Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Meaning Behind February 29th

Today is February 29th, a date that only occurs once every four years. Because Earth does not rotate the sun in exactly 365 days, calendars that have the same number of days in each year drift over time. By inserting an additional day or month into the year, the drift can be corrected.

Each calendar throughout the world seems to have some form of a leap year, with the Julian calendar adding it in 8 AD. The Chinese and Hebrew calendars add an extra month, with the Hebrew calendar adding it seven times every 19 years.

Fun little fact - in Ireland and Britain, it is traditional that women may only propose marriage in Leap Years. While my parents are from neither place, my mom proposed to my dad on February 29th many years ago!

Do you have your showroom CEU Events calendar completed for 2020?

If not, take a look at what courses are available in your area and feel free to request a local presenter for an event at your showroom.

Here is a list of DPHA companies offering CEU Events programs:

Our own DPHA Instructors


Barber Wilsons/Sterlingham

Blanco America


California Faucets

Electric Mirror



Hastings Tile and Bath

House of Rohl

Hydro Systems

Infinity Drain


ThermaSol Steam & Showering Systems

Meet QM Drain's Latest Award-Winning Drain, the Veil Linear

Congratulations to QM Drain! Their Veil Linear drain was selected as one of the Products of the Year winners in the “Kitchen & Bath” Category for the Architecture Record Magazine. This award is selected by a jury of architects and designers.

Fabricated to empty 8 gallons of water per minute, the new marine-grade stainless steel drain features a tray top that accepts a tile insert. The hardware is available in five finishes to define its exposed edges.

Furniture Guild Launches New Website

Furniture Guild is happy to announce the launch of their new website. All designs are now featured with easy access to specs and design-based option compatibility to make specifying custom product even easier. The site gives you the ability to see which options can be added to each vanity, such as metal inlays, metal legs and walnut drawers.

The website also features a new blog for those looking to learn more about The Furniture Guild.

Team Building: How You Open Dictates Where You Finish

Thoughts from Fellow Jeff Valles

Every morning, do your teams come to work ready to perform their creative best? Do they have a game plan in mind?

This morning each team member is gearing up for the day ahead. Some of the sales team are passionately ready to go, others are busy chatting away while others are deeply engrossed on one of their screens. Every person has their morning ritual, but does it really prepare them for the day ahead? How about adding a quick morning meeting designed to start the day and help each team member focus on what they will accomplish?

Before outlining our rousing morning agenda, let’s look at some brain research.

Really smart people have proven that small daily wins offer our brains similar rewards to winning a six-figure bid. It’s also said that any defeat is twice as powerful as any win. Yes, people can land a good quote in the morning, then have their day trashed by an ultra-picky complaint from a customer. The sooner you can talk out the negative incident and celebrate the win, the better your team members will feel. Plus, this venting will free their mind to create a positive focus for the day ahead. People are so much more creative when they are in a positive frame of mind.

“But it isn’t just the person who shows up to tell their story most often who wins. It’s the person who has the patience and empathy to understand the story they tell must serve the people they want to matter to.”  - Bernadette Jiwa from The Story of Telling

It takes a clear, attentive mind to comprehend and process a customer as they describe their vision for their dream room. A brief, focused meeting every morning will help alleviate lingering negative feelings, celebrate the positive and get the team primed for the day ahead.

“Positive feedback is a signal to the brain to do more of something. When we acknowledge, we highlight the behaviors we want to see more of, and at the same time, we build the other person’s confidence and certainty around what they are doing well.” - David Rock, founder of the Neuroleadership Institute

There are many ways to organize these meetings. One simple way is to first ask each team member individually to share one negative thing that stands out from yesterday (or their last shift). Once all have processed their individual bad juju, ask each member for a positive event from the day. Now you have replaced any negative feelings with positive ones. To kick off the day, ask each person for one task they want to accomplish today. Simple and quick. Now they all are leaning more positive and focused on the opportunity-rich day ahead.

