Increasing sales at vacuum cleaner store

42 replies
I just started working at a vacuum cleaner store and am trying to figure out how to get more customers since we work primarily on commission.

We are the only vacuum store in town besides big box stores.

Our advantages are that we are the only place you can try a vacuum before buying it and were the only warranty center in town so if you don't fix it yourself, then we are. We also price match anywhere including Amazon but I want to try to stay away from selling based on lowest price.

Does anyone have any suggestions?
#cleaner #increasing #sales #store #vacuum
  • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
    Have 2 other local business owners pay for the store's advertising.



    Contact 2 other business owners who are advertising in mailboxes
    and say they can slash the cost of their mailing
    by the three of you riding along together on a
    giant postcard.

    They cover the print and postage costs.

    See that ad on the right...the owner has been getting free advertising every month
    for the last 4 years by those 2 other advertisers, the liquor store, and pizza place.

    Best,
    Ewen
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    • Profile picture of the author longrobnc
      Ewen,

      Are your clients seeing big drops in print media response? Print was once a staple of my lead generation efforts. Now, I have ended almost all of my print media relationships because they stopped producing leads. I thought the local economy was tanking. I visited a local industry event recently and everyone is killing, but me. The guy that relied so heavily on print. lol
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      • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
        Originally Posted by longrobnc View Post

        Ewen,

        Are your clients seeing big drops in print media response? Print was once a staple of my lead generation efforts. Now, I have ended almost all of my print media relationships because they stopped producing leads. I thought the local economy was tanking. I visited a local industry event recently and everyone is killing, but me. The guy that relied so heavily on print. lol
        What kind of marketing are you planning to do to replace the print advertising that isn't working?

        Ron
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        • Profile picture of the author longrobnc
          Hi Ron,

          I put about $20k in the 1st half of 2017 in to social for my local office. I've also spent about $25k on my local site for SEO this year. Social may be one of the worst investments that I've ever made. This was my 2nd attempt. We get opt ins and people love free stuff, but they never seem to buy anything, no matter how low ticket. SEO has brought no results. Most of my most important rankings have actually slipped. When I was doing very little other than writing blogs I had double the local traffic.

          I just started hiring outside salespeople. I may start moving away from an advertising model. I won't know which way to go until I see how well we do with calling on this new sector. Luckily, I have a massive customer base from acquiring my competitors in recent years.
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          • Profile picture of the author GordonJ
            You guys rock. Just one guy's opinion, you all are the only reason for visiting WF. This thread and what to sell door to door contains more useful content than most of the other forum's combined. Thanks for giving your time and experience, it is appreciated. Old dog here, picking up a few new tricks from this group.

            GordonJ
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    • Profile picture of the author Omiro
      what are the costs of something like this I wonder. Given that it's 1 card with small ads that goes to 1000s of addresses vs a coupon saver magazine
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by Omiro View Post

        what are the costs of something like this I wonder. Given that it's 1 card with small ads that goes to 1000s of addresses vs a coupon saver magazine

        In my area, a 2X3 inch ad on the card is about $400. That's what I would pay for 5,000 cards mailed. It's about the same as a full page ad in a coupon magazine. going to 25,000 homes.


        It's not an "either /or" thing. If the card ad still generates a profit, there is no reason to stop doing it.
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  • Profile picture of the author animal44
    Do a deal with all the local carpet fitters to sell your vacuum cleaners to their new carpet customers. Share the commissions. Give them a sales script to use, or better still, a decent sales letter...
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  • Profile picture of the author Enfusia
    1. Rank for search terms in your town. Build a site and rank for local terms.

    2. Promote the heck out of your service shop. People come in with dead units and once they find this out you sell them a new one.

    3. Do raffles at local events, Kirby's for the ladies, shop vacs for the men.
    Do a raffle where you put in $5 for a chance to win this amazing vacuum. Have local places like the rotary club, the car club, schools etc. promote it.

