Showroom Success: The Green Edition

If you read and implemented the ideas from our Successful Showroom blog post a couple of weeks ago, then you have a clean, well branded showroom. In honor of Earth Day this past Monday, April 22 let’s take it one step further and help your business reduce the waste it generates from daily operations.  Did you know the average American worker produces two pounds of paper and cardboard waste each day and approximately 10,000 sheets of paper waste each year? (www.cleanair.org)  Consider all the copies, disposable coffee cups, shipping boxes and other miscellaneous trash that your company contributes to the massive amount of waste created each day.  To help your business lessen the waste it produces, here are some ideas that are low cost, low hassle and can be as easy as changing a light bulb.

More than Paper and Plastic

At the very least, most businesses now recycle their paper, but what about all the additional items that you and your employees throw away that could easily be recycled?   Cardboard boxes, ink cartridges and glass products are a prime example.   Cardboard boxes in good condition can be reused to ship out other products, and printer ink cartridges only need to be taken to the local office supply store to be returned.

Only about 20% of glass is recycled each year and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing this as well – just collect and take to your local recycling collection plant for sorting.  Some recycling plants will even schedule a monthly pick up, so just call and check with the recycling plants in your area.  The best part is this is easy to set up and utilize in your business.  All you’ll need to do is set up a small area with collection containers and let employees know which products go in each container.  Another added benefit is that you may receive money back for the recycled products, or, in the case of the ink cartridges, discounts towards your future purchases.

Other ways you can supplement your ‘green’ activity in your office: give your employees reusable coffee mugs, and get rid of the Styrofoam cups, which are not biodegradable, or use cups for water instead of bottles of water and make double sided copies when possible.

Around the Showroom

One of the biggest areas of waste will be your showroom, but not in terms of what you are throwing away.  Before you leave each night, take a look at all the electrically powered items left on or plugged in.  You aren’t necessarily throwing anything physical into a trashcan, but you are wasting electricity by leaving on any lights, computers and plugged-in chargers that aren’t being used.  At the end of each day, make sure you and your employees turn off all computers and lights, and unplug all unneeded and unused equipment chargers.  According to www.energy.gov, which reviews and reports on the United States energy usage, you can save around $10,000 in energy usage each year if 10 employees all take the time to turn off lights and computers each night and on the weekend.  With savings like that, you can’t afford not to start turning your showroom green!

Other ways you can supplement reducing waste at your business: turn off water when it’s not in use (and check for faucet leaks), turn off the heating and cooling systems on weekends and switch your light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs.

Now you have a handful of ways to start going green within your showroom and office, but there are a lot of other things you can do to go green each day.  It’s never too late to get started.  For those of you that already implement green techniques, comment below with how your business reduces its waste!

QR Codes and Your Business

The QR, or quick response, code is popping up more each day, and has quickly become a huge trend in today’s marketing.  But, if you don’t know the best way to get started and use them in your marketing, you’ll be lost, so we’ve done the research to help you utilize them to grow your business.

The Basics

The QR Code is essentially a more complex bar code.  A bar code only stores price and product info, is one-dimensional and can only be scanned by a laser scanner.  A QR code is two-dimensional, can be scanned with any scanner with an imaging device, such as a smart phone camera, and can link to any type of information, like videos, maps, contact info and more.

There are a number of free sites that will allow you to create and track your QR code. The ones with the best ratings are www.QRStuff.com, www.GoQR.me and www.QRMobilize.com (plus, many more).  They all offer different options as to what the codes can link to, and some even offer free website mobilization which is crucial.  I would suggest checking out a few options to determine which one best fits your needs.  Also, don’t shy away from using a paid site, which will offer advanced options.  The extra money spent and advanced options in tracking and mobile assistance may be your best option in helping you facilitate and determine the success of your campaign.

Best Practices

Now that you know how to set up your QR codes, it’s time to review the dos and don’ts of utilizing the codes in your advertising.