These start-the-day meetings also offer managers quality insight into each member of their team, as well as what is happening in their department. Take the time to note who needs an individual attaboy, who deserves a big high-five for a good effort, or who might need help on a large project.

Everyone will start the day having vented and been applauded. Not a bad way to prepare your team to be at its creative best for the day ahead.

New Muse Vanity by ICERA is inspired by modern minimalist design

ICERA brings a cool contemporary vibe to the bathroom with its new Muse vanity. With a bold geometric silhouette highlighted in striking metal trim, the Muse is perfect for minimalist-inspired modern designs that celebrate clean lines and luxurious style. The Muse vanity packs impressive practicality into its sophisticated design. Three generous drawers include a tilt-out top drawer to maximize usable storage space and keep small items easily accessible. Trendy metal feet coordinate with the decorative trim and elevate the vanity for a feeling of spaciousness even in the most compact bathrooms.

The TRUMPET Flush Plate by OLI – Distributed by AD Waters Exclusively in North America

Designed by world-renowned architect Siza Vieira, the award-wining design of the Trumpet, a soft-press pneumatic flush plate, is nothing short of distinguished. The 2mm extra-thin stainless steel plate has two pistons, characterizing perfectly those of a trumpet, and can be used for alternate installation of up to two meters away from the cistern to optimize comfort without compromising design. This water-saving dual flush pneumatic actuator is offered in polished stainless steel, brushed stainless steel, bronze stainless steel and gold stainless steel.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Amazon Moves into Luxury

On the surface, Amazon’s reported entre into ultra-luxury products does not make a lot of sense. The company’s business model is to provide the quickest route from wanting to getting, and many luxury manufacturers have demonized Amazon for its unwillingness to address counterfeiting and copyright infringement among its third-party suppliers.

The Business of Fashion reported that Amazon has been operating a site called SRSNL since September. SRSNL offers products from Rick Owens, Versace, Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Prada, Alexander McQueen, Gucci and Stain Laurent, and is expected to launch in the first half of this year. Each of the 12 luxury brands will control how their products are featured on the site, select the products that will be available, and set pricing using the same platform used in department stores. The manufacturers will lease space on the Amazon site and pay a portion of the sales to Amazon for hosting. It is rumored that Amazon is building a fulfillment center in Arizona and will invest $100 million to market the luxury site.

One of the challenges Amazon faces in the luxury arena is access to products, as most true luxury brands control their distribution and how their products are displayed. LVMH has emphatically rejected offers to sell on Amazon. That’s not the case with many American luxury brands, however. Michael Kors, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Coach, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman and Ralph Lauren reportedly will be featured on the new SRSNL. These brands are already sold on Amazon through third-party resellers and are not averse to having their products discounted.

Another challenge for luxury brands selling on Amazon is their ability to control third-party sellers that tend to discount and commoditize everything. The luxury brands that have reportedly signed on to SRSNL are likely attracted to 112 million Prime members who tend to be in a higher-income bracket than the average Amazon customer. Luxury retailers who have relied on department stores for decades realize that Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are not winning venues for their brands and have been looking for alternatives. Amazon offers a new opportunity. Nonetheless, entering the luxury arena is contrary culturally to what Amazon excels at – the fastest way from wanting to getting. There’s nothing particularly enjoyable associated with clicking on an item and paying for it at checkout. That being said, who is going to challenge Jeff Bezos’ instincts and business operations?

How to Ask Better Questions

Showrooms are well served to establish set procedures and goals for when their sales professionals meet prospects for the first time. If the initial client meeting is in the showroom, the goals from this first interaction should be to understand what the prospect wants to achieve, the budget available for the project, and to establish trust and schedule a follow-up appointment. Asking the right questions and listening intently to responses are keys to achieving these goals.

It most instances, you are better served to ask open ended questions – questions that require more than a one or two word answer. For example, instead of asking a client what style they prefer, a better question may be to ask them to describe the style of their home. Ask to see pictures of pieces or fixtures that they love or reflect their style. Follow up by asking what about that style appeals to them. You can inquire about the type of research that the client has done to prepare for the showroom visit and the type of bath or kitchen that they prefer. Instead of asking a client what their goal is for this project, ask what their top priorities are for their renovation.

