Adding Muscle
July 1st, 2007

by Janet Arden, Editor

July-August 2007

I just made a list of all the One-on-One interviews that have appeared in these pages since TileDealer launched with the November/December issue in 2003. Twenty-two interviews and counting! We have included business, design, and industry leaders, manufacturers and artisans, an architect, a color consultant and a remodeling professional. Our subjects have answered questions from as far away as Turkey, Spain & Italy and as close as a Chicago workroom.

Of course they all have tile (and sometimes stone) in common as well as a willingness to share their expertise and industry insights with TileDealer readers. We especially appreciate that. They are also universally open-minded and willing to try a new approach. This is especially valuable in a tough marketplace.

This issue features a conversation with Ron Williamson, Marketing Services Director at Ironrock. Like so many of the One-on-One subjects, Ron did not start out planning to make a career in the tile industry. In the almost 20 years he has been at Ironrock, the company and the marketplace have evolved considerably.

Some of his most intriguing comments had to do with his thoughts on the marketplace now and in the future. Like many professionals in this business, Ron sees the current slump in the housing market as an opportunity for renovators and commercial sales.

At TileDealer, we couldn’t agree more. There are many options—some short term and others that may become part of your business culture—to get through these frustrating times. One antidote is to beef up the sales you have—not with inflated prices, but with more value. This issue offers two great specifics:

  • Make your sales floor more profitable by adding some quality tools (See the Showroom Seminar on page 33).
  • Get knowledgeable about soundproofing and sell it as an affordable amenity, one that is a valuable investment in a tile installation (Learn more starting on page 16).

But tools and soundproofing are just a beginning. You can also consider the following:

  • Undertile heating is an easy, affordable upgrade. Identify the right pros to make the electrical connections and sell the package.
  • Introduce cleaning and resealing services, perhaps even tied to a warranty.
  • Offer a bounty for customer referrals—anything from a savings certificate for future use to a gift certificate to a local restaurant.
  • Invite your best customers to an open house, complete with refreshments, to preview your latest product introductions or for a private sale.
  • Get your suppliers in on the fun by inviting them to offer free seminars on their products to your customers.

Most of you know the drill here—get potential customers in the door, build loyalty, offer great service. Sure all of these suggestions will cost some time and money, but isn’t that better than just waiting for customers to show up?

Read more about Ron, Ironrock and his thoughts on the industry on page 29.

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