    The vacuum costs you $200. It retails for $400. You collect $1,000 in raffle money and donate the proceeds above $400 to the school, church rotary etc.

    You get the commission from the one that you raffled and 100's of people hear about that unit and your store.

    The business takes the whole thing (the full $1,000) as a tax ride and looks good in the community for raising money for the church, school etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author umc
    Calling Claude Whitaker.......
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    • Profile picture of the author JamesJeffery
      Or Claude Hopkins ... oh wait
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      I'm just a regular guy doing my thing.

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  • Profile picture of the author Soakingitallup
    I really like and appreciate the suggestions so far. Thanks everyone.
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  • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
    so the store has no training or does no marketing to draw customers is what your saying ?
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    • Profile picture of the author Soakingitallup
      They are over staffed and under marketed. So I am trying to increase my individual sales.
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      • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
        Originally Posted by Soakingitallup View Post

        They are over staffed and under marketed. So I am trying to increase my individual sales.
        so why not find a store that has staff / training and proper marketing ? your batting up a hill before you even start and are on a hiding to nil.

        I can not understand how these businesses exist and how they can exploit people in this way, lambs to the slaughter / churn n burn type roles that play upon people is at best how they can be described.
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by Soakingitallup View Post

        They are over staffed and under marketed. So I am trying to increase my individual sales.
        If you are just thinking about your individual sales, then marketing advice won't help you. The chances of you convincing your store owner to spend money on marketing are nil. I'm assuming this is the only game in town.



        This may help.
        I own a vacuum cleaner store. And before I opened my first store, I worked for a dealer to learn how to run the business.

        The single most profitable thing I did was work the service department. I don't mean doing the repairs, I mean talking to people that brought in vacuums for service. If the repair bill was over $50, I'd ask if they would like to know what's available now "in case they are interested in the future".

        This was the perfect time to buy a new vacuum. They would not have to pay for the repair, and I would even give them a little for the trade in.

        I would say "If we fix your vacuum, just remember that every piece we don't replace is as old as the vacuum. I'd hate for you to pay us a lot of money for a repair, and then have to buy a new vacuum anyway a year from now. Would you like to see what's available?"

        I would do that especially if they brought in a high end vacuum cleaner for repairs. They are used to spending a lot of money on vacuums, and their current vacuum is broken.

        Most vacuum retailers are primarily fix-it shops that also sell. The service department is where most of the buyers come in. That's where I would concentrate my efforts.

        And only show two vacuums side by side. Never go from vacuum to vacuum.
        Ask several questions like;
        "Do you prefer upright or canisters?"
        "Do you have pets?"
        "Do you have allergies?"
        "What are you using now?"
        "What do you like about it?"
        "What do you not like about it?"
        "Is there a budget you need to stay in?"

        After they answer these questions, choose two vacuums to demonstrate...and compare them to each other.

        Read the book Selling Retail by John Lawhon. It's the best book written on selling at the high end in a retail store.
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        • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
          Good stuff here, Claude. This approach can be modeled in many other businesses.

          Ron
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          • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
            Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

            Good stuff here, Claude. This approach can be modeled in many other businesses.

            Ron
            Thanks.

            The qualifying questions serve several purposes;
            It allows you to establish that you are an expert.
            It makes it seem like you are selling the the best vacuum for their specific situation.
            It helps condition then to accept a more expensive product.
            Because you are asking questions about them, it separates you from any other retailer.
            It helps keep them from shopping in other stores...or asking about every product you have.
            It helps them justify buying because the product is "just for them".

            The only reason I ask abut budget is because I tend to get three answers;
            "I want a great vacuum cleaner, but won't spend more than $150."
            "I want something good, but don't want to spend $1,000"
            "WalMart has a vacuum cleaner for $49, can you beat the price?'

            This answer tells me what I should do next.
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  • Profile picture of the author umc
    I sent up the Claude signal and he came and killed it. You can certainly put your own money into marketing or maybe do your own social media reach without much cost, but you need to maximize the people that are coming in now, and he just gave you the keys.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by umc View Post

      I sent up the Claude signal and he came and killed it. You can certainly put your own money into marketing or maybe do your own social media reach without much cost, but you need to maximize the people that are coming in now, and he just gave you the keys.