The same approach can be used to inquire about budgeting. Instead of asking, do you have a budget for this project or what’s the budget you have in mind, you can ask, “how did you determine the budget for your project?”

It’s okay to ask questions such as “what’s your timetable?” provided there is a follow up question that asks what challenges they have considered that would cause their project to stall. Other questions to consider:

  • What were some of the best decisions you made when improving your living space?
  • How do you feel about your current bath, kitchen, home?
  • How will you determine the success of this project?
  • What do you see as the biggest risks that you will encounter for this project?
  • What are the best days and times to return to the showroom?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Getting to Know Your Customers

One of the biggest questions that most of us need to know when helping a client pick out their bathroom and kitchen fixtures is their budget. However, most clients are nervous about giving this information or they low ball the amount as they are sure that you are going to try and up-sell them. So how do we find out this information, while at the same time building trust with the client? We also need to make the experience fun. Renovating or building a house is stressful, and it is part of our responsibility to help ease the stress and make it fun.

Here are some questions to help you capture information on budget and style without directly asking about budget, and to break the ice to make your transactions a friendly relationship.

  1. What is your favorite restaurant? This will help guide the budget and give you some insight into their style. 
  2. Do you have any pets (follow up on type of pet and where the litter box, food, etc. is kept)? This helps with design features. Maybe a console sink so the litter box can be placed beneath it, or a heated floor if they have old pets. Pet owners really like it when you take their pets needs into the design features.
  3. Where do you have your hair done (while complimenting their hair)? This may help you add handshowers into the shower or with the tub for washing hair, especially since many women don’t wash their hair every day. 
  4. Do you have children/ages/what school do they go to, what are their hobbies? Bathroom needs vary depending on the age of a child, but take into consideration the fact that they grow up quickly. Very sporty children may prefer a whirlpool to ease out their sore muscles. If multiple children tend to use the bathroom at the same time, you may want to consider having the tub/shower in a separate room or using an opaque shower curtain instead of a glass door. Also, if children are sharing a bathroom, two sinks allow for fewer arguments.
  5. If a big sporting event is upon us, which team are you supporting? This is just an ice breaker and can help build rapport.
  6. Do you work out/what gym do you use? Customers who are members of gyms may have tried things like steam or sauna and want them in their own bathroom. Think about towel warmers as well - if they are using towels during the day, this can save on drying and washing, and a nice warm towel after a shower feels great.
  7. Are you new to the area, which real estate agent did you use (side note: make friends with the local real estate dealers)? If they are new to the area, give them suggestions on things to do and see, again helps build rapport.
  8. What is their ideal start to the day/end to the day? Some people are wash and go morning people, while others are slow starters or evening people. As they describe their morning/evening routine, this lets you know whether the bathroom is a place to get you clean or a sanctuary. Does the family eat together in the morning or evening? Do they hang out in the kitchen?
  9. What is their favorite spot in the city/town? This again can help with budget. Is their favorite place a free park, or someplace that costs a pretty penny?
  10. If there was one thing you always wanted to try in your home what is it? They may be afraid to add a steam unit or a heated floor, give them permission to think about it.
Finally, play with your customer. Let the 1st quote be all about their dreams, let them put all the things they have heard about and wanted to try but are afraid are out of their budget. If you let them at least play for the 1st quote they may not keep all of the added items, but they will likely keep some.

Remember most of our clients will only renovate or build a home once, but they do have friends. So by building a relationship of trust with your client, and making sure that their experience was stress free and fun, you can build a network of clients for the future.

Ultra Design Center Recognized as LPG Showroom of the Year

Congratulations to DPHA Member Ultra Design Center on being recognized as Luxury Product Group's Showroom of the Year!

Ultra Design Center took on 2019 in a big way. They moved into a spectacular 13,000-square-foot showroom on the third floor of the International Design Collection Building in Denver. They entered the lighting category. They added several new luxury lines, and they promoted two staff members to management positions.

