Use Special Events to Boost Your Business Page 4 Hosting the BIG Event
Also in this Issue: DoMoreWithRental Page10 Market Preview Page16 MerchandiseReview Page22
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THE PRESIDENT’S REPORT
Time for a Checkup
W e all know the wisdom of going to the few simple observations if we’re healthy or if there are some problems that need to be addressed. The sooner we get those problems fixed, the longer we’ll stay healthy and happy. Your business isn’t much different. When was the last time you gave your store a checkup? doctor, even if we don’t go as often as we should. Doctors know how to tell just by a
Contents Hosting the Big Event pg. 4 Read ideas for special events that can build excitement around your store. pg. 10 Do you know how Blish-Mize can help you get started in the rental business? pg. 16 Find new opportunities and big savings at the Blish-Mize 2013 Spring Buying Market, coming on March 22-23. pg. 22 Ask yourself these questions as you review your assortments andmerchandising. PartScription pg. 26 Learn how a niche in parts and supplies can boost your sales. pg. 30 Read how four manufacturers have led the industry. On the Cover: Mike and Lisa Unterreiner of Hartman Hardware in Shawnee, Kan. Cash in on Rental Market Preview Merchandise Review Industry Leaders
There are a lot of vital signs you shouldn’t ignore. For example, low average transaction sizes may indicate customers aren’t finding the whole project and maybe it’s time to revisit your assortments or your merchandising. Products that haven’t sold in a while may indicate you need to do a line review and dump outdated merchandise. Let me suggest that, no matter how healthy you think your business might be, you take some time this year to take your store to the retail doctor. Blish-Mize has some tools to help. Think of our Retail Profit Management system (our RPM) as the doctor’s toolkit where you’ll find everything you need to give your store an honest, head-to-toe evaluation. For example, when was the last time you evaluated your market to see if there were product categories you were missing? What about pricing: are you priced competitively while still getting the maximum margin? Are you missing sales because of poor merchandising? Are your assortments outdated? To stay competitive in today’s marketplace, you need to be asking yourself these, and more, questions continually. The RPM program covers all the vital parts of your business, including product assortment, pricing strategy, advertising, inventory management, store design and employee training. At the upcoming Spring Buying Market we want you to see for yourself how you can use some of these tools, so we’re bringing back the “mini-store.” At the last Market, we introduced the mini-store and filled it with our best assortments in the Lawn and Garden and Paint categories. This spring, we’re highlighting key assortments from the Plumbing and Electrical categories. I also encourage you to think about products or services you’re not offering, but could be. In this issue of Hardlines Strategies , we highlight two important programs. The first is Rental. Rental fits naturally into your store because your customers likely need to rent tools, so why send them somewhere else? Our program is completely customizable to fit your needs. The second is PartScription. With PartScription, you have access to millions of repair parts. You already specialize in helping customers fix their homes; it’s a natural fit to help them fix other items around the home, like appliances, lawn and garden equipment, and HVAC systems. These programs are all part of the way we’re helping you diversify and grow your business. Start checking the vital signs of your business. Take advantage of all the opportunities Blish-Mize has to offer. Start planning now for a healthy and pros- perous year. See you at the Market!
Advertising Information Hardlines Strategies is published twice every year by Blish-Mize. Copyright 2013. For advertising rates and deadlines, please contact:
Hosting the Big Event Try Promotions and Events to Boost Your Business H osting a special event in your store can generate excitement, get
Finding those products that draw customers in the door is easy. Just head to the Blish-Mize Spring Buying Market, where discounted prices give you many options for promotional items. Then, you’ll need to find that creative idea for an event that will resonate with your customers. As the spring season approaches, now’s the time plan your next big event, and a few ideas from other Blish-Mize customers can get you started. Calling All Cars Mike Unterreiner loves his ’69 Camaro and enjoys seeing other classic cars, too. However, as owner of Hartman Hardware in Shawnee, Kan., he doesn’t get the opportunity to go to a lot of car shows, which are usually held on Saturdays. He also knows there are a lot of other business owners in town in similar positions. His solution: start a local car show and hold it on a Sunday. Not only would he be able to bring car enthusiasts together, but he would also have an event that would draw people downtown to local businesses like his. Unterreiner brought his idea to the Shawnee Downtown Business Association new customers to visit your store and help you connect with other local businesses. It’s also a great time to promote products and offer special buys.
Several local Shawnee, Kan., businesses, including Hartman Hardware, participate in an annual car show, which includedmore than 350 cars last year.
