Selling reality

By Ian Price, Retail Installation Manager & BiKBBI Inspector: 

Over the years I have completed upwards of 5,000 site inspections, worked with countless great installers and well over 100 fabulous Design consultants, so it’s safe to say that I’ve been around the block a few times when it comes to installation of kitchen, bedroom and bathroom furniture.

One of the overwhelming things that I have learned is that well over 50% of customer issues begin at point of sale.

What do I mean by that? Let me give you an example.

I once went to a customer service issue where my customer had bought a kitchen for £27,500 then complained that the service and the overall finish was not what they had expected.

The journey they embarked upon to get their dream kitchen installed, after years of waiting and saving, all that time building their own vision of what it would be like through the ever so rose-tinted glasses that customers sometimes wear, was not what they thought it would be.

Furthermore, the finished article wasn’t what they envisaged, it certainly wasn’t what they had told the neighbours and friends in the coffee club they were getting. In fact it wasn’t at all what they thought it would be.

And here’s why.

Just Looking: When the customer first entered the store they were met by a beautifully laid out showroom, well over £250k worth of fixtures and fittings, all fantastically presented with just the right lighting and the perfect accents to complement the lines, colour and feel of the displays. Naturally they were blown away!

The Hook: Sitting quietly in the corner was an experienced design consultant ready and waiting for a new project. The designer made his introductions and began the process. He talked about why they wanted to renew the kitchen and frowned about all the negative points that Mrs Customer said she “absolutely hated and couldn’t possible put with for a minute longer” and reassured her that she was in good hands, and between them they would ensure their project would avoid the challenges.

The Deal: Next, after a home visit, and more assurances about how fantastic the installer was (and he was) the customer was presented with a wonderful, full colour image of their new room.

There was a bowl of fruit, ambient lighting to embellish the beautiful curves of the end units, Amtico style tiles on the floor, new wooden slatted blinds at the window and colour coded paint on the walls to compliment the new cabinets, there were even images of the grandchildren playing in a landscaped garden through the patio doors.

The customers were overwhelmed and the deal was done. They sat back, clutching their now adored colour image to await their new room and stress-free installation.

Reality Bites: Installation day arrives and the customer had no idea they would be without cooking facilities and couldn’t possibly have imagined the number of tradespeople that would be in their home, or the number of vans on the drive and in the road.

The doors were open to the cold winter, the heating was off to move radiators, the water was off to move stop taps, they had to eat out. It was noisy, messy, intrusive and whilst polite, the installers were just getting on with the job. This customer was not accustomed to being around tradespeople and therefore it was all a bit of a culture shock!

Upon completion, the customer enquired why the old the old coving was still up, why only some of the walls were plastered, why the ceiling was not painted and the why some of the old wallpaper was still up.

The unfortunate response was that the installer had completed, to the project plan as sold, but unfortunately this was nothing like the glossy CAD picture the customer was clinging on to.

The Learning: When selling projects that involve an installation, its incredibly important to ensure expectations are set to avoid problems further down the line.

Talk about the inevitable dust, noise, mess and the upheaval. It’s going to happen. It’s normal… but your customer may not know. In my experience, your customer will thank you for your honesty.

Ask about the finish to the rest of the room. Who’s taking care of decoration as an example. Ensure all parties know what is and what isn’t included in the sale.

Respect your customer and recognise that this may very well be their first home improvement project. Trust me, they will undervalue the importance of a kitchen, bedroom or bathroom and the reality of temporarily losing it will only sink in when the installer is mid-install and up to his/her elbows in organised chaos. Be transparent with them and I’m sure they will respect you for it (& recommend you on the back of it).

A quote from Dolly Parton and something you can use in your script…

“If you ‘wanna’ see a rainbow, you ‘gotta’ put up with the rain”.

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