Ultra offers a full range of decorative bath, plumbing, kitchen, hardware and lighting products to customers throughout Colorado and parts of Wyoming.

THE ODIN KITCHEN COLLECTION: Customizable elements across new kitchen suite provide a new level of design versatility

The Odin Kitchen Collection by Brizo represents an exquisite multiplicity, with a streamlined silhouette that takes on new distinction across a broad spectrum of finishes, handle options and spout configurations. Named after a figure from Norse mythology, the Odin Kitchen Collection channels an elegantly balanced Scandinavian aesthetic.

The Odin Kitchen Collection is the first Brizo kitchen suite where the handles are sold separately, allowing each faucet to take on a tailored look with a metal or teak handle in a matching finish, or a custom split-finish. The full suite also coordinates seamlessly with the new Brizo instant hot and beverage faucets to complete the kitchen space.

hansgrohe Launches Rainfinity and Axor Edge at KBIS

For users seeking the perfect showering experience, hansgrohe provides a fully catered Rainfinity showering system. This system is driven by a unique RainSelect four function thermostatic shower mixer and supported by a space maximizing handshower holder and shelf, all in Matte White. The RainSelect shower trim controls it all, featuring generously sized mechanical buttons that can be engaged with a satisfying click. Not only does it control the various Rainfinity showerhead spray modes, it can also turn the system on/off, as well as control volume and temperature.

The AXOR Edge collection is a masterpiece composed of several cube-like structures with ultraprecise lines, unique grooves, and textures. The design is created with the use of diamonds, to make it a one-of-kind center piece for the bathroom. The collection comes in Chrome and 12 AXOR FinishPlus finishes, which are rendered through treatment in a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) chamber in the AXOR production plant. The resulting finishes, such as Brushed Black Chrome and Polished Red Gold, are highly scratch-resistant and long lasting.

Top Knobs Introduces Ellis, a Collection of Decorative Hardware that Exudes Southern Sophistication

Top Knobs introduces the Ellis Collection. Influenced by the opulent and intricate architecture of Savannah, GA, Ellis includes five series of delicately detailed knobs, pulls and appliance pulls. The collections includes 274 pieces throughout five series; Telfair, Hartridge, Julian, Davenport, and Ellis. Cabinet pulls and knobs are available in various sizes, and 12” and 18” appliance pulls are available in all 5 series.

All hardware in the Ellis collection is available in Ash Gray, Brushed Satin Nickel, Flat Black, Honey Bronze, Polished Chrome and Polished Nickel.

Stylish Slopes and Curves Enhance the Shower Experience

MTI Baths has expanded its line of shower bases to include a first-of-its-kind offering from the brand – a base with gentle curves and slopes. This shower base is distinguished by the soft, organic transitions that smoothly flow from all corners and sides into the floor of the shower pan.

The base is crafted of extremely durable continuous cross-linked cast acrylic that is reinforced with an impressive multi-layered backing for added strength. As part of MTI’s popular Designer Collection, the 6030IFM model includes a stainless steel or white powder-coated drain cover and can be optionally equipped with MTI’s Radiance® integrated shower floor heating system.

Happy Mardi Gras Y'all!

This Tuesday, February 25th, is Fat Tuesday! Many of you will be coming to New Orleans this fall for our annual conference, so I wanted to tell you a bit about our favorite holiday. Traditionally, Mardi Gras is the Christian feasting period before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras, also known as Carnival Season, starts 12 days after Christmas, and continues through Fat Tuesday. It is filled with parades, balls and King Cake, a delicious pastry that most bakeries will only make during Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans for over 300 years! Click here to read a great article about the history of Mardi Gras that Town & Country released last year.

Friday, February 14, 2020

87% of AIA Architects Look to Continuing Education to Keep on Top of Trends

The American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) latest study revealed the 4 in 5 architects have responsibility for finding out information about new products and materials at their firm. 87% of the study participants look to continuing education to keep on top of trends relating to products and materials - that’s higher than manufacturer’s websites (80%) or manufacturer’s representatives (73%) and a number that’s growing in importance.

