Consumers have numerous sources for gathering information about door hardware products. The survey found that most consumers cited friends and relatives and advice from builders and remodeling contractors as their primary sources of information. Other frequently used sources included in-store displays, in-store sales help, and TV or cable programming.
This survey supports the notion that word of mouth advertising and recommendations from past customers play a key role when customers decide where to buy their hardware, and positive recommendations can propel your shop into local success. Locksmith shops have the ability to provide knowledgeable, in-store solutions for customers, with personalized customer service and experience in installation that large retailers cannot offer. If customers leave your shop feeling satisfied and taken care of, they will tell their friends and family about the positive experience.
The next point to consider is merchandising techniques, and how you can economically carry decorative hardware products in your shop.
Locksmiths can compete very similarly to showrooms that focus on kitchens, baths, and lighting products. However, you have the added benefits of more personalized service, greater product knowledge, and in-house installation options. Because locksmiths can also install the purchased hardware, the opportunity to offer customers a total package, including the door set and its installation, is available — something neither showrooms nor large retailers can offer.
Buying a display unit or merchandiser from a manufacturer to display the hardware does not require you to carry inventory and gives your customers more product options. The use of display boards, rather than catalog orders, is much more effective in selling decorative hardware to customers because it allows them to see and feel the hardware firsthand before they order it. An effective display will give your customers the information and inspiration they need to make the right decision.
When a customer requests a product or a family of products — like matching exterior and interior door hardware — you simply place an order with the manufacturer and it will generally ship to your store within two weeks. Then, you can install the hardware to complete the total package.
With so many hardware companies in the market, doing research before making a decision about what merchandiser to buy from which manufacturers can help you save money.
Manufacturers will often offer display programs or even discounts based on new customers or sales volumes, so it is worth inquiring with several manufacturers before deciding which decorative hardware brands to offer in your store. For example, Hickory Hardware currently offers a 50 percent discount on displays for new customers. It also has a program that will credit your account for the cost of the display unit, if you reach a certain volume of sales for the year — essentially giving you the display for free.
You can further reduce your costs by finding a manufacturer that includes multiple finishes for each design family on one board. That way, you can display all of the available finishes without investing in multiple boards and more merchandisers. Finding a merchandising program that minimizes the cost of your investment — whether through discounts or rebates — is essential to successfully competing when it comes to decorative hardware.
The Right Styles and Finishes
Understanding what styles and finishes are traditionally popular, as well as what is new and trendy for homes, can help you decide what products and finishes to display and offer in your shop.
Cooler, sleeker finishes, like satin nickel or Sausalito silver, are consistently popular in the hardware industry. These finishes complement a range of styles from contemporary to traditional and offer customers the ability to easily coordinate all of the hardware in their home, while varying styles from room to room.
However, cooler finishes are giving way to warmer finishes like copper and bronze. The industry has seen an increasing interest in darker finishes in recent years, including oil-rubbed bronze with an underlying bronze or copper patina, as well as the even darker espresso finish. This trend goes hand in hand with an increasing tactile need among consumers. When people feel the hardware they often want something with rustic or hand-wrought textures, and tend to use hardware products that have strong textures to create style for their home.
The key to selling decorative hardware is offering your customer something that can't be purchased from the local hardware or home improvement store.
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