A friend of mine that lives in Northern California is in the process of a major home renovation. He called to ask me if I would recommend a showroom or two, in his area, that he and his wife could visit to buy products for their four bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room and mudroom. I gladly referred the couple to three of my favorite showrooms. (I say “gladly” because I was relieved that their first question wasn’t, “Can you get me a deal on some plumbing fixtures?”). The other question I still get from family and friends is, “Can you stop by to take a look at my leaky sink?” But that’s another story.

My buddy called me back after about an hour and told me that none of the showrooms I’d recommended were open on Saturday!

“David, my wife and I work like crazy and we don’t have time during the week to browse for products at a showroom – this is impossible!” he yelled at me.

All I’ve been hearing for months now is how dealers’ showroom traffic is way down and how sales are terrible. Hello dealers, what are you doing about this?

I know, I know … the thought for many years was that if a potential client was serious enough about purchasing something they would make the time during the “normal” work week to come in and buy it. Or, “We only work with trade professionals and their clients so we don’t need to open on weekends.” I am aware of these concepts as I lived in the showroom world for many years as an independent and oversaw 27 locations in seven states. (I’ve got the gray hair to prove it!) But as we all know, times are different and today, more than ever, we must change our model to attract business. And I mean the right business, by the way.

In the example of my friend, both he and his wife are highly successful in their fields, great income earners, and they have two children and a dog, and can certainly afford to purchase nice products for their home … but they can not afford to loose their jobs or any of their clients.

Think about it from your customer’s perspective or your own perspective as a consumer:

  • Successful people are highly focused on their businesses and careers – so they need to work longer and harder to accommodate the needs of their customers or their companies’ work requirements.
  • There are many more dual income earning couples out there now and scheduling appointments together is difficult.
  • The “two or three hour lunch break” is not looked upon as a good thing during today’s economic climate … And even if no one is looking … maybe there is a guilt factor involved.
  • Discretionary dollars for purchasing more upscale products takes a bit more time and consideration for many consumers these days … So from the sale’s side, it will take more education, more service, and more focus during the process. Why add stress to your potential client’s experience by having them not be able to take the proper time to decide – on their time?
  • Even designers and other trade folks are working unique hours and doing their part to accommodate their clients. A Saturday might be the only time they can come visit a location (for all the same reasons stated above).

Some showroom owners are probably thinking that this option is difficult because of the added overhead expense of opening a sixth day. Perhaps the solution is to create alternate work schedules for staff, or even close on a weekday and promote the heck out of opening on Saturdays to accommodate your clients’ busy lifestyles. Another point about my friend’s story is that not one of the showroom employees who they spoke to on the phone offered to set up an off-hour appointment. How nice would that have been? I’ll tell you how nice … he wouldn’t have called and yelled at me!

When you do decide to change your hours of operation and approach customer sales – be sure to market this internally and externally. Tell the story of why you are changing your business to accommodate clients’ needs.

Business is still out there … We just need to give them a chance to purchase when they are able to. Saturday just might be the day.