If you would like to add more courses to your offering, or want to start to present CEUs to turn education into specifications, sign up for DPHA CEU program today.

A Valentine's Love Story

In honor of the February 14 Connections, we want to relate the real story of Valentine’s Day. It dates back to the third century when Roman Emperor Claudius II ordered all Romans to worship 12 gods. Refusing to do so was punishable by death. You can imagine that Christians did not take too kindly to Claudius’ edict. One who refused was named Valentinus, and he was arrested and jailed. Awaiting his ultimate fate, his jailor recognized that Valentinus was an educated man and asked him if he would tutor his daughter Julia, who was blind since birth.

Valentinus was a good teacher and Julia was a receptive student. After learning math, Roman history, biology and religion, Julia started to see the world through Valentinus’ eyes. Then a miracle occurred. When Valentinus and Julia were praying together, there was a sudden brilliant flash of light in the prison cell. Eureka! Julia suddenly could see.

On the eve of his execution, Valentinus sent a note to Julia that he signed, “Your Valentine.” He was executed on February 14, 270 AD. From that day on, messages of devotion, love and affection are sent around the world.

Now that you know the true story of Valentine’s Day, don’t you wonder where those heart shaped candies with corny phrases came from?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Mr. Steam Recognized as LPG's Vendor of the Year!

Left to Right: Dan Reinert of Mr. Steam. Jeff MacDowell
of LPG and Martha Orellana of Mr. Steam
Congratulations to Mr. Steam on being recognized as Luxury Product Group's Vendor of the Year!

One of today’s biggest trends in bathroom design is to create a relaxing and spa-like environment at home. Mr. Steam works closely with showrooms, designers and discerning homeowners to help them create the steam shower environment of their dreams. Mr. Steam offers contemporary, technologically advanced products with swipe-touch controls, ultra-efficient steam generators, soothing aromatherapy and chromatherapy systems, and sleek high-performance towel warmers.

Franz Viegener Faucet Handles in Four Decorative Designs

In an extension of the popular Lollipop and Nerea collections, Franz Viegener introduces a series of stunning new widespread faucets feature ultra-modern handles that incorporate elegant jewelry-like details. The new Lollipop widespread will be offered with tall, cylindrical handles while the Nerea will feature a low, disc-like style. Each handle features one of four decorative designs — vertical lines, horizontal rings, subtle knurled detailing or a more prominent diamond pattern. All configurations will be available in the current range of finishes — polished chrome, polished and brushed nickel (PVD), polished and brushed gold (PVD), polished rose gold (PVD), satin black (PVD), and polished and brushed unlacquered brass.

STRASSER Launches Celebria Vanity Collection

STRASSER is elevating the luxury experience even further with the launch of the Celebria vanity collection. Thoughtfully designed toward simplification of form, Celebria’s clean lines exude a distinctly contemporary aura. Combined with a glossy, matte, or textured finish, the effect is at once soothing as it is sophisticated. Celebria includes two models, the Milo and the Amiri. Both Milo and Amiri are available in seven finishes: Gloss Black, Gloss White, Matte Black, and Matte White that resist smudges for a sleek, clean finish; Pasadena Pine, Palisandro Blue, and Stratos Pinea boast a high-relief woodgrain and reclaimed wood textures to enhance the slab surface.

BLANCO Introduces New IKON® Farmhouse Sink with Low Divide

Blanco is elevating kitchen ergonomics with its new IKON® 33” Apron 1-3/4 Bowl with Low Divide sink. Designed to make prepping, cooking and cleaning a more seamless and comfortable experience for all users, this industry first apron front sink is crafted with the brand’s exclusive SILGRANIT® granite composite patented material available in nine trending colors.

The new IKON sink’s convenient low divide that sits just 5-1/2” from the sink bottom, makes it easier to handle large pots and baking sheets while still dividing the sink into cleaning and prepping bowls.

