How well do you know your customers?

A snapshot of Mr. X, a showroom manager

Mr. X views Interior and Sources as one his top 5 industry trade publications, the others being Floor Trends, Contract, EDC, and Flooring News/Floor Covering Weekly.

Mr. X’s business philosophy is that you stand out by knowledge, so he keeps old copies of these magazines, tears out ads to keep on file in his “system.” He prefers reading and using magazines to source new products and information, but also uses the Internet. For him, magazine ads provide a clearer picture of a product than the online. “It’s also tangible,” he says. “It costs money to be in a magazine.”

Mr. X assumes that when you send back a business reply card filled-out with product requests – you expect to get something back. He said, “You would probably be surprised at how much requested information I do NOT receive,” he points out. “It’s like they [manufacturers] don’t really care about giving me what I ask for. So I use something else.”

A former vice president of a large Washington DC Flooring Firm, Mr. X recently relocated to a major city in the Midwest and started his own company. He operates two showrooms and has been in the flooring industry for 20 years, offering residential and commercial flooring.

Mr. X directs his attention to the commercial side of business, with projects in education, assisted living, court houses, healthcare and other commercial facilities. He knows he is in competition with larger flooring firms in his city, but his goal is to become the largest flooring firm in the region. Many manufacturer reps are not apt to call within his territory, with the exception of the one from Johnsonite Flooring. “This is why I depend on hard copy information to keep up with trends in the industry,” he says. “I read online, but there’s nothing like having a hard copy in my hands.”

In fact, some of the information Mr. X requested (and did not receive) was for lines he would liked to have carried. “I’m always looking to expand the service offerings,” he said. He gives an example of how he requested ceiling information from Armstrong recently, and added commercial painting to his business line. “We also offer window coverings,” he said. “In one situation when I didn’t receive the information on window coverings, I went with a competitor that I found in the magazine as well. I was unable to reach the manufacturer.”

Mr. X lives in a rural area about 45 minutes outside of a major city. He maintains a home office and has his magazines directed to his home address, keeping the showroom’s separate. Mr. X subscribes to 20-25+ publications and prides himself on keeping up to date with his industry.

When we asked him about the term “literature collector,” he laughed on the phone. “It’s funny you ask that,” he said. “When manufacturers do follow up – which is rare in itself – and we get to talking, the conversation usually ends quickly because I tell them I’m just collecting some information. No one really pushes back, you know, and tries to find out more about my business. You’re one of the first companies that has called to do that, and you’re not selling any product. I did $10M last year, so maybe they think I’m small potatoes, but that can’t be it either. They never ask my sales volume.”

Mr. X does see reps in his showroom and has excellent relationships with many of them. “But business is business, isn’t it,” he asks? “If I just called on my regular customers, how would I maintain my business? You need new customers – always.”

Mr. X is planning on adding the marketing tactics of Facebook, Blogging and Twitter. He is in the process of working on his website. He draws customers in by word of mouth, former customers who worked with in the past are also asking him to respond to their bid work.

Do you know YOUR customers? Comment on our blog, or better yet, call us to find out how we can help you find out more about YOUR customers! Thanks for reading!

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