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from Patio and Hearth Products Report

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Sales Promotions: Planned Timely Offers Increase Sales and Profits

—by Rachael Pritz, RB Retail & Service Solutions

Aside from outstanding customer service, hearth and home professionals agree that great deals help lure customers back into the retail store. Once someone owns a new wood stove, fireplace, BBQ or outdoor kitchen, it is important to stay top of mind with these potential repeat customers and it is critical to ensure they do not do take their business elsewhere.

Today’s software technology gives hearth and home businesses a guaranteed system for scheduling sales promotions. Superior business software allows you to create promotions with definitive start-and-stop dates that can be applied to products, services, or construction offerings. By setting all details in the management system and linking to outbound e-mail and other marketing communication tools, hearth and home businesses do not have to worry about missing market opportunities.

Pre-Planning Promotions
There are now technological tools available in some industry-specific business software programs that allow you to set your sale prices for specific sale dates so they automatically go into effect for each event. This automated process takes care of a big task that you will not need to worry about during the busy season or the week of your sale event preparation.

By selecting the products in advance and deciding on the sale prices early, you can be sure that your margins remain profitable. Whether you plan one, two or ten events per season, select your dates and make a solid plan in advance for each. This will make it easier to implement promotions during the season when you and your staff are busy taking care of daily operations. Here are some best practices examples to consider:

Pre-Season promotion- Many retailers and service professionals find success with offering an ‘early’ buy promotion on water care chemicals for the entire season at the start of the year. This creates a cash flow boost and helps customers feel as though they are offered an exclusive opportunity to get the best deal on water care products.

During the season promotion- Mid-way into the season, the BOGO sale on BBQ tools and accessories has proven to be highly effective with retailers throughout the country.  This type of promotion ensures product is moved which might otherwise be left on the shelves at the end of the season. The reason why this is valuable to the customer at this stage of the season is there is still plenty of time left to use them.

End of summer promotion- Offering 25% off on winter covers is a proven, highly successful end-of-season sale. This type of promotion also provides a cash boost as the season ends. It also creates the opportunity to up-sell service for closing and opening the following season.

Create opportunities with existing customers by following their buying habits. Today’s business software allows you to identify customer types for targeted marketing and promotion of specific products and services. Target the buying habits of your clients to make your promotions successful. Some industry-specific business software not only helps you create your lists, but also helps you build targeted lists of people who want to receive promotions about specific products and services.

Up-Sell Related Items
Putting the “related Items” that are pre-programmed in RB Retail and Service Solutions also helps to sell add-on items during busy sales promotion events. For example, Fire-Resistant Safety Gloves with Firewood Bucket, Replacement Filter with Ash Vacuum’s or Bellows with Fireplace Tool Sets, can quickly add large sums of additional profit.

For example, how much profit do you think you could make if every customer purchasing a new set of fireplace tools was being up-sold bellows? Let say a set of bellows has a $10.00 profit. If your staff were prompted by the software to suggest those bellows to 100 customers buying fireplace tools, that alone would result in $1,000 worth of profit from the related item feature. Imagine the gain if the item had a much bigger profit margin. In our POS software, the related item message will automatically pop up at the time of the sale so staff are prompted to sell add on items. Setup unlimited related items to up-sell then keep a few of those items close to the registers or on the service trucks for easy up-selling.

Start pre-planning your sales promotions now.  By doing so, you will contribute to a more profitable season and ease some of the in-season stress associated with the busiest times of the year. 

About the author: Rachael Pritz has been active in the pool industry for more than 20 years, which has provided her with an all-encompassing expertise in the trade. She worked at a local pool store while pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh, Pa. With her technical skills and industry knowledge, she joined the launch of RB Retail & Service Solutions in Pittsburgh in 2003. She can be reached via e-mail at