Upside-Down Thinking by Patric Fransko
by Patric Fransko
April 9th, 2014

Build Your Business with the Customers You Already Have

As we head into the spring and summer selling season, I am reminded of some advice that I was given a long time ago and that I have shared with many of my clients over the years. Don’t worry so much about bringing in new customers that you fail to see the opportunity with the ones you already have.

When I was in the bike industry, we often joked that the bikes that we sold were just something to hang accessories on. You see, the number of bikes that a local shop would typically sell in a given year was relatively fixed by many things that were out of the business owners control like population, demographics of that population, climate, etc. Shops that had been in business for many years could almost predict how many bikes that they would sell, and often be able to give you price point and size break downs with scary accuracy. They needed to be able to do this as they often had to pre-order many of their bikes before the season even started.

The point that I am trying to make by telling this story is that, for a shop to grow and become more profitable, they had to rely on something other than just selling more bikes. This is where the joke regarding the accessory sales came in. Typically, the difference between a shop having a good or a great year came down to how successful it was at selling accompanying bike accessories to the people buying bikes. We talked about the “Rule of Three.” Make sure that you always, after listening to the customer’s needs, suggest three accessories that they could add to their bike that would enable them to enjoy that purchase even more. For one customer, it might be a gel saddle, water bottle/cage and a rear rack. For another it might be cycling shorts, a bike computer and some riding shoes. The accessories would be suited to each customer’s needs, increase their enjoyment of the purchase AND increase the profitability of that transaction for the business.

So, how does this relate to our industry? When I am out visiting shops throughout the country, I often have them tell me how many weeks into the future that they are “booked” out. This is especially true once the tax return checks start arriving and typically does not stop till kids return to school in the fall. While this is a good problem to have in some way, what it really means is that your shop is operating at, or near capacity. You are taking in as much work as you can handle given the constraints of shop size, number of installers, etc. Unless you move into a bigger shop or hired more installers, you are running at your capacity. Like the bike shop owner that knows within a range how many bikes they will sell each year, you can predict how many square feet or how many cars you will install film on each year too. Whether you care to face it or not, this is the reality for many businesses in our industry. If this is true for you, you need a strategy that will enable you to grow given these constraints.

Remember the “Rule of Three?” How can that be applied to our industry? While I do not have time to dive into each one of the possibilities in this article, there are many options available. For an automotive installer, you can look into paint protection film, vinyl graphics, headlight restoration and car care products. For the residential or commercial installer, your choices are more limited, but you can still look into the window coverings, window cleaning or looking for add-on work for each job such as decorative film in a bathroom, etc. One of my favorite for both automotive and flat glass installers is offering a “Window Tint Care Kit.” Made up of a can of window film-safe glass cleaner and a microfiber, this kit can transform the bottom line of your business. I plan to discuss this at length in a future post, so please stay tuned.

My hope is that this information resonates with many of you and that you begin considering what your “Rule of Three” might look like. By finding ways to extend the sale to customers you are already doing business with, you have an avenue to grow your top and bottom line even if you find yourself operating at or near capacity. Doing this consistently just might be the difference between 2014 being a good year and a GREAT year! Good selling everyone!

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  1. Don’t overlook selling premium films. Most times we only get one chance to apply film to a window, why not offer your clients a good, better, best option? Typically the labor time will be same regardless of the product so it is a great way to offer your clients a better product AND increase your profitability. Selling premium products also increases your profitability during the slower times so you don’t have to be at maximum capacity to stay in business.

    Remember, it is not up to you to decide how much your potential client wants to spend on window film. It IS up to you to show them options and educate them so they can make a decision and feel like they are getting a good value for their dollar.

  2. Great point Kevin! Always important to show and explain to your clients the features and benefits of your line. I like a good, better, best approach, never showing the potential client more than 3 options that I have chosen based on what they told me as I asked questions about their needs. We often push a client toward the film we would buy if we were the one spending the money. Let the client make that choice. You may be surprised at how often they choose the more expensive film.
    Thanks Kevin for highlighting this point.

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