      Thanks.

      If you want the best thing you can do to bring in buyers to buy from you personally...

      Create vacuum cleaner presentations, video them, and post them on Youtube.

      These are selling presentations. Ten minutes or more. Make sure the city and state and the word "Vacuum Cleaner" are in the title.

      Every week, in my own store, I get people drive 30 miles or more to buy from me personally, because the watched a video I produced on Youtube.

      Nothing I do outside the store comes close to the results I get from these demonstration videos.

      Film them at the store. (of course ask permission). These videos will bring in people to buy...not look...buy...from you.

      Demonstrate the higher profit machines, because they will be coming in to buy that particular vacuum cleaner.

      "The Claude Signal"...made me laugh.
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      • Profile picture of the author Soakingitallup
        I don't even know how to begin to thank you. Free things I can do that I can see will have an immediate impact. I'm going to put your scripts into action tomorrow. And see if I can do the YouTube videos as well.

        You're right we are a repair shop that sells vacuums and I have had a problem transitioning to getting them to look at new vacuums because everyone else just takes their info and shoos them away hoping to call them with a huge repair bill and talking them into buying over the phone or when they come back.

        I have been more proactive and been asking them if they have a few minutes to see what's new but I think the way you put it will create a greater desire.

        I'll keep everyone updated on the results. Thanks everyone for the input
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      • Profile picture of the author savidge4
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        If you want the best thing you can do to bring in buyers to buy from you personally...
        This persons "Co-workers" are gonna be so pissed! LOL "Is Soak here?" "is Soak here?" "When will Soak be in?" I need to come in to buy a vacuum is Soak in today?" WORSE than "Are we there yet?"
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        • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
          Originally Posted by savidge4 View Post

          This persons "Co-workers" are gonna be so pissed! LOL "Is Soak here?" "is Soak here?" "When will Soak be in?" I need to come in to buy a vacuum is Soak in today?" WORSE than "Are we there yet?"
          Naw, they won't even notice the things they should be replicating.

          But, they will envy the success (money) And, they will undermine and sabotage at every opportunity. I will guarantee that.

          The disconnect never dawns on them.

          They're too busy justifying their failure.

          Ron
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          • Profile picture of the author Soakingitallup
            The best part of it all is that since they are used to using the phone as their main prospecting tool after repair estimates that the rule is if they ask for you that you get the sale even if the other person spends an hour with them that day. I think the YouTube will work great for me in this situation.
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            • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
              Originally Posted by Soakingitallup View Post

              The best part of it all is that since they are used to using the phone as their main prospecting tool after repair estimates that the rule is if they ask for you that you get the sale even if the other person spends an hour with them that day. I think the YouTube will work great for me in this situation.
              See if you can take in the repair yourself, and price it out right then.

              For some reason, this entire industry is used to taking in the vacuum and then calling the customer later....when the customer is no longer in the store...and is unable to buy a new vacuum cleaner. I have no idea why this is done, but it kills any momentum in selling.

              I always price out my repairs when the customer is standing there. That way, if they think the repair is more than they want to spend, I can show them a new vacuum cleaner. A third of my high end sales are made that way. The customer walks out with a new vacuum cleaner, and I don't have to do a repair. Forcing a customer to come in twice makes no sense.

              The videos aren't for you to profit when someone else does the work. The videos are to bring buyers into the store asking for you....that otherwise wouldn't have come in.

              Never tell any of the other salespeople how much you are making. I did that once (my check was much bigger) and they instantly started sabotaging my sales.

              Search on Youtube "Vacuum cleaners Wooster Ohio". You'll see the videos I've made to demonstrate my vacuums. Use an Iphone. Record demonstrations. Upload to Youtube. Believe me, you'll be the only guy in town doing it. And put the price of the vacuum in the video. You want people coming in to buy, not calling to ask how much the vacuum cleaner is.
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              • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
                Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

                See if you can take in the repair yourself, and price it out right then.

