to be fully e-commerce, but simply allow your clients to browse on your site and then receive a call or email from your showroom staff who may be working remotely.

  1. Why are you adding an online purchase point to your retail showroom?
    1. Make life easier for your current customers
    2. Reach new customers that only shop for your core products online
    3. Create a new online brand that focuses on a special niche of your product mix that you think offers an online opportunity
  2. What special terms will your online customers be looking for that you might not be currently offering in your brick and mortar showrooms? 
    1. Free freight
    2. Expedited delivery
    3. Free returns on all products
  3. What factor will you use for marking up prices from your cost?
  4. Will you have to increase your inventory to meet your online customer’s perceived needs?
  5. What kind of customer service will they expect?
    1. Email and text only
    2. Personal telephone support
    3. AI chatbot with personal chat support
    4. Any mix of the above
  6. Will you have to add any people?
  7. What do your direct competitors offer?

I suggest you take the time to answer these questions. With this information you will be able to build a better selection site that will delight your customers. After all, if you build a go-to site you will have added another quality way for your customers to interact with brand.

P.S.: In the e-commerce world it is easier to start small with one profitable, underserved product niche. This path allows you and your team to market your E-store to a needy market and learn the unique challenges of the e-commerce game. Those that open their E-stores with thousands of SKUs covering many product categories can get quickly overwhelmed and damage the brand they worked so diligently to build.

Good Luck and keep sane…

A version of this article was included in DPHA’s newsletter Connections.

Value = Experience / Price

We are in the midst of the largest retail shakeup in history.  To put the DPH showroom performance in perspective, Coresight Research notes in its November 15 update, “US retailers have announced 9,052 store closures and 3,956 store openings.”  Having just returned from the annual DPHA conference, I can tell you that the overall feeling is that business is good and will remain that way for the next 18 months.  While this is not a statistic, deeply researched or confirmed, it has been a good indicator for years. I would like to congratulate all DPH showrooms for continuing to run ahead of the brick and mortar pack.  Let’s make sure we stay ahead.

Think back to the time before the term “customer experience” was used to evaluate everything from Jiffy Lube to Hermes.  As the industry began to pull itself out of the muck of the recession, the term “product value” was all the rage. Its catch phrase was: “Is that a good value for my money?”  Customers were looking for value – the best products for their dollars, not low price. 

As the industry became skilled on the “value” sales conversation, that term slipped into the background and “customer experience” emerged as the overall, undefinable, defining metric.  Repeatedly we read and have been told that, “All great businesses offer a top-notch customer experience.” We see it referred to in case study after case study but, as with “value,” the challenge is to define and measure great customer experiences.

Angel investor Darren Herman offers guidance in his blog, Operating Partner.  He proposed the following simple formula:

Value = Experience / Price

On first thought, that formula appears to be too simple, when you evaluate the equation in more detail, it makes sense.  The kicker is defining experience. Price is simple: the lower it goes, the lower the experience factor can be to still deliver attractive value. But, if you are playing on the luxury-premium level, you have to improve the experience to justify higher pricing. 

It has been proven continuously that the lowering price value strategy is a never-ending race to the bottom and that’s not a successful formula for DPH luxury experiences.  The decorative plumbing and hardware industry can deliver on its value paradigm by focusing on the following five touchpoints: Showroom, Website, Salespeople, Customer Service and Vendors. 

Breaking them down into easily defined deliverables allows you to create a manageable list to use as a brand experience evaluation scorecard (equally applicable to Manufacturers, Representatives and Showrooms).

  • Website
    • Is your website easy to use and comfortable for your customers to shop?
    • Does your website offer the information your customers require?
    • Is your website easy for Google to find?
    • Are your key vendors’ presentations and product pages up to date?
    • Is your website respected more than your competition’s?
    • For e-commerce sites, does your showroom’s in-stock inventory cater to the products your customers really need before the vendor can deliver? 

Side Note: Today’s customer wants to do their work whenever and wherever they are.  To have a poor website is interpreted as you are not interested in their business.  An effective and easy-to-use website is a must have.

  • Salespeople
    • Are your salespeople more knowledgeable and respected than your competition?
    • Are they consistent from customer to customer?
    • Do they listen actively?
    • Do they want to improve?

Side Note: Every time I am at a showroom or attending a conference the number one problem our colleagues mention is finding good people.  Yet, few companies offer any type of sales training to make their good people better. I have never met a salesperson that cannot get better and that includes me.

  • Customer Service
    • Do you offer uncompromising cradle-to-grave service?
    • Do you proactively communicate both good and bad information with your clients as their job progresses?
    • Do you reach out to the client and end users after the job is finished?
    • Is your product return process painful for the client? Are they presumed guilty before being proven innocent?

Side Note: A significant factor in the continuing growth of showrooms and vendors is based on selling more to good customers.  Will that hold true if you continue to offer the least?

