Collinsville, OK --Does increasing sales to your shop generally mean you got a few extra referrals? Maybe your best builder pulled a couple extra permits?  While both situations are welcomed events, they were not planned, and more importantly not under our control.  This two-part article will discuss five specific ways cabinet shops can increase sales. Implement these rules and you will be on your way to being a sales rockstar!

When you know there's a problem with sales

We have all been there as a business owner, fighting the vicious sales cycle, the feast or famine that seems to plague most small businesses.  The problem with feast or famine is that it has a profound effect on our cash and operations of the business. One minute we are swamped with work and everyone is on overtime. The very next minute we are pulling everyone back on hours and there is not enough work to go around.  This vicious sales cycle is an indicator of a lack of a sales process.  Just like you have a process in the shop for building a cabinet or cutting wood, you need a sales process that is generating leads, providing quote opportunities, and ultimately turning into paying projects.  It was not until I was in business for several years that I  understood why sales came and went in clumps.

Since then, I have studied, read, and listened to as many resources on the phenomena of sales as I could. What did I learn?   Beyond some basic principles, the takeaway from all the education was this: Selling must be a consistent, steady effort day-in-day-out.

5 rules to successfully fuel your sales engine
So what should that day to day effort consist of? Take time every day to take steps towards accomplishing these 5 rules and your sales will thank you later.
  1. Define what your company does well.
  2. Identify exactly who your ideal buyer is.
  3. Get a killer website.
  4. Start using a CRM NOW.
  5. Give the buyer what they want, without them even knowing! (Inbound Marketing)
Step 1: Define What Your Company Does Well
Do you excel at builder work, commercial, remodel, or restoration? Intuition will tell you that there are some types of jobs you make money on every time and others you make money on some of the time.  Pick your top 1 or 2 company strengths and write them down so we can expand on that thought in step 2. If you focus on your strong area, then you can start to formulate a plan to get more sales that fit your strong suit. It will be tough going from a “yes” shop to one that is targeting the sales they are best suited for.  Decide now to not just say yes to whatever comes in the door. From now on, you decide what you want. Craft a sales plan and focus on it with laser intensity until you get the sales you need.
 
Not sure what you really even want? Read this article from Business Coach Martin Holland to get a jump start on figuring out what you want. The step of identifying your strong points can be a business changer all in its own right. You may decide to stop on this step and get going. For some that may be fine, but if you want to supercharge your sales process keep reading. I assure you, you will be blown away by the results if you follow through with these steps.  
 
 
Step 2: Identify Exactly Who Your Ideal Buyer Is
Build a persona and tell everyone in your company what that person's traits, habits, challenges, and goals are.  First, you may be asking, “What is a persona?”  No, it’s not your imaginary friend named Flip that you talk to when you’re by yourself.  Your business persona is a specific layout of your ideal customer. In other words, if you could hand pick your customer, what would they look like? Give your persona a name and go through the persona template to complete the exercise.  Without going too deep in this article about how to use personas and inbound marketing, take care on this step and put as much effort into it as you possibly can.  Word of caution: Don’t jump out and make 5 personas and expect that to help your efforts. I suggest making no more than 2 to start. This will keep you focused and give you a place to start from.
 
Step 3: Get A Killer Website
Think that your current website is strong?  Go to https://website.grader.com/ and find out the real truth. If you score low on more than 1 or 2 of their measuring parameters, then you may need help.  If you have a healthy score, next ask yourself, "What is my website accomplishing for me?" If it is not meeting your goals, (generating quality leads, presenting your brand as trustworthy and professional, etc.), then why is it there? Better yet, why are you paying monthly to "maintain" something that doesn't make you better?  It is usually pretty easy to tell when you are on a great website versus a website that is there because they were told at some point they needed one. I found out early in the process that website building was not my forte, so I found a professional and got professional results. Check out the finished product at ultcab.com.  While I do not know how to design or make a website, I did know what type of content and feel I needed to speak to my persona. If you find the right website designer, they can take your persona, thoughts, and content and craft a website that you are not only proud of, but that actually speaks to the people you want to speak to.  
 
A couple things to keep in mind when finding someone to build a site:
  • You get what you pay for.  If you find someone to build you a site for $300, then that is what you are going to get. To put it into perspective, how much time can you give a customer for $300? Not much, right?
  • What’s a going rate for a professional website?  That is a loaded question, but I can tell you I paid around $2,500 to build it, plus the additional costs of video and ongoing monthly support. That was way more than I could have ever thought about spending had it not been for another customer of the website builder that I talked to before the process.  Normally, I would have been the one looking for the $300 deal. Trust me, you will not get enough value if you only spend $300.  
  • Make an investment like you would in equipment. Justify the purchase with an ROI and suddenly you will notice that you cannot afford not to spend more money on your website.
 
What now?
Now you may ask, “What am I going to do with this fancy foundation?”  In Part 2 we will dig into steps 4 and 5 to complete your guide to amping up your cabinet sales. Get ready to be free of the vicious sales cycle. In the meantime, I challenge you to take the first step to controlling your sales process. Take a shot at steps 1 & 2 this week using this template and you'll be ready to roll in Part 2
 
Jeff Finney is the owner of Ultimate Cabinet Components in Collinsville, OK.  He has owned his own cabinet businesses for the last 15 years and says he "learned how to run a business the hard way."  "We started as a residential custom cabinet shop and started doing some commercial work. A few years back we transitioned into a cabinet box component company and now provide RTA flat pack cabinets online."  For more shop insights from Jeff Finney, check out his articles at ultcab.com or listen to his podcast at thepushthru.com.
 

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.