Remodeling contractors typically see a flurry of kitchen makeover requests during the first quarter of every year that ultimately help increase building supply sales. The reason is simple: prepping holiday meals for family and friends is the surest way of finding flaws in kitchen design and functionality. Those same gatherings may also call out family bathrooms in need of facelifts.
Furthermore, even homeowners who are satisfied with their kitchen or bath may look at the specter of summer gatherings on a crumbling outdoor deck with considerable reservation.
The three remodel projects described above — kitchens, baths and decks — are among the most popular projects targeted by people looking to improve their dwelling or prepare it for an upcoming sale. Whether the work is done by licensed contractors or by the homeowners themselves, remodeling always entails a study of design ideas, colors and fixtures at nearby building materials centers and beyond.
For many Americans, the cost of professional help is beyond their means, so the most capable or most adventurous will turn to do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. The era is ripe for this activity because DIY workshops and how-to videos are ubiquitous. While videos allow homeowners to learn at their leisure, they also deny the opportunity of hands-on learning, especially the safe use of tools and power tools.
Consequently, the traditional in-person DIY workshop is still a viable option for operators looking to reach new consumers and increase building materials sales. We suggest starting with one component of each area (e.g. refinishing kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities and deck framing), keeping things light, providing refreshments, and properly planning the promotion, presentation and follow-up of the entire workshop. Finally, ask a capable person to shoot videos of the workshops and post them on a company YouTube Channel to reach DIYers who prefer distance learning.
Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets
Conducting an online search for “refinishing kitchen cabinets” yields just how popular a DIY project this truly is. We found over 5 million web pages in our search, including useful advice from the likes of HGTV, DIY Network, Kilz and WikiHow and Sunset magazine. Most of these sources review the step-by-step process involved in refinishing kitchen cabinets: from planning and prepping surfaces, to removing and stripping hardware, to filling dents and applying finish coats.
As good as they are, the online videos lack the hands-on experience of a workshop where presenters can demonstrate the ins and outs of each step, and attendees can do a little “test driving.” What is it like to dip hardware in paint stripper? How much pressure is needed for palm sanding? How does one apply finish coat to coving without leaving drips?
After promoting the workshop via instore signage, ads in local newspapers and social media, building supply centers should consider staffing enough qualified employees to provide hands-on learning for all attendees. It would also be beneficial to ask attendees to bring one of their own kitchen cabinet doors to work on during the workshop.
Make sure to have enough tools and materials available for everyone to use as they prep and finish their doors, and have proxy doors available during the various stages to compensate for inadequate drying times or attendees who didn’t bring a door.
Finally, consider inviting factory reps from supply vendors who can help with the demos or even bring complementary supplies. Naturally, such a cooperative marketing arrangement can only foster the business relationship and help the vendor and dealer increase building supply sales.
Some people are so disgusted with their own bathroom vanity that saying the words “bathroom vanity” is enough to conjure an animated response — hopefully a humorous one. (On a related subject, DIY workshops should be fun and anything but stuffy or unapproachable.)
This topic also requires some advanced planning and imagination because attendees won’t be bringing pedestals or vanities to the store.
Consequently, reviewing the various options with attendees via a slide presentation is a great place to start because some bathrooms are too small to accommodate certain changes. For example, replacing a pedestal with a vanity in a small room will add storage options, but it will reduce the amount of open space and maneuverability.
It may also help to segment attendees into one group wanting to refinish an existing vanity and another wanting to replace a vanity or convert from pedestal. The refinishing track would follow a similar path as the one described above for kitchen cabinets while the replace/convert group will discover framing considerations, minor plumbing techniques and countertop options.
Both tracks should culminate with fixture options and how to install them. Again, this is a wonderful opportunity to feature a vendor wanting to increase building supply sales at this particular outlet.
As you may have noticed, each of these topics is focused on a single aspect of construction that can be properly demonstrated within the confines of a two-hour workshop. Thus, only the need-to-know details of deck framing according to local building codes should be covered so that homeowners leave the store feeling confident enough to tackle the project. Even individuals deciding the work is too extensive for them will appreciate acquiring new insight before negotiating with prospective contractors or reviewing estimates.
Speaking of contractors, this would be a wonderful opportunity to have a licensed contractor conduct all or part of the demonstration. Have plenty of visual aids on hand such as forms, piers, joist hangers, lumber, fasteners and tools.
Start with soil assessment and preparation, then move to the basic engineering behind footings and piers, and the importance of properly spaced posts. Finally, finish with perimeter options and rim joists, attaching to other structures such as homes, ledger boards, and how to properly hang joists with galvanized steel ties.
Refinishing kitchen cabinets and working with bathroom vanities is often tedious work, but decking brings out the “commando” in most of us as we use levels, hammer drills and rackets to bolt up a deck.
Have fun teaching while attendees have fun learning, and be sure to always mention the wide assortment of construction materials available at your store. Teaching is a wonderful experience, but ultimately, the focus is on ways to increase building supply sales.
Nailing Down the Sale
CrossCheck has been helping building supply dealers process secure payments since the early 1980s. One particular payment solution, Check on Delivery (COD), is tailor made for building supply sales.
Using the COD enhancement with Standard Check Guarantee, merchants can accept guaranteed checks from homeowners or contractors and garner approval over the phone at the point of sale before depositing the checks. COD even allows order changes as long as the new amount complies with the guarantee limits of the merchant service agreement.
COD is a win-win — merchants receive guaranteed payment in full while customers can order materials and receive shipment without leaving the office or job site. If an approved check is returned from the bank unpaid, it can be submitted to CrossCheck for processing and reimbursement.
Download the free guide to learn how Check on Delivery can help increase sales at your building supply store.