  • Vendors
    • Are they what they say they are?
    • Do they train and keep your purchasing, sales and customer service teams up to date?
    • Do they design and craft products in line with their pricing?
    • Do they deliver on what they promise?
    • Are their demands in line with their value to your business?

Side Note:  Vendors, when was the last time you surveyed the key 100 showroom salespeople about what they think will help your brand improve?  When was the last time you and your distributor showroom surveyed their good builder and trade customers about what they think will help your brand improve? Sitting in your office listening to a few loud folks is not the best way to build your brand’s foundation.

  • Showroom
    • Is your showroom easy and comfortable for your customers to shop?
    • Is your showroom easy to use by your salespeople?
    • Is your showroom perceived as stylish by your core design trade customers?
    • Are your key vendors’ displays up to date?
    • Does your showroom’s inventory contain the products your customers need before the vendor can deliver?

Side Note: Maintaining a showroom is hard work and expensive, but when done effectively is can be very profitable.  The more vendors, representatives and distributor showrooms stay in step, the better for all parties involved.

This list provides a tool to evaluate your business and to determine your customer experience rating.  Each point can be valued good or bad or with a five-point scale. Determine which metric works best for your business and team.

There is one other factor to consider.  Each point on the list focuses on eliminating FRICTION your customers encounter when working with your company.  Both trade customers and end-users HATE friction. Removing friction requires an investment of money and time. Willingly taking back a polished nickel lavatory faucet that looks as if it was attacked by a steel grill brush is not easy or cheap, but necessary.  

Do not lose sight of the fact that you are working to increase your customers’ perceived value of your business.

The bottom line is that each individual customer will evaluate your business.  Having a metric to determine how your business is perceived will improve your customers’ experiences and help you develop effective strategies to address weaknesses.

A version of this article appeared in the January issue of Kitchen & Bath Design News

Is Everyday Discounting Good For Your Brand?

Why would anyone purchase anything at list price?  Today’s marketers continually believe the best way to move merchandise is to put it on sale.  Stories no longer seem to be thought viable. And we all thought Amazon was to blame for the price dropping game.

Every marketer knows that email remains a powerful tool to build brand awareness and the email’s subject line is your brand’s calling card.  Do you really want it to be all about how much today’s discount is? Can your brand only motivate people to open your marketing emails by shouting your products are marked down? 

So after a consistent barrage of XX% off and free freight on any purchase, do you really think people are going to look at your brand as anything but a discount brand?  Even powerhouse home brands such as Restoration Hardware and Williams Sonoma seem to run 50% off sales every other day. Why do I want to buy something that no one else wants? 

Then think of the poor salespeople in the brick and mortar showroom.  The first thing they must do every day is check to see what is on sale today.  It is just like working in a supermarket and we all know how low their margins are.  It is not sustainable.

As long as sales volume and product turnover remains high, these companies can get away with thinning profit margins but when a slowdown comes and sales drop 5%, that low, discounted margin might not be able to cover overhead and viola, losses appear.   Then what happens? The markdown habit a brand gets into in good times are nearly impossible to break in bad times. Quarter to quarter planning is not a good play in the long game.

In the 20’s Your New Best Friend Will Be In The Cloud. But Will You Have Fun?

As our calendars flip from 2019 to 2020, we bid farewell to the iPhone decade.  Yes, the iPhone was announced on stage by the late Steve Jobs in 2007, but its monumental effect changed the way we lived, worked and played in the last decade.  That (toy) tool enabled Facebook, Twitter and numerous other apps to help, hurt and advise us through our days and it is always by our sides. For many people, their smartphone is their first interaction of the day and the last thing they touch before going to sleep.  It has truly changed the way we live and is poised to remain a large part of our lies in the 2020’s

So where do we and our phones go from here.  Will the 20’s be the decade of iGlass? Everything from our toothbrushes to our homes are completely connected to the internet or automated vehicles take us wherever at the tap of an app.  My guess is that by December 2029 artificial intelligence, AI, will be the glue in all of these deliverables. It will be our constant companion at work helping us create better products and deliver exemplary service.  While we are brushing our teeth the toothbrush will communicate our vitals to our AI in the cloud and it will make sure all is good-to-go for the day. AI will be up there, with us everywhere we go.

Where all this amazing tech will take us, I have not a clue.  But just like each decade before, it will be the most amazing decade ever.  Okay that is where the world around us wants to take us. Where do we want to go in the 2020’s? 

How about more FUN in the 2020’s?  I challenge all this tech and AI to add more jot to our lives?

We have always worked to make life easier, more fulfilling…what about FUN.  Let’s contemplate that. Yes, fun, you know those amazing moments when you laugh so hard tears stream from your eyes and you think you are going to have a heart attack.  FUN. When you ride a wave and it spins you like a top and your nose is full of the ocean and your shorts are full of sand, and you just take a moment and laugh at what just made you feel alive.  That is it! I want more alive, fun time in the 2020’s How about it, AI, are you listening?