(SDBA), where he is a member, and the association agreed to take responsibility for the event. Eight years later, the car show is still going strong. “The first year, we had 100 cars,” Unterreiner says. “Since then, we’ve averaged 350 vehicles each year.” The show brings in car enthusiasts from several surrounding towns. Unterreiner, who chairs the SDBA committee in charge of the event, works with the city to shut down streets for several blocks around the store. “We have cars lining both sides of the street,” he says, “then the people pack in to see them.” Food trucks park along the street, and Unterreiner gets a permit from the city so beer can be served to participants and spectators. Each year, all the downtown businesses sponsor the show, and it has become
an event everyone is proud of. “We don’t have to solicit businesses to help anymore; they usually call us and want to be a part of it,” he says. SDBA donates all money raised from the event to local charities. “The car show has worked well for us,” Unterreiner says. “It’s brought more attention to our store—we’ve picked up some new customers, and so have the other businesses who have helped with it.” Ladies Only Builders in Kearney, Neb., wanted to find a way to pull more female shoppers into the store. So last year, Ginger Schmidt, advertising and marketing manager at the store, organized two Ladies’ Nights.
4 Spring 2013 • Hardlines Strategies
The spring event focused on lawn and gardening, and the November night focused on Christmas projects. The first event brought in more than 650 visitors, she says. “We brought in a dozen vendors— everything from cabinets to flooring— and they offered demonstrations and short how-to segments,” Schmidt says. Staff at Builders handed out goodie bags to the first 200 customers in the line, and there were drawings for prizes all night long. At the Christmas event, they gave each attendee a checklist of all the vendors that were there so each customer could be sure to visit all the booths. To advertise the event, Schmidt used circular advertising and created an in-store contest for the employees. They personally handed customers an invitation, which the guest presented when they arrived at the event. The employee with the most invited customers who showed up at the event received a prize. • Advertise the event by using the On-Demand advertising program from Blish-Mize. Through this program’s AdBuilder tool, you can customize the content of your circulars to include information about the event several weeks in advance so your customers can make plans to attend. As the time of the event gets closer, use the circular to advertise any sale items you plan to offer. If you want to know more about the On-Demand program, see Jody Maude, advertising and communications manager for Distribution America, at the upcoming Blish- Mize Spring Buying Market. Advertising Your Event One critical stage of planning an event is advertising it. Here are some ways to get the word out.
The first Ladies Night event at Builders last year drew more than 650 guests to the store.
• Post a banner on your store’s website advertising the event. So visitors can quickly access information about sale items at the event, use the AdViewer program from Blish-Mize to post the circular on your website too. • Use social media sites to get out the information. Post regular updates on Facebook. In advance of Ladies Night, staff at Builders posted regular customers could expect at the event. When it was all over, they posted photos of the event for customers to share. • Send email invitations to customers. You’ll have a head start on compiling an email list if reminders on the store’s Facebook page, including some sneak peeks of what
you’re using the Repeat Rewards loyalty program from Blish-Mize, which collects emails from your best customers. • Get other community organizations or businesses involved so they can share the cost of advertising and get your message to a larger audience. Unterreiner is part of a local business association, where he finds partnerships for special events. “The more involved you are, the more people you get to know,” he says. • Get your employees involved and excited about the event so they can talk it up among your customers. Give them all the details of the event so they feel like they are fully involved and feel some ownership in its success.
