By Ed Hartz
The stone retailer and fabricator advertises, displays and promotes to generate a continual flow of new customers, then sells a product to each customer whom the retailer will rarely see again. Consider the garden center. They sell new annual plants to the same customers every year. Even when the customer buys a tree that will live for a century or more, the garden center sells fertilizer and pest control. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a continual relationship that generates a steady cash flow every year from existing customers?
HartzStone has partnered with a significant number of stone retailers and fabricators to provide the continuing maintenance that keeps the stone looking as good as the day it left the store. The retailer sells the service and HartzStone does the work.
While some customers shop only on price, other customers demand the highest quality materials and demand that they be kept in the finest condition. These customers have a reputation to establish and they use the impression that their homes give to support that reputation. The retailer knows who these customers are, and the add-on sale of continuing care meets the customer’s need.
The price conscious commodity shopper does not know that there are quality differences between one grade of 12-inch marble tiles and another grade. Successful retailers and fabricators have acquired an intimate knowledge of the characteristics of each type of stone they sell and the differences between French limestone, Indiana limestone and Irish limestone. The stone professional knows more than just the color and texture of each stone, the professional knows the characteristics that will suit the intended installation and those that will present future problems.
The professional maintenance and restoration craftsman also has an intimate knowledge of the characteristics of each stone, with the added knowledge of how well each stone has survived daily use in real homes. The professional maintenance craftsman also has an intimate knowledge of the tools, materials and techniques that produce the desired result with each specific stone in each specific environment. Although the cost conscious commodity customer would be satisfied with service from the local handyman, the high-end customer wants careful and expert craftsmanship. The retailer and fabricator already have full-time jobs, so the attractive alternative is to out-source the service responsibilities to a reliable maintenance and restoration professional. The successful retailer knows what the customer wants, so a brief conversation with local maintenance and restoration companies will reveal which can deliver the expertise that will keep the customer coming back.
So, go ahead and sell the tumbled marble to be installed in a shower, where soaps, lotions and every imaginable product of the cosmetics industry will assault it. Or sell the limestone counter for the kitchen, where cooking oils, fruit juices and a world of exotic ingredients will attack it. Just be sure to sell the post-installation cleaning and conditioning by a professional maintenance and restoration company so that the stone you sell will continue to look good while it is being used. Then sell the periodic maintenance contract so that the show room appearance is renewed every year. The customer will be happy with their stone for many years, and you will pocket a share of the maintenance revenue every year.
Ed Hartz founded HartzStone more than a decade ago to provide the highest quality stone restoration services to some of the most sophisticated and demanding residential customers in the country. HartzStone has built a reputation for professionalism upon extensive study of the characteristics of natural stone, thorough testing of restoration materials and techniques, and careful attention to the details of each restoration job. Visit HartzStone.com for more information about HartzStone and to see examples of completed restoration projects.
Granite paving outside the American Museum of Natural History, New York
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