Has The Convenience Economy Evolved Into The Rental Economy?

Have an elegant soirée to attend?  Do you have the right outfit? One that expresses your style and attitude?   What’s a person to do? RENT! Point your browser to Rent-The-Runway and you and Chanel are off to the ball.  

Renting instead of buying is nothing new; my father and I would often go to Sam’s Uhaul and rent tools to help us keep our yard presentable.  In the 60’s, people did not own large, powerful gardening tools. Today, we fill our garages and outdoor sheds with equipment used just once or twice a year.  People wanted to own “stuff” and it had to be professional quality. We stopped renting. Now, the tide seems to be turning.

Today, if you want that special tool, Google will find it and with a few clicks, it will be delivered to your door.  Then, when your yard work is complete, tech will whisk it away, saving you money and space in your garage. Tech makes renting so easy, why buy?  Do you really need all those tools and toys in your garage?

Uber did not invent taxi service, they made it easier.  At the tap of your finger, Uber directs the closest driver to pick you up and deliver you to your destination.  Not only is Uber easy, it is so easy that it has become a viable alternative to owning your own vehicle. Your pristine speed demon sits 80% of the day depreciating.  In fact, if you do take a long drive now and then, it is less expensive to rent a car than to drive your own car. Do we really need two cars in our garage (if there’s even room in your garage!)?

New to the rental game is Feathers furniture.  Feathers believes people do not really want to own expensive furniture pieces and lug them from house to house.  If you move into a new abode, they will simply pick up the old and send the new selections to your new space with no delivery charges. If you grow tired of of the furniture you selected, they will change the pieces out at no change.  In 2018, Waverly and Ikea sold just shy of 15 billion dollars of furniture in the US. Do you think Feathers VC’s might profit from their investment?

Is this the tipping point where we own less and rent when we need a specific product or service?  In many instances it makes so much more sense to rent versus own. If an item costs $150 to buy brand-new or $35 to rent, as the old saying goes, if I use it 4 times I break even.  Is investing in those “IF”s a good investment strategy?

A few relevant links:

Image courtesy of Ksenia Sergeeva via Pixabay

Let Your Sales People Sell

Consistent follow-up habits are one of the most important talents of great sales people. Here’s a giant fallacy – your sales team must be available for the customers at all times. Take a moment and think about that. Your top salesperson is on the phone with a homeowner discussing the differences of two satin nickel finishes from different manufacturers being installed in the same room. Talk about a waste of time, not to mention that this conversation has no “right” answer. So, while your top producer listens patiently to this conversation, potential sales wander around the showroom unattended. Frustrating?

When showroom owners are asked what they need, better and more sales people top the list. So what does one do? Search, hire and pray that all the planets align and this person becomes the “Tom Brady of toilets.” Alternatively, you can make more time for your salespeople to sell. Yes, sell – don’t chase orders or play psychologist – simply sell.

It usually takes 24 months to prepare a salesperson to obtain the knowledge where they are capable of working with a talented trade person, specifying plumbing and hardware for a luxury home. At this point, they are ready to make money for your operation, but you now need to protect your investment from burning out. The question you should be asking yourself now is “How can I find them more time to sell and at the same time, remove the annoying stuff?” Hire a full-time customer service person.

The main arguments against taking after-sales follow-up away from the salesperson people is that the salesperson wants to always service their customers and it strengthens the relationship. The client may also demand that they deal with their salesperson; this is the person they trust. So what to do?

The salesperson has to learn to trust that the company (and your brand) will them back them up and coddle their customers – their customers, your customers. Your sales professionals need to know that the company will service their customers no matter what the situation. The move to add a customer service person will help your brand expand its reach while allowing your best people to do what they do best. This process may take a bit of time, roughly 6 to 9 months, but when it is in place you will have a better company while probably adding even more to your bottom line.

Just do what you do best

Red Auerbach

A version of this article was in the August 2 issue of the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware’s newsletter, Connections.

Do Your Sales People Really Have All The Story?

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Your inside showroom sales person is finishing up a great meeting, their client is nodding like a bobble head and a HUGE order is now in play.  Then, the sales person says goodbye and walks straight to their terminal to check their email and text messages.  What?  With all that knowledge and information flowing fresh in their mind, they shift gears and go to email?

And yes, many outside sales people do the same thing.  They give a killer presentation at a top design firm’s office, then wander back to their car, checking email and text messages.  Once done with that task, they simply start their car and drive to the next appointment.  AGGHHH! Maybe, just maybe, they will review their notes and meeting memories before they go to bed tonight.

As both persons described above fiddle with their email and text messages, all that profitable information from their sales calls begins to diminish.  Honestly, we really have to save all those wonderful stories, action items and product notes noted ASAP in order to be completely accurate.  Sure, they took “detailed” meeting notes, but no one can write everything completely and correctly.  Good sales people are listening, thinking and talking.  With all that going on, even the best sales people will miss valuable pieces of information.  

Our short-term memory is designed to help us survive life-or-death circumstances – it is not programmed to recall that the designer we talked to is starting a large job in November.  That has no short-term value and your brain knows that, so the memory can very well slip away.  Everyone needs to make it a habit to stop and review their notes, both written and remembered, and if remembered, that important information should be recorded as quickly as possible. 

At your next sales meeting, take a moment to work with your associates to try and break this habit.  Many may most likely fire back that they have to make sure their other customers have not been trying to reach them with a monumental catastrophe.  The simple response is that the just-concluded meeting may have taken a few hours, so another 30 minutes shouldn’t make a difference.  However, if the meeting notes are incorrect or incomplete, they might indeed be creating a monumental catastrophe for the future.Endeavor to make it a habit that your sales team always takes the time after a meeting, call or training session to review and edit their notes.  Then give it one more go-over.  Now, they are set up to slam dunk this opportunity.

Also published on the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association’s Connection s Blog: Welcomed Thoughts from a Fellow (Jeff Valles): Do Your Sales People Really Have All The Story?