How To Use Your 2020 Data To Better Understand, Support and Delight Your Customers

Last week we discussed building the ultimate data collection process to place your business in the best possible position to grow. The more you can learn about your business, your customers and your targeted market, the better prepared you will be for the newly emerging algorithms, artificial intelligence support and insight.

For now, let’s look at the data we do have. Let’s set it up to answer questions that will allow us to better understand what is happening in our business and what we can do better to improve and gain market share.

Start with asking your ERP system to create the following spreadsheet for up to the last five years. It will be a big file, but full of data to help you and your team better understand what is actually happening in business.

I suggest the following 10 headers for each line item invoiced:
  • Invoice Date
  • Customer 
  • Qty shipped
  • Vendor
  • Vendor Product Number
  • Description
  • Finish (if you can)
  • Margin (if you can’t pull this information directly, you can create a simple formula with information below)
  • Total line cost
  • Total line sale
  • Showroom salesperson
Please note here, only ask for the data if you are confident that the data in each of the cells is correct. If you had any past data integrity problems or consistent mis-entry issues, do not include those topics or time periods in your spreadsheet. As the saying goes; Garbage in, garbage out.

Once you have this data, make sure each cell in a column is formatted uniformly. If they are not, the data will be off when combined for a table or report.

Find your best and brightest spreadsheet expert and ask them to set up a pivot table and pivot chart with this data. If you cannot find such a person, ask your accountant, myself or YouTube. Click here for a simple overview of pivot tables to get you started.

From this data you will be able to ask the following questions:
  • What am I actually selling by: 
    • Vendor
    • Finish
    • Product category
  • Are my customers:
    • Purchasing everything they need from me?
    • At what margin?
    • What product categories that I sell that they are not buying from me? 
  • What are my salespeople selling:
    • By brand
    • By function
    • By finish
    • What are they not selling?
  • What are my margins by:
    • Brand
    • Customer
    • Vendor
    • Salesperson
    • Product category
Notice that I have included questions related to product categories even though that is not one of the spreadsheet headers. We do not have exact information here, but we know that most DPH brands are primarily focused on one product category. Some companies focus on cabinet hardware, others on plumbing fixtures and others on kitchen sinks. It is not a perfect metric, but it will offer you added insight into what your customers are buying/not buying. This filter will help you identify which product categories and vendors are reaching your margin goals, opportunities to sell more product categories to your good accounts, and if your salespeople are remembering to sell all the products you offer.

Once you have these answers, and any other questions you deem important to your business, you can focus on the opportunities you see that offer the largest upside and are the easiest to address.

After you set this up, you can run the data output and create your pivot table reports at the end of each month. You will now have actual, black and white data to allow you and your team see what is actually going on and plot a course to improve sales, margins and team performance. Not to mention getting the right products on display and building a more dynamic inventory.

Brick and Mortar Retail Attracts Technology Investment

Technology investors are moving dollars from e-commerce businesses to brick and mortar retail, finds a study by CB Insights, a market intelligence company. The new data reflects new interest in brick and mortar. Investment in retail technology dropped from $68 billion in 2018 to $45 billion in 2019, with the dollars shifting to online meal and grocery delivery applications and new e-commerce centric popups looking for temporary brick and mortar space, according to the CB Insights study.

While the number of investment deals declined from 2018 to 2019, the dollar volume of brick and mortar investment rose significantly. The largest investors are the big brick and mortar players such as Walmart, Target, Kroger and Amazon (of course). This trend reflects that even those businesses whose primary revenue stream is online commerce feel that a brick and mortar presence is necessary.

Seamless checkout ala Amazon Go has attracted a substantial share of brick and mortar investment dollars. The ability to collect data from in-store shoppers and their habits is another major investment brick and mortar retailers are making to help improve inventory and advertising decisions. Kroger has partnered with Microsoft to develop a consumer behavior data collection platform. Walmart has earmarked $200 million to modernize its Canadian stores with the new versions featuring retail pop-ups, mobile phone checkout and digital price markers that can be changed instantly to respond to shopper trends. CB Insights expects continued investment in in-store data collection technologies and an expansions of robots roaming store aisles. Retailers are also earmarking technology investments to artificial intelligence applications for brick and mortar stores.

