We all have that one friend: the neighbor whose yard is always perfect; the guy whose house looks like it never needs painting; the friend who has the perfect backyard patio/BBQ setup not far from his sparkling perfectly clean blue pool; and the “shade tree mechanic” friend whose garage is pristine. It’s that last guy we’re going to talk about a little bit today – or more specifically, how you can get your garage to look a bit more like his. For the purposes of our retailer community, consider how you can help your customers clean up, organize and prepare their garages for the variety of storage and maintenance needs presented.
Spring is that time of year that, for whatever reason, drives us to want to clean up, organize, throw out the old, bring in the new, etc. Perhaps it’s that “new beginnings” feeling that comes with seeing the trees green up or seeing flowers bloom. Perhaps it’s just that we’ve been inside way too much during the cold months and now we’re eager to get out and do something outside. Either way, as we move through spring and into summer, we certainly do find ourselves doing more outside: vehicle maintenance, yard work, gardening, house repairs and more. No matter what you’re doing outside (or what your customers are doing), being organized and having a clean storage area makes it all go smoother.
First, let’s talk about cleaning. Spring cleaning is a phrase that’s nearly as old as the hills and one that often brings a groan of disappointment from the consumer / home owner. To spring clean a garage, it has to be emptied. Some items will need to be cleaned, or at least dusted off, and some things will need to be thrown out. Depending on the nature of the trash, your customers will need heavy duty extra large trash bags and, most likely, 55-gallon trash cans to put them in. Quite often your patrons will also be cleaning out items listed as hazardous materials such as old paint, etc. and they need guidance on the way to legally and safely dispose of them. For your local area, it might be handy to have a list of local dumps or disposal sites, the schedules for them and the protocols for delivery of the hazmat materials. Such a handout can help your consumers a great deal and it costs little to produce.
Next let’s talk about the floor and walls of the garage space. A good power washer can get grime, grit and stains off the floor and any part of the walls that are concrete or cinder block. Unfinished, simply framed walls need to be brushed clean of cobwebs, spiderwebs and dust. Sweeping / wiping might work but a good shop vacuum will do even better. Are they on special at your retail outlet? Have you considered bundling a shop vac with a broom and dustpan set?
After the floor and walls have been properly cleaned (and allowed to dry as necessary), a coat of paint can make them look brand new. Light gray is the most common color used (sometimes referred to as “battleship gray”) for painting garage floors. It shows stains and drips easily enough but doesn’t look badly tarnished with such like bright white would and doesn’t hide such like dark brown or black would. Concrete and cinder block walls CAN be painted white, as can simply framed walls, although most people don’t. All paints used should be latex based and approved for exterior use. Your customers will likely need the paint, rollers, a sprayer, cleaning materials, trays, stirrers, etc. Your paint department personnel should be briefed on the sales push and bundling such items.
Once the painted parts have dried, but before everything else is loaded back into the garage space, proper organization needs to be arranged. Does your consumer need cabinetry? Shelves? Hooks? This is the perfect time for them to bring in that new second refrigerator or deep freeze they’ve been planning to add in the garage. Perhaps they’d like to build a work bench? And while they might not have thought about it, a small under-counter refrigerator or even small “desk top” ‘fridge might be perfect to add? You might be surprised how many of your customers light up at the idea of having a supply of cold beverages at one end of their workbench or tucked underneath.
In today’s modern world, something else you might find on that workbench is a computer set up. Why? Because so many of those home mechanics are using YouTube and other website references to figure out how to do what they need or want to do to their vehicles. One amateur mechanic’s garage we know of has a dedicated desk top computer set up with a 50” monitor mounted on the wall above the workbench. Under the bench is the previously mentioned refrigerator full of water, sodas and other beverages. While the garage is completely empty, freshly cleaned and painted is the time to plan how everything is going back and build the vision your customer has for end use.
Tools need to be properly stored as well. In that garage mentioned above there are two full size tool chests, every drawer labeled with what’s in it and all the tools properly organized left to right, top to bottom by what’s most commonly used and needed. Have you ever thought about bundling a label maker with your storage cabinetry or tool chests?
Ask your customer if they have a shed for storing gardening tools or if those have to go in the garage as well. You may find yourself able to actually sell a shed for all of the gardening tools and supplies if the customer wants to dedicate their garage for automobile maintenance and work. If they need to store the gardening tools in the garage, a tall cabinet or wall mount system might work best and keep those tools tucked neatly away out of the way of vehicles and the space needed to work on them.
The last couple features that you can sell, and that the customer will likely find “way cool,” are centralized hubs for power or compressed air. If your patron is frequently using their garage for mechanical work on vehicles, they likely have a set of air tools and a large air compressor. Centralizing the tank and running lines to hook ups isn’t inexpensive but you’ll find many of your customers willing to do so simply for the convenience of always having a nearby air outlet. The same holds true with on-reel power cords. Most folks who have power tools will complain about having to pull out, stretch out, untangle, re-roll and restore extension cords. Even more convenient than having outlets wired in all around the garage, and less costly in the long run, is a couple power cord reels centrally mounted. Putting one where it can be reached in the middle of a two car garage, or centered in the front of a single bay, can make a day of using power tools much easier and far quicker to clean up.
You know your retail outlet best and what sales, from all the items included above, are going fast or slow for you. Consider the idea of “project support” and start bundling up items from your various departments that the consumer can use, in a logical order that you suggest, to get their garage “summer ready.”