6 Spring 2013 • Hardlines Strategies
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“This event was a good way to get female customers in and increase their interest in what we have,” Schmidt says. She says she also spotlighted a few popular projects that she had posted on the store’s Pinterest site by stocking the store’s endcaps with the necessary materials to do those projects. Schmidt says she plans to build on the momentum of last year’s events. “We learned a lot from the first one,” Schmidt says. “We plan to offer sales and hand out coupons to bring customers back to the store for any products they didn’t purchase on the spot.” Staff at the store also created a survey to find out what their customers would want at the next Ladies’ Night. Salute to Veterans A special event isn’t the only way to say thank you to your customers. The staff at Randall Lumber in Taos, N.M., show their appreciation to their customers who have served in the military with a special discount. But it’s a little different than other discounts out there. Veterans and active service men and women who shop at the store receive a discount in the form of sales tax for a purchase of any size. There are signs in the store advertising the discount—which is a little more than 8 percent—and Paula Randall Ervin, co-owner and general manager, says they do some radio advertising as well. Customers just have to ask for the discount and show an ID proving they’re a veteran or currently active in the military. “We have a few veterans who work for us,” Ervin says, “and we’re a small community and know a lot of people who have served our country, and we thought we’d like to do something to say thank you.” A Great Day for Golf After chatting with a golf pro while playing a round of golf one day, Michael Pelster, secretary-treasurer, of the Ogallala, Neb., location of Kildare Lumber, decided to offer a golf scramble for the company’s
sales team and some customers, including contractors and suppliers. “I threw the event together, not sure what we’d get,” Pelster says. “I ended up with 108 golfers.” That was nearly 10 years ago. Pelster will hold the 10th annual Kildare Classic this September. “Ever since then, we’ve usually gotten 144 golfers—that’s our cutoff number,” he says. The Kildare Classic is an invite-only event that rotates between three local golf courses. It’s held at the end of September, when the weather is still nice but when contractors are ready for a break near the end of their busy season. The event includes plenty of prizes, too, which suppliers donate. A different supplier sponsors each hole. “On the first hole, we see who can hit the longest drive with the club provided, and there are prizes for every hole,” Pelster says. “Some prizes are for bad golfers. Last year, the last-place team got golf lessons. “It’s a fun event,” Pelster says. “How often do you get to meet up with your top customers and do something like this? It’s probably one of our best events.” at a nearby fishing hole and provide lunch and prizes for the biggest catch. • Have a dinner for your con- tractor customers. This event works well around Christmas or in the winter when their schedules might be slower. • If one of your major vendors has a factory nearby, take key cus- tomers there on a field trip. This will increase your customers’ loyalty to your key vendors. • Hold a knife show or knife swap event. It’s a natural fit if you have a niche in knives and will More Ideas that Work • Hold a fishing tournament for your customers. Sponsor a day
draw collectors and enthusiasts from neighboring towns. • If you have a large parking lot, set aside a Saturday for a farm- ers’ market and invite local farmers and gardeners to sell their produce. It’s a good time to promote canning supplies and other cooking and food preservation items. • Invite children to a build-it- yourself workshop day. Show them how to assemble a simple project, like a birdhouse or a planter box. Time the event around Mother’s Day or Father’s Day so the assembled project becomes a gift.
Employees at Builders post project ideas on the store’s Pinterest page, then use endcaps to highlight projects along with the items needed to complete it.
8 Spring 2013 • Hardlines Strategies
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Cashing in on Rental How Blish-Mize Can Keep Your Rental Business Profitable
They will also tell you rental is one of the best investments they have ever made. It was easy for the brothers to get started, too, thanks to the partnership their wholesaler Blish-Mize has with MTA Distributors. MTA offers complete product selection, support and training; everything the brothers needed when they added rental to their store. If you’re just starting out in rental or you need help building the category, Blish-Mize and MTA offer big advantages over other rental programs. Make sure you are taking advantage of all they have to offer. Rental is a Hot Category By getting into the rental business, you’re tapping into one of the hottest categories in retailing today. Rental can increase your margins, increase customer traffic and bring new customers into your store. “Given the state of the economy in the past few years, a lot of stand-alone rental stores have gone away because Hill, Mo., and you quickly realize brothers Frank and Brian Dinges have invested a lot of money in the rental business. Rental items are on display anywhere they can find a place for them: upstairs in the showroom, downstairs in the basement and outside the store in another building. L ook around Dinges Hardware and Rental in Pleasant
Frank Dinges of Dinges Hardware and Rental started offering rental five years ago. Now his selection includes everything from hand tools to large construction equipment.
Start at Your Own Pace As you’re getting started in rental, MTA allows you to make as big or as small of an investment as you want. Some retailers start small and gradually add more. The program with MTA is completely customizable. It does offer a suggested start-up package applicable for just about any hardware or lumber retailer; however, you can pick and choose the items you can afford and for which you have space. “We’ve had many retailers start out with just a pressure washer, then the next month add another tool,” Ammerman says. “That saves them from laying out a lot of money all at once. Some customers
they weren’t diverse enough,” says Mark Ammerman, sales development at MTA. “Hardware and rental is a perfect fit. Customers looking for rental items are coming to your store anyway.” The rate of rental is increasing, too. The American Rental Association (ARA) fore- casts revenue growth for the rental equip- ment industry will outperform the general economy in 2013. It predicts industry rev- enue from rental will grow 7.6 percent to reach $33.5 billion this year. In addition, homeowners looking to save money are doing more jobs around the house themselves, which means they will likely need more tools. Contractors looking to save money may also be renting tools instead of buying them.
