If you do a Google search for the word “preparedness” you get back over 40 million responses. The federal, every state and every county emergency management agency pushes preparedness constantly and September is National Preparedness Month. BUT, do you have to wait until then to sell preparedness? The hurricane season and thunderstorms that spawn tornadoes are nigh upon us already. Now, you may ask what home improvement has to do with preparedness? The answer is: whatever you can articulate. Take a walk around your store and think about what you can do with any of the products you find. Preparedness, as a sales hook, can be huge.
Let’s start with power. Every house out there uses electricity. The need for it doesn’t stop when a hurricane or tornado goes through and knocks the power out. That’s why there is an increased market for generators during the hurricane season, but that’s not the only product that will sell. What else can be attacked or recommended by your staff to help increase your sales? What else might the customer need to help them be better prepared? Where generators are concerned, oil and gasoline are two easy sells. You may not sell gas, but you sell gas cans. You probably sell oil. What about funnels? Garage towels? Gloves? All of those can be sold in conjunction with a generator. What about connecting cables? Extension cords? More easy sales.
We use electricity to heat, cool, light and cook. It takes a fair size generator to run an HVAC system, so assuming your customers only buy a generator big enough to run their refrigerator and maybe their microwave… possibly a lamp or two (more on light in a minute), how about that heating, cooling and cooking? If the emergency is during the summer months, fans are an additional easy sell. If it happens to be during the winter months then you have a number of options dependent on what your customer’s situation is. Kerosene heaters, space heaters, fireplace accessories, woodstove accessories and more can all be attached to the topic of preparedness for sales. Propane? Yep. It can be used for heating AND for cooking. (This author once cooked on his grill outside for a week after a hurricane knocked out power.)
Now, let’s go back and revisit light for a moment. Flashlights and LED lamps can be used for navigating around the house and lighting small areas. That means selling them in quantity and the batteries to power them. Here’s a trick that might help you sell some outside lighting fixtures for inside use during emergencies. The solar powered “Tiki torches” or landscaping lights usually have twist off tops. The solar cell and the LED lamp are both attached to that top. After the lamp has been outside in the sun charging all day, twist it off and bring it inside. Turn it upside down so the lamp is facing up and turn it on (most quality ones have an on/off switch). They become small rechargeable area lamps perfect for bathrooms or bedrooms. They put off just enough light to function and don’t present a fire or heat hazard. Do you have some left from your summer season that just didn’t go when you put them on clearance? Put them as part of your “Hurricane Preparedness Sale” and get another chance to sell some of that stock.
There is a lot more that can be “preparedness” sale material. Anything to do with collecting, filtering and storing water is an easy sell. Anything that has to do with cold storage (got some coolers left over from summer stock?) and/or HOT storage can be sold as preparedness materials. Even locks can be sold as preparedness materials if they can be used to protect property or secure supplies. It’s simply a matter of packaging and presentation.
And you’d be doing your customers a favor too. Few things are less fun that being without power for a week or more when the temperatures are above 80F or below 50F. Having all your refrigerated food go bad is a financial loss that isn’t any fun. Taking cold showers because you can’t heat water makes showers REAL fast. Do you sell camping kit at all? Camp showers are fantastic if it’s sunny and warm out but the power is out. One five-gallon camp shower hung in the sun can heat the water to over 100F in less than an hour or so. Then you can sell the “Emergency Outdoor Shower Kit” which is made up of the camp shower, a suitably sized tarp and an Easy-Up awning plus a package of zip-ties.