  1. Mobile Sites: it’s always important to remember to connect your code to a mobile optimized site.  Your potential customers will be scanning these with their smart phones and mobile devices, so connecting them to a full web page will be a logistical nightmare.  When prepping your mobile site, plan something small, like a landing page with opt-in information, instructions, promotions or a video instead of your full informational site.
  2. Size and Space Matters: when planning the usage of your QR code, think about how your users will scan it.  Putting it on your billboard, or on the side of the bus are probably not your best options – how will your potential customers scan them when the bus moves, or when in a moving car?  Magazines, newspapers, flyers and posters are much better options, as your customer will have more opportunity to pull out their device and scan your promotion.  And remember to keep the QR code in proportion to your ad, but large enough for a scanner to read.
  3. Call to Action: one of the biggest mistakes made is that when using a QR code, there is no call to action.  Always place a small line or sentence identifying what the user stands to gain from scanning – it can be as easy as ‘Scan Here for Troubleshooting Information” – so the customer knows what to expect beforehand.

Practical Uses for Your Business

The best part of QR codes is that their uses are virtually endless, and we’ve already thought of a few great options for you to get started using them to grow your business today:

  • Include with new equipment purchases and have the code link to installation instructions or troubleshooting questions.
  • On marketing materials with directions to your location, or special promotional and sales information.
  • Print a QR code on adhesive Avery labels and cover the bar codes for any products, this way customers can’t scan the bar code and find a lower price elsewhere.  You can include anything from sales and contact information to product reviews.
  • Print on the back of your business cards and it will automatically include your contact information in their phone.
  • Include on signage for any special event you will be participating in or hosting, with information on your location within the event, giveaways or add the event to their personal calendar.
  • Include on your advertising in magazines and newspapers with a link to testimonials

Now you are ready to get started.  If you have any questions on using QR codes for your business, feel free to call the DOW Electronics’ Marketing Department and we’ll be more than happy to assist you.  Or, if you are already using QR codes in your advertising, comment with your suggestions and examples below!

Showroom Success

Having a physical store and location for your local customers already puts you ahead of the game – not only can your potential clients put a face with the name, but they can also utilize an expert to get the answer to their questions.  Plus, with today’s market, people love using the neighborhood shop owner, as opposed to the major chains.

But, are you maximizing the potential of your storefront?  You only have one chance to make a good and lasting impression on your potential new customer, so properly setting up your showroom is essential to your selling success.  Take a step back – or better yet, have an outsider (a friend or family member that does not spend day after day within the location) take a look at your showroom.  What is their first impression?  Chances are their first impression will be the same as your customers’ first impression, and if it leaves a sour taste in their mouth, it is time to straighten up and spruce up your display area.

Clear out the Clutter

You may not realize it, but your showroom is probably dirtier than what you think.  Have your outsider assess the cleanliness of your facilities and review the following: floors, windows, shelves and materials used on walls and desks.  If your floors have dust-bunnies and scuffs, take some time each week to clean up!  Wipe your windows of any hand and finger prints, and get rid of any materials that are damaged or outdated.  Replace any old promotional materials with new, professional looking items.  And make sure you get rid of any bulky boxes lying around to make the area neat. Cleaning once a week, as opposed to once a year, will make it easier in the long run – not only will you take pride in your space, the mess of one week is easier to tackle.  Plus, it will be cheaper than doing a complete showroom makeover and renovation!

Brand your Business

When selling to your new customer, you want to make sure they remember you and your business!  Make sure to keep signage around that represents your company, and not just the logos for items you sell – this will ensure people remember where they bought their products, and not what they bought, turning them into repeat business. A part of this does include updating logos when necessary and using a common theme to ‘decorate’ your showroom.  Putting a hodge-podge of posters all over the walls does not scream anything about your business, so include promotional items you have created, or even make posters out of advertisements you have placed in your local publications.  This will ensure your company gets remembered and will allow your customer to make the connection between you and the ads they see in the market.