10 Spring 2013 • Hardlines Strategies
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Buy Quality Tools Every day a rental tool is sitting in your store is a day it’s not making money for you. It makes a lot of sense to have quality tools that can hold up to the strain of continual use and abuse rent- ers are likely to inflict, all while having very few breakdowns. The only way to accomplish that is to buy quality tools. “Don’t skimp and buy cheap,” says Witt, “always buy rental quality equip- ment.” That’s one of the reasons he and retailers like him buy their rental equip- ment from MTA. MTA has heavy-duty equipment designed for the rigors of rental. While the upfront investment in the rental drill or pressure washer, for example, is more than it is for similar items you’ll sell off the shelf, tools made for rental will be more reliable and will pay for them- selves quickly.
will just pick two or three tools that complement items they already sell. We’re very flexible to start at whatever level you want to start. It’s not a cookie- cutter approach.” Get Complete Training When Frank Dinges started exploring the rental category, he visited other retail- ers with rental and asked lots of ques- tions. He also attended an MTA training seminar. Training classes from MTA, held at its corporate offices in Whites Creek, Tenn., give you everything you need to know to get started in rental and help you avoid some of the common mistakes that can cost you a lot of money down the road. In addition to learning how to run the rental business, you’ll need to learn how to use each piece of equipment. One great way to learn is to take it home and try it out for yourself. Encourage your employees to take each piece of new equipment for a test run, too. Keep instruction manuals handy so employees can refer to them quickly. If you rent to a lot of do-it-yourselfers, be prepared to give customers complete tutorials on how to use the machines they’re going to rent. Be prepared to take phone calls from customers who have a machine at home but need additional guidance using it. Remember, it’s in your best interest to do whatever you can to keep your customers from getting frus- trated and damaging a machine. Diversify Your Selection When you use the rental program from Blish-Mize and MTA, you have access to a diverse selection of products so you can stock what your customers want. Bryan Witt, of Gregory Lumber in Gregory, S.D., got into rental eight years ago because the nearest rental yard was 30 miles away and he saw a lot of his custom- ers driving out of town to do business. He started renting just a few tools and expand- ed as he listened to what his customers wanted. “Our policy is if we get three or four requests for a product, we’ll try to get it,” he says. “It’s a lot easier having all of
the equipment and accessories I need in one place. I don’t have to keep track of separate vendors, and anything I buy from MTA I can bill through Blish-Mize.” As Witt listened to his customers, he also learned they would rent more than just tools. He recently started party rental, which includes tables and chairs for 200 people and an enclosed trailer to haul them. Party rentals can also include bounce houses, popcorn machines and cotton can- dy machines. The more diverse your rental selection, the more diverse of an audience you will draw, which means a lot of new customers may discover your store. Some years, certain items will be more popular than others. “For a while, floor sanders were popular and we rented our compactor a lot last year when paver pati- os were popular. It just depends on what the trend of the times is,” Dinges says.
When you use the rental program from Blish-Mize and MTA, you have access to a diverse selection of products so you can stock what your customers want.
Bryan Witt’s rental selection is diverse. While he rents some large items, like construction equipment, he also rents smaller power tools and party equipment.
12 Spring 2013 • Hardlines Strategies
Receive Complete Support Buying from MTA also assures you will have complete support in maintaining your equipment so it’s always rental ready. Dinges and his staff perform a complete maintenance inspection on every machine that comes back from a customer. They start it up and clean air filters, fill fluids and repair any broken parts. On the occasion a machine needs a repair, Dinges and his staff perform their own service work, which saves the cost of sending a machine to a shop. He also has the confidence they can tackle most any repair because of the support they receives from MTA. “The guys at MTA are very good,” he says. “If you have a question or problem with a machine, you can call their service department and they can give you an answer to any question you might have.” The service staff at MTA can walk you through the diagnosis and repair of anything that might go wrong with a machine. They can also ship any repair part you need. Sell the Complete Project Employees throughout your store need to be well versed in project selling. A customer might start with a request for a piece of rental equipment, or he might start in another area of the store. Either way, you want any customer tackling a
large project to get everything he needs— both the rental item and the other items for the project—at your store. Train employees to know the add- on sales that go with every tool rental. Each rental item may also have specific accessories that you’ll sell with the rental, such as sandpaper, drill bits or carpet cleaner chemicals. Merchandise these items near the rental equipment. To make sure you are ready for proj- ect sales, use Blish-Mize’s RMS tool to review your assortments. See Page 22 for more information. Advertise It Don’t expect customers to know you have rental: Get the message out loud and clear. Don’t make the mistake of keeping rental items at the back of the store without any signage to advertise the service. When it’s not out on the job, display equipment in a prominent place in the store. If you have a lift, for example, raise it and park it outside. If you rent a bounce house, set it up outside so it catches the attention of passersby. If you have a popcorn machine for rent, use it to serve popcorn in the store. Witt uses his store’s website to adver- tise rental items. Many customers would rather research online to see where they can rent a particular item.
