56-modphoto 2I walked in (garlic in hand) to interview a vampire.  I didn’t know what this beast could possibly want to discuss, as it’s not everyday a vampire requests to be interviewed.

As luck would have it, he was a friendly vampire and the only real thing he wanted to sink his teeth into was how cabinet dealerships and remodeling businesses could keep the competition from driving a stake through their hearts.

So Mr. Vampire (or should I call you Chris Mele)…let’s talk about how you get ahead of your competitors

How do you compete with more established businesses without spending loads of money?

I read a Harvard Business Review article recently that confirmed a lot of what we’ve been saying over the years.  Their findings are that over half of customers become loyal to your brand – not because of what they are buying – but because of the experience they had while buying from you.  You win against your competitors every time if the experience of buying a kitchen at your dealership is better.

Get friends and family to buy a kitchen from your team.  Then have them report back on what they liked and what they didn’t like.  Dig deep into the experience that your prospects have when purchasing from you.  That will give you a laundry list of things to focus on and improve.

Do you need to always be bigger and better than everyone else to win the sale?

No – and if you’ve recently won a deal against one of the home centers you’ll realize it’s actually the opposite.  Buyers don’t necessarily want bigger and better.  Buyers want to feel special, and that goes right back to the experience they have when buying something from you.

Do operations play a part in how you beat out your competition for the sale?

Successful kitchen and bath businesses incorporate aspects of the value they bring to the table because of their operation, and what they do best, into their sales process.  They’ll introduce you to the team (putting a face to the business) that will handle your job.  They’ll engross you in the experience of what it will be like during your remodel.  They’ll point out the systems they use to make sure you’ll be taken care of expertly.  They’ll point out who you’ll call when you have a question.  They’ll introduce you to the installation and warehouse manager.  They’ll create an educational experience that doesn’t overwhelm, but allows you to feel that buying from them is the natural conclusion you shoud come to.

There are many repeat buyers still out there.  All they need is an excuse as to why they should give you their business.  When you look like everybody else (i.e. focusing too much on product), then they’ll invariably see no value in what you bring to the table.

In markets like these, competition is fierce and the cheapest guy can win the deal – which means no one really wins.  The dealership has trouble making money and what was stripped out of the experience for the buyer leaves them feeling like they were treated poorly.  The worst part is the cycle continues as consumers see lower prices for kitchens and begin to believe they actually can get the kitchen of their dreams for a hotdog and some potatoe chips.

Your job is to change the criteria in which your prospects evaluate who is best.  Change the conversation over to things that have little to do with product and everything to do with the experience.

How do I keep from constantly comparing my business to someone else’s?

We’re telling you that you’re in a market where the norm is that most dealers are doing it wrong.  They focus too much on product, they fail to rock the boat and maintain high accountability from their salespeople, and their overall sales and marketing approach is either nonexistent or about 30 years old and incredibly outdated.  They pride themselves on not changing at a time when everything around them is screaming for the need to change.

Why on earth would you want to compare your business to that?

There are plenty of mistakes made in operations in the kitchen and bath industry. Learn about the top 15 and how to avoid them in our free eBook.