                For some reason, this entire industry is used to taking in the vacuum and then calling the customer later....when the customer is no longer in the store...and is unable to buy a new vacuum cleaner. I have no idea why this is done, but it kills any momentum in selling.

                I always price out my repairs when the customer is standing there. That way, if they think the repair is more than they want to spend, I can show them a new vacuum cleaner. A third of my high end sales are made that way. The customer walks out with a new vacuum cleaner, and I don't have to do a repair. Forcing a customer to come in twice makes no sense.

                The videos aren't for you to profit when someone else does the work. The videos are to bring buyers into the store asking for you....that otherwise wouldn't have come in.

                Never tell any of the other salespeople how much you are making. I did that once (my check was much bigger) and they instantly started sabotaging my sales.

                Search on Youtube "Vacuum cleaners Wooster Ohio". You'll see the videos I've made to demonstrate my vacuums. Use an Iphone. Record demonstrations. Upload to Youtube. Believe me, you'll be the only guy in town doing it. And put the price of the vacuum in the video. You want people coming in to buy, not calling to ask how much the vacuum cleaner is.
                Claude, I've never seen you post much about any experiences you might have had selling vacuum cleaners to small businesses.

                Did you have any success stories you'd care to share?

                Ron
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                • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                  Originally Posted by Ron Lafuddy View Post

                  Claude, I've never seen you post much about any experiences you might have had selling vacuum cleaners to small businesses.

                  Did you have any success stories you'd care to share?

                  Ron
                  Ron; I've sold plenty to small business owners(in their home). And I sell plenty to businesses now (from my store).

                  But I learned over the first few years...several dead ends. How to not make a sale.

                  And trying to demonstrate a high end vacuum cleaner in a place of business is one way to guarantee them not buying. There are interruptions, cheap low pile carpet, it isn't their home, and both spouses are not there.

                  Other ways to waste tons of time are;
                  Trying to sell in bulk to an institution. I called this "Big deal dementia" New people have great ideas...one is "My brother is in the army. If I can get the Army to look at these, they will buy thousands".....another idea is "The ghost sale", where they are told that the customer will buy later...and so the rep keeps assuming they have that sale in the bag...sometimes even asking me to give them a pay advance on that sale. These sales never materialize. And new reps never believe they are wasting their time, they have to experience it several times before it sinks in.

                  They also believe that if they show their vacuum to one spouse, that they will buy because "they told me they make all the buying decisions". These sale materialize less than 2% of the time. And will suck the life out of you.

                  Selling a $2,000 vacuum cleaner requires that you are in their home and no place else. Their trade-in has to be there...the new vacuum has to be demonstrated on their carpet and furniture...shown their own dirt, and Both husband and wife have to be there for the full presentation.

                  I've done presentations on porches, in churches, at retail stores, in offices, in nursing home, in retirement apartment buildings, in campers.....and never made a sale.

                  It just isn't the same as selling marketing services to a store owner. Selling a $300 lightweight vacuum? Sure, but not a $2,000 system.

                  I have sold vacuums to groups however. It can be in my store, but is much better if it's in one of the people's homes. I sold eight $1,500 vacuum cleaners in one demonstration once. It was during a party, and the couple insisted I do the presentation.

                  The next day seven people cancelled....the people who didn't live there. It just wasn't their dirt....their children didn't live and play there.....I hadn't taken their trade in....

                  Selling a high end vacuum cleaner in people's homes isn't the same as in a store.

                  People come in the store to buy....or at least are shopping, or need their vacuum repaired. And our vacuums are mostly $500-800.

                  When I was selling in people homes, they never ....I mean never thought they were going to buy a vacuum cleaner before I did my demonstration. Most had even promised (each other ) that they were not going to buy. I nearly always started from zero. Even with referrals.