“We also advertise rental in our sales flyer,” says Witt. “It’s a great way of sharing with customers what we have.” With the On-Demand advertising pro- gram from Blish-Mize, you have the flexibil- ity to feature rental items in your circulars. This is a great way to communicate to customers that you have everything they need to finish their projects. For example, during the spring as you advertise mulches and lawn tools for starting up a garden, also include that you can rent tillers. The flexibil- ity of the AdBuilder program allows you to include the specific items you stock and that are popular among your customers. Another great way to advertise your rental category is to add rental to your store name, like Dinges did when he changed the store’s name to Dinges Hardware and Rental. Most shoppers generally know what types of items they can buy at a hardware store, but they might not automatically associate your store with rental. Enhancing your name can be part of a rebranding pro- cess that trains your customers to think of you first when they need rental items. Start Your Rental Business For more information on how you can get started in the rental business, contact your Blish-Mize sales representative. Or, visit MTA Distributors in booth #908 at the upcoming Blish-Mize Spring Buying Market.
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It’s Market Time! Find More Ways to Save at the Blish-Mize Spring Buying Market, March 22-23 A re you looking for a way to boost your margins and get the
“Henderson’s show is going to be a half magic, half motivational performance,” Communications Director Blish Connor says. “Devin really believes that all of us have the ability to make magic happen by putting our minds toward our goals. I think it is a great way to kick off 2013 and especially the spring selling season!” Special Promotions The savings you’ll get at the Market won’t be a card trick, either. There is real money to win. One of those opportunities will be at the Lunch of Profits Buying Events on both Friday and Saturday. On each of these days, there will be cash giveaways totaling $5,000. To be eligible, place orders with the coupons found in the pages of this issue of Hardlines Strategies , then enter the drawing for one of the cash prizes.
Friday evening, just before the barbecue dinner, there will be a special beer and wine reception in the mini-store area. Assortments for sale in the mini-store will be heavily discounted throughout the show, but this is your chance to reduce the price even more. Once you’ve selected an assortment to buy, come to the reception to receive one scratch-off ticket that can earn you an additional 5-, 10- or 20-per- cent off the selected assortment. On Saturday morning, there will be a similar promotion. Immediately after the breakfast and Chris Cakes Pancake Challenge, come to the Assortment of Savings event where you’ll find discounted prices on more than 60 vendor assort- ments. Choose the assortment you want and try your luck again with a scratch-off ticket that can earn you an additional $5, $10 or $20 SPIFF.
The Spring Market is Blish-Mize’s biggest of the year, and, as a result, there will be some big promotions and exciting opportunities for you. Vendors from across the industry will be on hand to discuss their product lines and show off their hot new products for 2013. Don’t miss this opportunity to get the latest and greatest new products into your store before your competition does. The Market is also a great opportunity to meet with fellow retailers and exchange ideas about your business. Blish-Mize personnel will also be there to answer questions and listen to what you have coming up next in your business. No Market would be complete without some time to relax, so this year’s customer appreciation event will start with a meal catered by Jack Stack Barbecue. The theme for the evening is magic. Magician and speaker Devin Henderson will present his magic and mind reading show “Put Your Mind To It.” After that, you can hit the dance floor with music from one of Kansas City’s most popular DJs. Buying Market, March 22-23 at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park, Kan. best ideas for improving your business in 2013? Then get ready to head to the Blish-Mize Spring
16 Spring 2013 • Hardlines Strategies
Find More at the Mini-Store At the Fall Market last year you got your first look at the mini-store. This area, front and center on the Market floor, showcases some of Blish-Mize’s best assortments and merchandising ideas, arranged in a model-store format. While in the rest of the Market you may see a lot of individual vendors, the mini-store will show you how Blish-Mize can help you put them all together. This Market, the focus of the mini- store will be on updated assortments in the plumbing and electrical departments. “During much of my recent travel, several customers expressed interest in updating these departments, so we’re highlighting these categories at the Spring Market,” says Doug Long, Blish-Mize vice president of sales and marketing. Because no two stores are the same, you’ll have the option of 2-, 4-, 8-, 12- or 16-foot assortments in each of the plumbing and electrical categories. “These assortments will give our customers ideas of how we can create the best assortments for their stores,” says Don Miller, Blish-Mize marketing manager. “Through the RMS process, we can shop their markets to find what assortments they should be strong in. We can back that up with a signage program, endcap program, shelf talkers and promotions. All of that will be available in the model store, along with great prices to get started.” The store will also feature the Hardware House line, Blish-Mize’s private label products that offer quality, value and a good margin. “We’ll have the updated Hardware House assortments with a special emphasis on builders hardware and wire-goods assortments,” Long says. Besides product assortments, the mini- store will also spotlight the many programs and services Blish-Mize has to offer: • Signage. Every store needs clear signage if it’s going to be an inviting place to shop. See how Blish-Mize can help you design a low-cost, totally customizable sign program for your store. • Retail services. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to start saving time and
Schedule of Events: Friday, March 22, 2013 9 a.m. Market Opens 10-11 a.m.