Do Enjoy…

Mr Musk, Why A Luxury Toy CyberTruck?

Elon Musk had the entire automotive world abuzz about Tesla’s first truck design.  From design freaks to wanna be green building contractors, all were awaiting the unveiling of their electric Tesla truck aspirations.  And what did they see? A DMC DeLorean/Hummer mashup accented with a dash of Cayenne. Tesla’s first “cyber truck” is a toy for the luxury market.  Mr. Musk completely ignored the people that were dreaming of driving their torqued-up high-toned truck to their job Monday through Friday and church on Sunday.  If this vehicle had been designed right, it would have allowed Tesla entry into a new segment of the market. The wealthy blue collar worker. The people that craft our living and working spaces and enjoy  craft brewed IPAs.     

The truck’s design did not have to reflect the familiar lines of today’s working diesel powerhouse trucks.  It simply had to have a unique Tesla look to make a statement as a mobile, jobsite office. Showing that a company, perhaps a contractor or landscaper, is successful and thinking green.  The gadget that Tesla will send to market looks more like a toy purchased to show off by someone who thinks work is having to carry their cases of wine to the car.

Tesla is a luxury brand and a significant amount of luxury brand sales are to customers trading up.  This step-up customer becomes enamoured with a certain brand’s specific product and will do what it takes to bring it home.  I have seen flatbeds, US Army Jeeps and Dodge Power Wagons in elegant automobile collections but never an Escalade at a will call counter. 

For Mr. Monk, a visionary who prides himself on engineering a better way, this vehicle was a startling turnabout.  With SpaceX, The Boring Company, Neuralink and OpenAI, he is working to disrupt the status quo and make the impossible possible.  This Tesla truck strays off that path and that is a shame. 

I think this is a big moment lost for Mr. Musk.  I admire a lot of what they have accomplished but this Tesla Truck is a missed opportunity to take the Tesla brand into a new and very loyal market.   

P.S. This professional market purchases its trucks for their business and that would have made the purchase tax deductible.

Seth Godin’s interesting Tesla thoughts, Attention vs. the chasm

What Happened at the 2019 DPHA Conference in Seattle

As always, the 2019 DPHA conference was abuzz every day from 7 in the morning until well after midnight.  It has been another good year for our industry, and most are enthusiastic about their individual futures and excited about the expanding opportunities in the decorative plumbing and hardware market.   The days were punctuated by captivating product booths and many varied discussion topics.  Below are the more popular trends and topics that were consistent threads in my many conversations:

  • Business remains strong with some secondary markets anticipating a small slowdown in early 2020.
  • New products introduced were mostly simple upgrades and product line tweaks with only a few truly new products presented.
  • People are interested to see if industry consolidation will continue and how it will affect the DPH showroom world.
  • The industry needs to remain focused on luxury versus premium. 
  • Where do the fascinating new technologies fit into our hand-crafted product business?

The education sessions were anchored by talented, insightful people.  Here are my key  takeaways:  

David Avrin enlightened us by helping us to:

  • Locate customers we did not know existed
  • Continually work to surprise and delight our customers
  • Remove FRICTION at all points of customer interaction
  • Allow your team members to make what they think is the best decision versus “doing what the book dictates”
  • Learn why your customers want to buy
  • Remember trust is the root of a good relationship

Jay Acunzo open our eyes to:

  • Never stop looking for the next big thing
  • Never wait for what was the next big thing to die before moving on
  • Never stop improving your business’ unique draw
  • Never stop evaluating your process and structure
  • Understand what the anchors of your business are
  • Build on and refine what is working
  • Meet your customer where they are
  • Make your business’ culture embrace change and creativity

Designer Panel: Overcoming Confirmation Bias, What The Trades Really Want 

  • Do not get rid of printed catalogs
  • As a group, they do not want to buy plumbing on the Internet
  • They need more door hardware training to improve their confidence with product applications
  • Trades cannot always get to the showroom to work with a client, and might send in client alone with STRICT instructions on what to show them
  • They need CAD files now and will soon need BIM (building information modeling) product files
  • A lot of clients are not adventurous and want their entire bathroom designed from one brand’s product series with no deviations
  • New product updates are important, so please ask how each designer would like updates delivered (email, text, etc.)
  • CEU’s are important but not mid-day
  • Designers need finish samples to complete client design presentations – why are they so very hard to get?

The DPHA conference allows the talented people in the DPH world the opportunity to focus on bettering their businesses. Other gatherings are focused on product and purchasing programs. Last week we talked about everything from what ERP to use to earning customer trust.  If you did not attend, you missed the opportunity to gain valuable insights into your business by bouncing ideas off of some very knowledgeable and engaged people.   It is now only 11 months till our next DPHA conference.  Please make plans to join your fellow Decorative Plumbing and Hardware professionals in New Orleans, October 22 – 25, 2020.     The more we work together the more our industry will improve for the benefit of us all. 

Below are the products. companies and individuals that were honored at the 2019 DPHA conference: