Trick or treatIn honor of Halloween, I decided I would write about the scariest things I’ve seen in cabinet dealerships and remodeling business recently.  To protect the innocent, no names or locations will be used.

And if you read this and know that it’s your business we’re referring to, just know that you’re helping other operations become more successful.  If you don’t tell, I never will – so it can be our little secret.

{deep breath} Here it goes…

“I think it would actually be cheaper for them to hire a full time employee”

Faxing, Faxing and More Faxing

To really appreciate this one you have to imagine a main showroom attached to a back office – all under one roof.  You can walk out of the office and a few feet later you’ll find yourself in the showroom.

Separating the showroom from the office is, of course, a sheetrock wall.  In the middle of the sheetrock wall is a door that anyone can walk through which will become important in just a moment.

Since all locations at this dealership fax in their paperwork to the main office for processing (I know, don’t get me started…), you can imagine our surprise when we learned that employees in the main showroom literally stand in front of a fax machine next to a vignette and fax reams of paper to the receiving fax machine just on the other side of the door.  That’s right – a task that could literally be completed in seconds by walking through the door and dropping off the paperwork in the back office actually takes hours out of everyone’s day as they literally fax through a sheetrock wall.

I think it would actually be cheaper for them to hire a full time employee just to walk paper job folders 4 feet in each direction… {…shiver…}

The Scheduling Board from Hell

It’s huge and you’ll stand in awe as you walk into this room with the largest scheduling calendar known to man.  There was a step stool next to the board that you have to use to schedule deliveries and installs the first week of every month.  The board had so many colors in 6 point font that I almost had a seizure.  In fact, just imagining it again makes me think I might stroke out.

At the bottom of the calendar were 5 wooden boxes that contained the paperwork needed for the jobs for that day.  I asked if I could see one and carefully took out the top job’s paperwork from Wednesday’s wooden box.  I know it was Wednesday because I’m into yin and yang and free-diving and stuff, and, well, Wednesday has two equal days before and after it.  Besides, I figured it’s a good test to grab something from the middle of the week.

As I removed the paperwork I said “Now this is Wednesday {bold added for emphasis} so we can all make sure it goes back into the right pile, right?”  Everyone laughed.

We looked through an inch of paperwork and we talked for about 15 minutes.  As I went to put it back in Wednesday’s box, I was corrected by an employee that it was pulled from Thursday’s box – a full one day later.

Seriously – I tried very politely to explain it was Wednesday’s pile.  In the end I lost.  One day I want to write an apology letter to that customer for a missed delivery but alas, I’ll never know the name.

Salespeople who Purchase

I see this so many places but it still scares the hell out of me.  But at this dealership, it was ten times worse. Paperwork requirements were so intense that salespeople actually went out of their way to not sell smaller jobs.

Why?  Because it wasn’t worth their time.  They’d rather tell a customer no and forego the revenue for the company because they couldn’t bear the thought of losing those hours from their day.

As if in this market, you actually get that kind of luxury.


The Closing Rate Scandal

After reviewing this operation, we just couldn’t figure out why closing rates were so ridiculously high.  Something must have been amiss, but everyone on the staff seemed well versed in their own closing numbers.  But when we bounced this against the annual sales volume of each designer, the sales production was well below industry average.

That’s when we started looking into how the closing rates were being calculated.  Without boring you too much, here’s the quote that summarizes it best.

“Well, we don’t count the ones that weren’t interested in buying from us.”

{screeeeech…record stops}

So which is more concerning – the fact that the closing rate calculations were incorrect – or the fact that they didn’t have a 100% closing rate?

I’ll leave you to ponder that.