Seminar: “Rough Plumbing and the New Lead-Free Laws”
Saturday, March 23, 2013 7:30-8 a.m.
Breakfast & Chris Cakes Pancake Challenge
Assortments of Savings Event
8:30 a.m. Market Opens 9:30-10:30 a.m. Seminar: “Rough Plumbing and the New Lead-Free Laws” 12-1 p.m. Lunch 12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch of Profits Buying Event 1:30-2:30 p.m. Seminar: “Keys to Converting Bad Debt into Cash” 2:45 p.m. Strategies Coupon Cash Drawings 3 p.m. Market Closes
money by investing in a computerized POS system. There will be several vendors there from which to choose. To make the ordering process even easier, check out the Remote Order Entry unit, now with updated software. • RPM. Retail Profit Management is a comprehensive program that covers market analysis, assortment planning, pricing, store design and more. If it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed this program, ask one of the Blish-Mize representatives to show you what it can do for your store. Easier Advertising After you’ve browsed the mini-store, stop by the Retail Services booth to learn about the new enhancements to the Blish- Mize AdStudio ad creation program.
“These updates represent the best upgrade to our state-of-the-art software to date,” says Jody Maude, advertising and communications manager for Distribution America. “Now it’s easier than ever to create circulars, fliers and new ads. New functionality allows you to add items, call outs, text and line lists without the confinements of the selected layout.” As a bonus to signing up for the Blish-Mize On-Demand Advertising program, you’ll also find ways to integrate your promotions into your social media sites, using the AdViewer module, at no additional charge. Information on the print programs, the New Mover program, the Repeat Rewards loyalty program and the website program will be available at the booth.
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Informative Seminars Finally, you won’t want to miss the educational seminars offered at the Market. They will each be offered twice, at different times throughout the Market, to make it easier to schedule around everything else you have to do. If you’ve had questions about the new lead-free regulations that have already had an effect on your plumbing department, then come to the seminar “Rough Plumbing and the New Lead- Free Laws.” Shawn O’Connor from WATTS will conduct this seminar, which will be held on Friday and Saturday. If you’re struggling with your accounts receivables, did you know you might be able to still collect bad debts, even after you’ve written them off? Todd Elliott, from ICS National Collection Service, will lead a seminar “Keys to Converting Bad Debt into Cash.”
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COME BY THE MILWAUKEE ® BOOTH #619 TO LEARN ABOUT THE LATEST IN INNOVATIVE CORDLESS TECHNOLOGY
Merchandise Review Building Your Perfect Product Mix Starts at the Blish-Mize Mini-Store P roduct assortment and merchandising go hand-in-hand in
creating a successful retail strategy. Your assortments need to be relevant and up-to-date, but the merchandising and signage in your store also need to be arranged in such a way that they encourage shoppers to shop more. Last year Blish-Mize introduced a mini- store layout at the front of the Spring Buying Market to show you profitable assortments in key categories and to get you thinking about the important elements of an effective retail presentation, such as clear signage and promotional displays. As you take the time to browse the mini-store at the Spring Market, use it as a springboard for asking yourself questions about the product assortment and presen- tation at your own store. Look for ways to make improvements this year. As I determine my product mix, am I listening to my pro customers? If you’re going to build an excellent assortment of products, start by listening to your pro customers. Marvin Munger, owner of Munger Paint and Wallpaper in Oklahoma City, Okla., for example, didn’t build a successful paint store overnight. He’s had more than 35 years of listening to customers, asking them what brand names
At the Buying Market last fall, the mini-store included vendor-focused assortments in the paint category. This spring, the mini-store will focus on the plumbing and electrical categories.