How are you using technology to grow your brick and mortar business?

Friday, February 7, 2020

Meet Zoe, Furniture Guild's Newest Vanity

The Furniture Guild introduces the new Zoe vanity. Shown here in black oak and polished nickel, the Mid-Century Modern design incorporates the elegant metal trim of the Josie and stunning metal legs.  This design is available in A and B wood finishes, as well as any custom color. Legs are available in all standard Furniture Guild metal finishes.

Brizo Wins KBIS Best of Show!

Congratulations to Brizo on their KBIS Best of Show win for the Kintsu Bath Collection! Drawn from “Kintsugi,” a Japanese method of joining pieces of cracked pottery with gold, the name “Kintsu” represents the way in which Japandi style merges two design philosophies for a stunning aesthetic. The collection offers five knob handle options, including Mother of Pearl, Concrete, Teak, All-Metal with a void design, and a custom option that allows unique inlays.

Infinity Drain Launches New Slot Linear Drain

Infinity Drain introduced a new Slot Linear drain with a narrow 3/8-inch drainage gap that virtually disappears into its surroundings. Available in a range of finishes from stainless steel to matte back, the new linear drains feature an easily accessible clean-out tray that simplifies the process of debris removal and servicing of the waste line.

Oceania Introduces Sikome Bathtub

Oceania's newest freestanding bathtub is here! The Sikome (63" x 31"x 28") is ENTIRELY North-America made and can have any Benjamin Moore color on the exterior. This model is designed with a back support and head rest that will assure comfort to every user. Available with or without a ledge for deck-mount faucet installation.

DPHA is Heading to New Orleans!

The 2020 DPHA Conference + Product Showcase is coming to New Orleans October 22-25! Committees are hard at work to ensure this is the best conference yet, and exciting changes are on the horizon. Our Professional Development Training is coming back with renowned trainer Robb Best at the helm, and we are excited to welcome a full house of showroom associates!

October is a beautiful time to be in New Orleans, so make sure you plan to come early or stay for a few extra days. Leading up to conference we will be providing lots of tips for getting the most out of your time in the Big Easy!

Early Bird booth registration ends at the end of this month, so make sure you secure your booth before March 1!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Create a Better Work/Life Balance

Do you have the feeling that you are always on call and there is no clear line between being at work and being elsewhere? Is the last thing you do before retiring for the evening checking your email? Do you need more time for yourself and your family? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. But all hope is not lost, claims time management coach and author of Devine Time Management Elizabeth Grace Saunders. She recommends four steps to achieve a better work-life balance, regardless of your position.

Step One: Define “After Hours”

Many decorative plumbing and hardware showroom teams don’t work conventional 9 to 5 jobs. If your position necessitates flexible hours, Saunders recommends determining when you want to be off the clock. Determine how your work hours mesh with your personal commitments such as taking your children to school or extracurricular activities, going to the gym or on a date with someone special. If your professional responsibilities demand your constant attention, Saunders advises, map out the amount of time you need daily and weekly for personal priorities and also set aside time designated as “off hours.”

Step Two: Have Mental Clarity

Develop a to-do list and establish milestones for task completion. Your list should include specific time slots for working on specific tasks versus time spent in meetings, responding to email, or interacting with coworkers.

Plan an end-of-the-day wrap session. Spend 15 minutes or so before going home to ensure that you have completed tasks with hard deadlines. Prior to leaving the showroom, scan your email to help assure that if there is a fire brewing, you are in a position to put it out.

Step Three: Communicate With Team Members

If you dedicate time for family, or simply for yourself, please let your team members know that unless something needs to be addressed immediately, you don’t look at your phone after 8pm and you most likely will not get back to them until the next day. If the situation commands immediate attention, you may want to tell your team to send a text instead of using email.

