Paul Wheeler

Paul Wheeler is the Sales Director for MHK UK, a cooperative of specialist kitchen retail businesses in the United Kingdom.

How to show the best side of your business

Posted 5th Oct 2019

They say familiarity breeds contempt, which may be a strong phrase for your relationship with your showroom, but familiarity certainly breeds acceptance, and renders the unacceptable invisible.

At this point, I could tell stories of seeing weeds growing out of beautiful granite planters by the front door, or those same pots being used as somewhere to assemble an extensive collection of cigarette butts, or even a retailer with a huge hole outside his showroom where his cellar door was broken, forcing potential customers to take their lives in their hands, and wondering why his sales had declined. I like to think that if you are reading this, you already care about your showroom and ensure it I presented in the best way, and are more interested in what tools exist to make sure it stays looking that way.

So, assuming your doorway is weed and cigarette free, once you have a customer in your showroom, the most important weapon at your disposal are your displays, ensuring they represent the lifestyle and aspirations of your target customer. These displays are our assets, and like any asset they have a lifespan, a value, and an expected return on that investment.

I have always felt a reasonable lifespan for a display is 3 years give or take, and as a retailer you should have an outline plan to rotate your displays on a rolling 3 year programme to ensure you are replacing displays whilst they are still relevant and available, as once a door is obsolete its appeal as an ex display kitchen, and therefore its value, drastically declines.

So, from your showroom, to decide on what to replace, it is important to review the performance of each display to make sure it is earning its keep in terms of colour, style or design flair. Whilst we all sell what we display, there is some cross pollination in terms of styles and colours, but as a rough guide in a showroom with 5 displays, each display should be in some way contributing between 15% and 30% of your sales, so loosely speaking if you have an orange kitchen but aren’t selling any coloured kitchens, orange or otherwise, it’s probably time to change it.

The next question is what to change it for, and how to pay for it. At MHK we are well placed to see the trends coming down the line on a national and international basis, and also have knowledge of what is working well for members elsewhere in the country, so we can take the guesswork out of choosing a display, to ensure your display is earning its keep from day 1. We can often suggest a replacement product or brand that helps you as a retailer fill a place in the market that you aren’t catering for, and therefore broaden your audience and extend your sales further.

Once you have decided on which display to change and what style to change it for, the next question is how to pay for it. Like free lunches, there is no such thing as a free display, so be aware that anyone offering a free display will have the cost of that display built into the subsequent trade pricelist. Do you really want to be paying for the free displays in yours (and more importantly your competitors) showrooms through an inflated buying price? At MHK we favour a more transparent approach and deal with trade partners who offer our members a straight and generous discount on displays, a competitive trade price, and in many cases a rebate scheme that rewards loyalty and turnover, meaning a rebate of several times the value of the display is achievable.

As a kitchen buying group, these are the things we do each day for our members. They may seem like small details but they add up to something much bigger, giving MHK members an advantage over their competition. These are all things any retailer can do, but why do them alone? This is one of many advantages MHK offers to its independent members, meaning we are stronger together in these unpredictable times.

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