Successful Sales Counter

Your sales counter is the first and last place you will leave an impression on your customer.  Take a look around – are you using coffee cups as paper clip holders?  Are their stains and dirt marks on the desk?  Or even look at the personal materials that are displayed by each individual worker.  If your sales counter looks unkempt, this could convey a sense of laziness, or lack of caring, which will influence your customer to purchase items elsewhere.

At the end of each day, take ten or fifteen minutes to clean up your daily mess and set yourself up for the next day’s work.  File paperwork in the appropriate place, throw trash out, clean up any messes and put away any items that could be considered offensive or inappropriate.  And while a few personal items are generally okay, keep it to a minimum – the last thing you want to do is engulf your professional area with personal items that may make your customer question your expertise.

Outside the Showroom

One last thing to review is how your shop appears before your customer even walks in the door.  Step outside, and take a look at the parking lot and exterior of your building.  Make sure your parking area is clear of any trash, or other items that could damage a customers’ car (nails, glass, etc.).  Also, repair any parts of your building that are deteriorating, clean any dirt or mold from the exterior and wipe the outside windows.

Ultimately, taking pride and ownership of your showroom is key to a successful business.  If you take care of your display area, customers will be more than happy to continually shop with you, and nothing will do this better than a neat and organized area where they feel comfortable.  So, go on, get to cleaning – and send us before and after pictures of your showroom!

 

New Classes Available on DISH U

Many of you already know I’m a big believer in DISH U. Since the launch of the new DISH U, shortly after Team Summit last year, it’s grown and gotten better.  Readers of the DOW Electronics blog know I’ve written about it and continue to see great value in it.

Most retailers think of DISH U for their DISH-related training and that’s it.  I find that so many are unaware that DISH U also has Professional Development (PD) courses available as well.  These courses cover a wide variety of topics, outside of the DISH world, that retailers and their sales staff can benefit from.

Different course modules are grouped together and called learning tracks.  To access the different learning tracks, from the homepage click on the ‘Training Catalog’ link and then on the ‘Catalog’ tab.

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From here, you will see the overall learning tracks.  Click on the triangle to the left side of the title to expand and see the individual courses within the track.

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Each track consists of courses that can be taken ‘on-demand,’ meaning you can start, stop, and return to the spot where you left off whenever you’re ready to being again.  Most courses take less than an hour to complete.

This past week, DISH U added some new and exciting PD tracks (see the RetailerNews DISH U® Offers New Professional Development Tracks – for FREE! document on  DISHPortal for additional details).  These include new tracks that touch on topics such as Coaching and Communication Skills, Customer Retention Strategies, and Time Management, just to name a few.

Here are three tracks that I recommend taking as soon as possible.  These, along with others on DISH U, can make an immediate impact on your business.

  • Sales Skills Track – This track includes modules on understanding the benefits of consultative selling, conducting a needs analysis, and understanding customer expectations.
  • Customer Service Track – Within this track you’ll learn about ways to earn customer loyalty, manage customer service challenges, and effectively communicate with customers.
  • Social Media Track – Are you a little confused by social media and its place in business today?  This track will help you understand how the two go hand-in-hand.

The professional-quality content you find on DISH U would cost thousands of dollars if paid for out-of-pocket.  Remember, these training courses are designed specifically for the DISH retailer regarding new offers, equipment and day-to-day operations, so I urge you to take advantage of the valuable training resources that DISH provides its retailers.  Plus, there is a DISH U Mobile App, that allows for training on the go!  Announcements will go out as content is refreshed and new modules are added and there is even a news feed that provides current DISH headlines.

If you don’t have a DISH U training account, check with your account administrator.  There are documents on the DISH Portal that explain how to create accounts for either you or your staff.  As always, if I can be of assistance is this regard, please don’t hesitate to respond to this blog or email me directly at training@dowelectronics.com.

What do you think of the new professional development content on DISH U?  Is there anything you’d like to see added to the current roster of training tracks?  Drop us a line in the comments section below!