Go to main article Kowtowing to the Contractor
Somewhere between 15% and 20% of the volume of Scherer Bros. Lumber, a five-store chain in the Twin Cities, comes from sales to remodeling contractors. That figure is growing. The goal, "if we stay focused," says remodeling sales coordinator Dave Klun, is that eventually a third of the company's sales will come from remodelers.
In May of 2001, to help move Scherer Bros. toward the goal, the company organized its first two-hour focus group of remodeler customers. The plan is to convene focus groups quarterly to find out what Scherer Bros. can do to better serve its growing remodeler base. "For us, the easiest way to fail is not to stay in touch with what their needs are," Bill Clemen, vice president/retail of Scherer Bros., says. "And to be inflexible in the products and services we offer."
One issue the company discovered was a concern for remodelers was product mix. As a result of focus group input, Scherer Bros. expanded its selection of millwork and hardware products.
Another concern was delivery. Clients pointed out ways that Scherer Bros. could better meet their delivery requirements, which differ from those of new construction. Drivers at new construction sites can simply back in and drop a load. Remodeling sites are harder to reach with a truck. So Scherer Bros. invested in forklifts that can be piggybacked onto delivery trucks. The forklifts move products like lumber and drywall down alleys. "Tandems don't work down alleys," notes Klun, who coordinates the group of seven sales personnel and five assistants who make up what is known as the Remod Squad. That was another request: Salespeople who focused exclusively on remodeler accounts, rather than dividing their time between remodeling and new construction.