they prefer, what tools work best and what specialty products they need for certain jobs. “We can’t stock everything,” Munger says, “so we listen to our professional cus- tomers and see what they use and find out why they like that particular tool. That’s what we stock, and usually when our do-it- yourselfer customers find out that’s the tool the pros use, they want to use it too.” Have I used Blish-Mize’s RMS tool? Not everyone has the advantage of Munger’s years of experience, however, so that’s why he believes Blish-Mize has the tools to help find the right product mix for a store. “Blish-Mize has people on staff with expertise in specific categories.
If you tell Blish-Mize you want to develop your paint department (for example), then they will make the commitment to help you do that.” When Home Hardware reset its store in Great Bend, Kan., store manager Vince Friess says Blish-Mize helped his store plan out every assortment so it would fit the needs of the local market. “We went over every category, line by line,” he says. “We ended up expanding several categories to better serve the needs of our customers. We wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without help from Blish-Mize.” Blish-Mize offers this help with the Retail Merchandising System (RMS) assortment planning tool. This tool gives
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you an expert perspective on whether the items and brands you’re carrying are right for your market. The process goes all the way down to the details of how you’re using peg-hook and shelf space. Should a certain product be getting more than one facing? Should it be lower, or higher, on the display? Brand name items, especially those with a reputation for high quality, will likely anchor your categories. “Consumers are educated on name brands,” Munger says. “They understand and recognize a quality brand.” But even though he tilts his product mix heavily toward the high-quality tools he knows professional and many do-it- yourself customers want, Munger includes an economy line with his assortments. Having a range of price points available means you will appeal to more customers. Do I have a mix of good-better-best items?
Are Your Numbers Healthy? One of the classic measurements of a store’s productivity is Sales Per Square Foot. A low number could be an indication you need to make some changes to your assortments or merchandising strategy. You can check your store’s Sales Per Square Foot number by comparing it to numbers in the Cost of Doing Business study from the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA). Every year, NRHA surveys hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards across the country and creates a report of average numbers on those stores’ balance sheets. These numbers serve as benchmarks for your own business. If your numbers are lower than the indus- try average, then it’s time to start thinking about how you can raise them. Sales Per Square Foot = Net Sales/Square Feet of Selling Area Typical High-Profit Hardware Stores $146 $178 Home Centers $268 $247 LBM Outlets $432 $666
Source: NRHA 2012 Cost of Doing Business study
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You can always try to upsell to the better product, even if the customer comes in asking for the least expensive. Do I have C, D and E items in my assortment mix? A and B items move off the shelf the fastest, and they have the highest price sensitivity. But it’s those more unusual items that will give you the reputation as the place that has everything. For example, if you have a comprehensive line of power tool accessories, you’re likely to have some items that don’t sell all of the time. However, you’ll quickly become known as the destination for power tool accessories because customers know they can find what they need at your store. Have I reviewed my inventory to eliminate redundant and dead items? The best way to tell if an item hasn’t moved in a while is to check your POS system. If you don’t have a regular habit of doing this, use the time just before you come to the Market to check each category in the store for items that haven’t sold in while. Check with vendors to make sure you have the most current models so you aren’t selling outdated merchandise.
American Retail Hardware Association conducted a study called “Merchandising for Profit” that revealed how you could increase sales of an item just by placing it in a certain type of display. Temporary dump bins, for example, garnered a sales increase of as much as 427 percent. Power aisle stack displays could increase sales of an item by 98 percent. Look around the store for opportunities for other types of displays, including permanent dump bins, rolling racks with signs, service counter displays, checkout displays and stack displays. Do I have clear signage that makes it easy for customers to shop? Good signage allows customers to eas- ily find what they need and keeps them in the store longer, as signs can lead them from one department to the next. But signs aren’t just to guide shoppers through the store. Use shelf talkers and POP displays to convey product and how-to information. A project list sign, for example, can sug- gest add-on sales in another department. In the mini-store store at the Spring Buying Market, you’ll see examples of the signage Blish-Mize can create for your store, which includes customized signage so you can incorporate your own brand message. Is my store well lit? Good lighting helps draw attention to those displays you’ve worked hard to cre- ate. You can use special, direct lighting for displays you want to highlight. Good lighting can even enhance the color of the products on the shelf. Replace bulbs as soon as they burn out and clean fixtures whenever the bulb is changed. Is my merchandise staying clean? As you research new assortments and merchandising strategies, don’t forget one of the most basic elements of good mer- chandising: it has to stay clean and orga- nized. Have an employee assigned to each department to check daily that every shelf and product is dusted and fronted. Remove damaged packaging and never let empty boxes or debris sit in the aisles.
