The more you can help your customers succeed, the more loyal they will be to you. Installation training and marketing support are the most common ways building materials companies help their customers to be more successful.
In your quest to be of more value to your customers, you should look beyond the traditional approaches.
For example, why not help them prepare for the next economic downturn?
I’m am not predicting a recession but we all know that at some time there will be a downturn.
This suggestion is not for the largest contracting firms, architects, builders, dealers and distributors or big boxes. This is meant for the thousands of smaller to medium sized customers who use your products.
These are the ones who can use your advice, are the most likely to follow it and will appreciate your advice.
For example, if you sell products to contractors, the following type of advice will be of great interest to those contractors.
9 Ways (Your Product) Contractors Can Prepare for the Next Recession
1. Balance Sheet
It’s easy for companies to get complacent about certain things when business is good. The balance sheet is one of them.
If you’re like most companies, when business is good you probably tend to focus on investing in growth and sales volume over profit margins. Growth is good, of course, but it tends to negatively affect your financial statements. Take some time to review your financial statements with your advisors. If your sales declined, would your business survive?
The health of your business isn’t the only one you should be concerned with. How well your current customers would do during an economic downturn matters too.
If you feel that the market is about to slow down, it’s probably time to leave the customers who have trouble paying their bills or who simply don’t run their businesses very well.
No longer having to deal with those customers will free up some of your time and resources. Use them to put a renewed effort into going after the best customers in your market.
Good labor is hard to find, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for keeping poor performers on your team. You simply can’t afford them.
You don’t have to settle for mediocre staff just because you’re a small player and don’t have the same resources as some of your competitors. Take steps to improve the reputation of your company and strengthen your company culture. You’ll be able to get great talent if you’re known as the best place to work in your market. It’s not about paying more.
Pay extra attention to the attitudes of everyone who comes into contact with the customer. That person who has been with you a long time might really know their stuff, but they will cost you business if they’re difficult to deal with.
Review your website, social media, paid ads and other marketing. How can they be strengthened?
Do you know why you’re doing what you’re doing with your marketing? How much of it are you doing because it actually works and how much of it are you doing just because it’s the way you’ve always done it? How are you measuring the ROI of your marketing?
5. Residential or Commercial?
We talk about recessions, downturns and slowdowns like they have a blanket effect on the entire economy. It’s true that they tend to depress all markets, but not all markets decline as sharply.
If you’re strong in either the residential or commercial market, you might consider making inroads into the other to reduce your risk if one declines more. If you want to make this move, start with small customers to learn the differences between the two markets.
6. New Construction or Remodel?
Same advice as above. When new construction drops off, remodeling usually picks up.
7. Change the Game
You and your competitors are probably playing a different game than your customers. You’re trying to improve your performance, but you’re doing business the same way you’ve done it in the past. Your customers are changing faster than suppliers like you and your competitors. They want to work with innovative companies, not those who are really good at playing the old game.
In new construction, for instance, customers are now forced to significantly reduce waste and inefficiency. They’re looking for suppliers who can help them become more productive. This should be you!
8. Be the Guide
Your customers don’t want to buy your product. They want to avoid making a mistake. They are looking for trusted experts who can guide them. You should become that trusted expert.
Homebuilders, architects and homeowners are not experts in your products. You are. So act like it!
9. Evaluate your suppliers.
Are you with the companies who are most committed to your success? Let us show you how we are committed to your success whatever the state of the economy.
Or you could do offer this type of helpful advice to dealers, distributors, builders or architects.
If you want to be a more important part of your customer’s business, think beyond installation training, leads and marketing support. Show them that you really understand their business and are committed to their success.