September 21st marked the first official day of fall for North America. For most everyone else in the country that meant they had to start thinking about cleaning up fallen leaves, slow down on mowing their lawn and making sure they had ice scrapers in their vehicles. For everyone who works in the Home Improvement Retail market it meant setting up sales and promotions around snow removal, ice melt and more. Have you ever thought about setting up “linear planning” sales? Here’s what we mean…
It’s fall. Leaves will soon be falling (if they aren’t already). Rakes and leaf blowers will be hot sales items. Rakes are fairly standard items and whether it’s a plastic rake or metal rake is largely just a matter of buyer preference. You can put together a pitch to push one over the other if you have too much of one kind in stock, but ultimately some people always prefer metal over plastic – and vice versa. But what about leaf blowers?
Leaf blowers come in a variety of designs and power levels and you probably have a plan in place to try to sell people up; that is to say, to convince buyers to buy the next version up from what they were originally looking at. From handheld cordless electric, to corded electric, to two-stroke, four stroke and backpack blowers, you can certainly stock a wide variety of leaf blowers. What’s your customer looking for? Can you get them to purchase the next model up? Do they want more power? More convenience? Are they ecologically motivated and don’t want to burn gas? Do they not want to keep mixed fuel for a two-stroke? A brief conversation can give you some insight as to what they are looking for and what recommendations you can make.
But there you are, and you’ve just talked to this consumer about the pros and cons of a four-stroke backpack blower over the two-stroke handheld version they came in for. In the course of that conversation you probably got an idea of how much property they have to clear and you might have even gotten an idea of how much driveway they have to worry about as well. It’s the perfect opportunity to open the conversation about shovels, snow blowers and ice melt. What you suggest can be tailored to their desires or motivations based on the conversation you just had. If the consumer is ecologically motivated and doesn’t want to burn gas, there’s a strong likelihood that they won’t want to spread ice melt either. The may not be a fan of the idea of a snow blower but want two or three good shovels. While we might be disappointed that we’re losing the sale of a good snow blower, we should be happy that we’re gaining the immediate sales of three shovels.
And after you’ve had all THAT conversation it’s good to ask them if they’ve aeriated and seeded their yard. It’s fall. It’s the time to do that. Do you have a recommendation on seed? Is your area partial to certain blends or types of grass? Those are things your employees should know and be ready to discuss as they have a yard / grounds maintenance conversation with your customers. And that’s really what we’re talking about: yard and grounds maintenance.
Whether your customer is coming in for products to blow leaves, clear snow, melt ice, aeriating and seeding the lawn… these are all grounds maintenance. Clearing decks and keeping stairs clear is included. Remember that customer service isn’t just answering questions. When the customer asks a question it’s an opening to have a conversation that can be used to steer them toward more purchases and better selections.
So… are you prepared for winter? Because we’ve passed the first day of fall and if you’re not, then you’re behind the curve.