Use the areas around the cash register and service counters for impulse items. Good examples are snack foods, batteries and dollar items such as key chains. Also consider seasonal items such as sun lotions and bug spray. Look for other areas around the store, too, where you can encourage impulse buys through the use of clip strips and floor displays. Am I rotating endcaps often? Some of the most valuable merchandising real estate in the entire store is on an endcap. Endcaps need to appear full, but not crowded. Balance their use throughout the store; use some to promote projects and use others for your promotional items. These are also great places to promote new products and seasonal items. Let your creativity reign here, too. Don’t be afraid to try an out-of-the-box idea that will grab customers’ attention. Most importantly, don’t let endcaps be an afterthought; instead, have a plan that keeps the endcaps changing every few weeks. Am I using a variety of displays? Special displays throughout the store are strong selling tools. Make sure you’re using a variety. Several years ago, the North
Clear signage and organized, full bins are key elements of a well-merchandised store.
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Your customers and their pain1ng needs are diverse. Why offer a “one size fits all paint program? “ Blish-‐Mize is offering PraA & Lambert to help meet your current customers needs and help drive new customers to your store. Stop by Booth #702 to learn more about our product assortments to help you sell: • The DIY Consumer • The Professional Painter • Industrial /Commercial Maintenance Manager Why offer a one-size-fits-all paint program? Want to drive new business to your store and be able to offer your current customers the most diverse product line possible? Stop at BOOTH #702 to see our product assortments and see why we NEVER COMPROMISE ® . Pratt & La b rt Paints are for The IY Consumer The Professional Painter Industrial/Commercial Maintenance Manager
Your Next Profitable Niche Five Reasons PartScription Should Become the Next Hot Category in Your Store W ould you like to expand your inventory by 9 million SKUs without
Thanks to a partnership between PartScription and Blish-Mize, now you can do both. PartScription offers an online cata- log of more than 9 million repair parts and accessories for appliances, lawn and garden, HVAC, vacuums and electronics. You have access to wholesale pricing to boost your margins, excellent vendor support and no money out of your pocket to start. “PartScription is an add-on category you can have without the expense of stocking any extra products,” says Blish- Mize Marketing Manager Don Miller. “It gives you the opportunity to sell products so your customers won’t have to go down the street to get what they need.” #1 PartScription is an important service to give to your customers. With the economy causing many people to monitor their spending more closely, more people are keeping household items like appliances and outdoor power equipment longer. When something breaks, they’ll try to fix it themselves rather than buy a new one. Typically, those do-it-yourselfers assume that, if they’re going to fix some- thing like a major home appliance, they should head to a specialty retailer, con- tact the manufacturer or get online to see if they can find the right part. taking up any extra space? Would you like a niche that draws repeat traffic into your store?
PartScription’s online catalog makes it easy for you to order repair parts. Through Blish-Mize, you are one click away from your own, specialized wholesale pricing.
If you can make the parts ordering process easy for your customers, then they’re likely to come to you in the future when something breaks, and you’ll have a customer for life. In addition, repair parts are items big- box stores typically don’t carry. By using PartScription to offer these items in your store, you give shoppers one more reason to come to you, and you strengthen your standing as a one-stop shop for all mainte- nance and repair needs around the home. “PartScription provides competitive wholesale prices, enhanced service to cus- tomers while driving profits, store visits and additional sales,” says PartScription President Kevin Price. #2 You will have a complete selection of products. Very likely, you’ll be the only one in your market who can make it easy to
order repair parts. But even if there are other choices in your market, you can still be the dominant player, even against Internet competitors. “Because we have such a comprehensive selection and competitive prices, we neutralize your Internet competition,” says Price. The benefit of getting items through PartScription is that you’ll have access to parts for major name brands, like GE, Sony, Whirlpool, Maytag and Husqvarna. In addition to one-time repair parts, parts include items customers will need again and again, like refrigerator water filters,
or vacuum bags, belts and filters. Once your customer sets up an
account with you online, that customer can view previously purchased parts and can keep track of the model numbers of appliances and equipment they have,