                  By the way, there are "once in a lifetime exceptions". I've sold vacuums to two blind people, to a couple during a power outage...at night....and to several Amish people by me describing it to them...and never turning it on. But these things work so rarely, I wouldn't do any of these demonstrations again.

                  Here is what I did for a living;
                  I sold a product that nobody asked me about or was interested in. Before I showed up at their door, the idea of a new vacuum cleaner was the furthest thing from their mind. They always already had a vacuum cleaner that worked. And they can buy the average vacuum cleaner for less that 10% of what I'm going to charge them. They have never heard of me or the brand I sell.

                  And remember, I'm a door to door salesman. Nobody is trusted less. Their guard is always up when I start.

                  And they have to decide to buy...while I was there.
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                  • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
                    Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

                    And they have to decide to buy...while I was there.
                    And that is the result of all of that work and improvement, and the difference between Joe average and a winner.

                    Most anyone can do it if they apply, but most do not go that extra few steps to the top of the mountain and quit just before they see the view.
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                    • Profile picture of the author Ron Lafuddy
                      Originally Posted by tryinhere View Post

                      And that is the result of all of that work and improvement, and the difference between Joe average and a winner.

                      Most anyone can do it if they apply, but most do not go that extra few steps to the top of the mountain and quit just before they see the view.
                      Would have to disagree. It takes a certain intestinal fortitude, courage and determination to achieve that kind of mastery.

                      Most do not have what it takes. I have watched people choose failure, even when they had a "gun to the head" type of situation, they were facing.

                      It's tragic.

                      Ron
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                    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                      Originally Posted by tryinhere View Post

                      And that is the result of all of that work and improvement, and the difference between Joe average and a winner.

                      Most anyone can do it if they apply, but most do not go that extra few steps to the top of the mountain and quit just before they see the view.
                      For some types of selling, yes.

                      But even selling vacuum cleaners in a retail setting, there are a thousand ways to improve your chance for a sale...and thousands of ways to guarantee they won't buy.

                      In retail, I have to say that 90% of what I know (on how to increase my store sales) I learned the first year. I had a great mentor that taught me a lot.

                      But in home sales? Most of what I learned came in the last couple of decades. It's almost impossible to describe how much you need to know and apply...to make in home sales at a high level. Even the people who have been selling for 20 years are almost certainly doing the same thing they did in year one.

                      In all my years selling in home, I have met less than ten salespeople that had a deep understanding of how the process works. It's not because the others are stupid, but the industry doesn't attract many "students of the game".
                      Misterme, a member here, is one of them. He wrote a book on answering sales objections that I recommend.
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                      • Profile picture of the author misterme
                        Thank you so much for admiring me that you even mentioned me for a quick moment. But I have a quick question. If people coming in for repairs make for a good pool of potential buyers, then how about instead of vacuum demo videos, creating videos meant to attract people with broken vacuum cleaners? You know,something to make them come in allegedly for the best repair deal or something? Just wondering.
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                        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                          Originally Posted by misterme View Post

                          Thank you so much for admiring me that you even mentioned me for a quick moment. But I have a quick question. If people coming in for repairs make for a good pool of potential buyers, then how about instead of vacuum demo videos, creating videos meant to attract people with broken vacuum cleaners? You know,something to make them come in allegedly for the best repair deal or something? Just wondering.
                          My dear furry little friend;

                          I do that as well. I have a few hundred videos about vacuum cleaners. Some are product demonstrations (the most profitable videos). But most of the videos are showing how to do repairs, or how to diagnose problems. These videos give us parts sales from here and out of our area. But they also bring in repairs.

                          In vacuum cleaner specialty retail the customers are aging the same as store owners.