Step 4: Become More Productive at Work
Establish do not disturb time at the showroom where your team knows that you are not to be interrupted unless it is absolutely necessary. Schedule time to work on projects and to review email. If you have to work after hours, establish a start and stop time. I will work from home from 7pm-8:30pm and then stop.

It is not healthy or productive to be thinking about work all of the time. You need to set aside a few hours a day for your family and yourself. When you do, you become healthier, happier and more productive.

Crush Your Competition with Great Data

Last week we discussed ways to help your showroom add pop and sizzle to captivate and delight your customers. Now let’s now dig into collecting the best data possible to give vendors and showrooms insight into what is working in your business, what is not working and what steps will improve your business.

I suggest building this model from the distributor’s showroom perspective. The showrooms offer a more micro-client focus, allowing all a deeper dive into the market and a better understanding of its potential. The first step is to build out your Enterprise Resource Planning program (ERP) sales data collection system to gain a better understanding of the viability of your product mix, customers, vendors and target customers and markets.

Look at your computer system’s data entry matrix for your customer relationship management (CRM), accounts receivable and payable, purchasing and shipping and receiving departments and note what additional data topics you would like to add. This is the time to dream big as it is easier to remove than add a topic. Before you finalize your data capture matrix, think of problems you dream of solving and opportunities you would love to capture. Then ask yourself, what data do I need to win these battles?

Now for the fun part - all of this data must be seamlessly linked to all of your businesses databases. The sales data must interface with the marketing data (CRM), the purchasing, shipping and receiving data and the accounts payable and receivable data. All these data silos must be able to seamlessly talk to each other to offer you the best possible understanding of your customers, vendors, your teams and your target markets.

This is the dream package and if you are not collecting this depth of data that is easily shared across all your company’s platforms today, I suggest you start planning a way to collect this information as soon as you are able. This information will be the foundation of your business decisions and a necessity in five years when AI is the foundational platform of yours and your competitor’s computer programs.

All of this data is available from your vendors, your team and in your mind. If it is an abstract topic, set your company guidelines and add the information per your team’s definition. This is primarily information from and for your business. Get with your team, hash it out, set parameters, define the terms and get to it. It is not important that people outside your business understand this, these classifications are for your own business analysis. It only matters that you and your team know what they stand for and how they are defined.

Once you have this data, it may be filtered, sorted and broken down in countless ways to give you powerful insight into your business. Today, data of this variety and quality can be manipulated by Excel or an off the shelf SQL database and, very soon, be the foundation for your machine learning to power your Artificial Intelligence helper.

It is important that distributor showrooms and vendors work closely together on this. Data updates such as pricing, individual delivery times and order acknowledgements and updates must be able to easily be uploaded into these dynamic databases. Showrooms must also share their sales data with their key vendors. The showroom can remove the company names and their private CRM info, but the overall data should be shared. This is not the time for hiding and hoping. It is time to build true relationships focused on customer service and generating quality margins.

The more comprehensive the data you are collecting is, the better you will be able to understand what is working well, what can be improved, and enhance your strategic planning for your company's future. Remember, no matter how powerful the tech, the applicability and insight of its output is directly dependent on the quality and depth of the data collected and the focused vision of the questions it is asked to answer.

As you ponder how to start setting up your systems to collect this data noted below, next week we will suggest ways to work with your current ERP data now to offer more insight into your customers and to improving your customers experience.

Here is an example of information that should be looked at in order to collect the best data to crush your competition:

      Customer type:
      Job Name
      Showroom salesperson
      Invoice date
      Invoice #
      Job Information
      Zip code (always keep separate)
      Product number
      Product Class:
      Bathroom fixture
      Bathroom accessories
      Kitchen fixture
      Kitchen accessory
      Door hardware
      Door hardware accessory
      Cabinet hardware
      Product function
      Lavatory Faucet:
      3 hole
      2 hole
      Single hole
      Tub Set
      Series Name
      Price each
      Net price each
      Total price paid
      Total net price
      Trade job influencers listed by type:
      Job miscellaneous notes

      Whatever else you deem important