There are 3 steps that manufacturers should take in order to grow the sales of kitchen cabinets, sinks, faucets, appliances and countertops. These steps are based on the fact that most kitchen products are sold through dealers who design and install.
1. Convince the dealer to carry your brand.
The best way to do this is to show him the sales he is missing by not carrying your brand. This approach also works when he is having problems with a current brand. However, for that to work, you have to wait for the problem.
A more proactive approach is to focus on the business proposition of how he will add more sales if he carries your brand. He is not looking to simply switch sales from another brand to you. There’s no growth there. Providing the dealer with a business proposition also keeps the discussion away from price.
You shouldn’t just offer this to any dealer. You should profile dealers first, target the best ones and then approach the ones that are the best fit for your brand.
It also helps to have a strong marketing program like the one I suggest in Step 3. If it is strong enough, a dealer won’t want to see his competition having this program. He won’t want to compete against it.
2. Get the designers to prefer your brand.
A dealer will carry several brands, and, of those brands, the designers have a favorite as well as one they really don’t want to sell. Don’t think just because you made a deal with the boss that your brand will be preferred. Don’t think just because you have the best designs that the designer will prefer you.
Talk to the designers about which brands they prefer and why. It may be the design or the price point but it can also have a lot to do with how easy it is to do business with a brand. A new kitchen can be one of the biggest headaches a homeowner will ever experience.
The designer not only wants a great end result but also a great trouble-free experience for the homeowner. I think you’ll find that they prefer brands that do what they say. Brands that ship on time. Brands that don’t have damaged or missing items that hold up projects. Brands that make it easy to do business with them.
Be sure to train the designers on the features of your products. Assure them that dealing with you will be as trouble-free as possible. Tell them how you will handle problems when they arise.
Finally, find a way to draw attention to your products. When a homeowner enters the showroom, you want them to notice and ask about your product. Great point of sale tools and an occasional special offer can help. Any point of sale must be very tasteful.
3. Help the dealer outperform his competition.
You should help the dealers who carry your brand outperform the other dealers in their market area. This is where your marketing department should help out.
While there are a few large multi-location dealers with sophisticated marketing departments, most dealers are too small for this. They have to wear too many hats to be experts at marketing.
Most of them end up doing the same advertising and marketing programs they have always done. They reach the same neighborhoods and types of homeowners.
You can help them move beyond the same old paid media advertising they have been doing year after year. They probably have a website that’s out of date and not mobile friendly. They struggle with social media. They don’t realize that there is a wider audience for them in their city.
The goal should be to get them up to bat more often. If you assume that a kitchen shopper visits 3 to 5 dealers or big boxes as part of their shopping process, the goal should be to get your dealer to be one of those 3 to 5 more often.
You don’t need to develop a custom program for each dealer. Have your agency or marketing department go out into the market and act like an anthropologist. They should forget everything they know and assume to be true about how kitchens are sold.
If they can be open and curious, they will uncover some great ways to help their dealers outperform their market.
I don’t want to slide a commercial for me in here, but you may have to go outside for the discovery portion of this.
Don’t invest in co-op funds; invest in ideas and programs. Giving a dealer money to execute a mediocre marketing campaign does little to help him or differentiate the cabinet manufacturer.
If you stop trying to outsell the other cabinet manufactures and focus on making your dealers more successful, you will outsell your competition.