cargo freighterCompeting in a tough market like cabinet making is hard enough. But as a cabinet dealer competing with imported products that may be significantly cheaper, you might find yourself wondering what to do. Here are a few ideas to help you find your competitive edge:

Sell Service

You might be worried that you can’t compete on price. The thing is, however, competing on price is rarely, if ever, a wise strategy. It’s far better to offer superior service and value than to try and cut your margins so that you can out price the competition.

Consider bundling other services like free estimates, or build delivery into your cost and offer it as a free incentive. Partner with a designer and offer design advice or find a decorator who is willing to offer their services at a discounted rate to your clients.

Carry a Wider Product Range

As much as it is true that competing on price is dangerous in any business, it’s also true that there are some customers who are just looking for the cheapest options out there.  And that’s okay.

Make sure you carry a range of products that will appeal to a broad customer base. Include a few cheaper items, some middle of the road items, and a few exclusive, designer items. If you become known for your wide range of products you can gain a reputation as a “one stop shop”.  Many prospects will appreciate that they can get everything they need from one vendor to make life easy for them.

Consider a Guarantee

One of the major issues when it comes to buying imported products is that after sales service, warranties and guarantees are often nonexistent, or difficult to enforce.  Learn what you’re selling against and highlight these things when chatting with prospects.  If you want to compete, consider offering your clients a comprehensive quality guarantee and then make sure that you uphold it. Word will get around that you offer a great service and that you’re honest and honor your obligations.

Educate Prospects on the Realities of Imports

Make sure that you’re not just a cabinet dealer, but a specialist. Make sure that your staff knows everything there is to know about cabinetry and how to sell kitchens and baths effectively – and that you offer the very best advice. Not all products are created equal. Sometimes prospects looking for the cheapest product don’t really understand what they are buying. Nor can they visually tell the difference. Get an example import product into your showroom and show your prospects the differences. For example:

  • What kind of quality differences are there? Do you have an inexpensive line that’s in the same ballpark that you can compare to? Even though it is more expensive, some prospects appreciate higher quality.
  • When your prospect resells their home, will the value of their home be impacted when the buyer finds out they chose the cheapest cabinets on Earth?
  • What happens if something breaks or needs to be replaced during the project? Will your competition make their customer wait six weeks until another container arrives? In the world of imports, parts and pieces are an absolute bear to manage. Unless your competitor is stocking excess product, they’ll most likely have scenarios where they fall short in a particular style. That means delays and hiccups on the job site.
  • Cabinet dealers are taking on import lines and dropping them like they’re candy. What happens in three years when your prospect needs to replace a door? Will the Chinese import line still be carried by your competition? What if they need a replacement door down the road – will it even match and will the product still be produced?
  • Look for examples of your competitor’s customers who had nightmare experiences with their import product as it was installed. Use them as examples in your sales process early on.

In other words, educate your prospects on the reality of investing in imported products because you truly care. Let them understand what they are buying. If they want it cheap, you can’t stop them anyhow. But for those prospects that are confused, you can win them over by helping them understand what it is they are buying. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it.

Remember the Patriots

Some people love buying American. Many have witnessed markets being decimated by the overseas factor and still refuse to buy imported products. Buying American and supporting the good old USA is still in vogue. When you find a prospect who believes similarly, highlight where the product is built and the story of how the cabinet manufacturer began. Remember, stories are memorable. They are retold over the kitchen table when guest are over. Stories also sell.

The truth is, with imports coming into the US in every market it’s not only cabinet dealers who are finding it tougher to compete. However, if you’re smart, honest and offer unbeatable products and services, you can compete and flourish. So consider it a challenge – not an obstacle – and look for ways to up your game.

Take the focus off of price and start redefining the message in your market. To learn the top sales mistakes in the industry, download our free ebook now.