                          In the entire industry, nearly all store owners are in their sixties and seventies. And almost all my vacuum customers are over 45 years old. It's a dying industry.
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                          • Profile picture of the author animal44
                            Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

                            In the entire industry, nearly all store owners are in their sixties and seventies. And almost all my vacuum customers are over 45 years old. It's a dying industry.
                            Perhaps I should rephrase that...
                            Do people under 45 not buy vacuum cleaners? Or do they buy online rather than from local stores...? Or something else...?
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                            • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                              Originally Posted by animal44 View Post

                              Perhaps I should rephrase that...
                              Do people under 45 not buy vacuum cleaners? Or do they buy online rather than from local stores...? Or something else...?
                              They buy online. They also buy from infomercials, although those people tend to be older. Maybe half of my customers actually went online to buy a vacuum cleaner and found my videos directing them back to my store.

                              There are several vacuum cleaners I don't sell, because customers can buy them cheaper at Wal-Mart...or on Amazon....than I can get them at wholesale.

                              Nearly every part, bag, filter, or belt can be found on Amazon or E-bay for less than my wholesale cost. I'm not complaining, it's just a reality.

                              I strongly suspect that the vacuum cleaner retail specialty shops will be gone in ten years.

                              Half are already gone from ten years ago.
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                              • Profile picture of the author yukon
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                                Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

                                They buy online. They also buy from infomercials, although those people tend to be older. Maybe half of my customers actually went online to buy a vacuum cleaner and found my videos directing them back to my store.

                                There are several vacuum cleaners I don't sell, because customers can buy them cheaper at Wal-Mart...or on Amazon....than I can get them at wholesale.

                                Nearly every part, bag, filter, or belt can be found on Amazon or E-bay for less than my wholesale cost. I'm not complaining, it's just a reality.

                                I strongly suspect that the vacuum cleaner retail specialty shops will be gone in ten years.

                                Half are already gone from ten years ago.



                                I've noticed the few local vacuum cleaner stores in my area are diversifying, mostly quilting and the usual sewing machines. I'm not sure that's going to save the farm but I guess they're trying to hang on.
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                                • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                                  Originally Posted by yukon View Post

                                  I've noticed the few local vacuum cleaner stores in my area are diversifying, mostly quilting and the usual sewing machines. I'm not sure that's going to save the farm but I guess they're trying to hang on.
                                  Lots of vacuum cleaner stores sell other things. Usually sewing machines. We also sell high end air purifiers, high end heaters, ceiling fans, and my wife's crafts.

                                  Most of the stores making real money are selling sewing machines. They are the ones that do marketing the best.

                                  The ones that are hurting the most are the repair shops.
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  • Profile picture of the author Melania Macias
    There are many avenues you can take to get business. Social media advertising is the way to start. Facebook ads and targeting your area, age, gender, interests, etc and being very detailed on your audience. For $5 a day to run an add can draw in more clients and more revenue for you. If you chose to run ads, make sure you study up on it. It's easy to waste money if you just jump in.
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  • Profile picture of the author joekane
    It's all about creating reasons why they need a new vacuum.

    People usually only consider getting a new vacuum cleaner when their old one breaks.

    Do you offer repair services? If you do, advertise on craigslist that you do vacuum cleaner repair as well as on Facebook. They call you and ask for you when they come into the store. There is your opportunity to sell them a new one.

    Also, contact local carpet stores, cleaners, etc... and strike up deals with them. Offer them an incentive for providing you leads.

    For example...

    Tell them to let their customers know how important it is that they use a proper vacuum cleaner on their new or freshly shampooed carpet. He hands them your business card with his name on the back. For every sale they generate, give them a $20 Visa.

    Hope that helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author TrafficQueen
    Banned
    I would be approaching cleaning companies and carpenters.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheMentorGuy
    Banned
    I would be contacting business that required the use of vacuum cleaners on a large scale. Cleaning companies and maybe certain tradesman.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by TheMentorGuy View Post

      I would be contacting business that required the use of vacuum cleaners on a large scale. Cleaning companies and maybe certain tradesman.
      I understand why you said that, but janitorial supply companies sell commercial vacuum cleaners wholesale to cleaning companies.

      I have retail vacuum cleaner customers that clean offices, schools, restaurants...but they are a service nightmare.
      Vacuum cleaners are easy to break if you aren't the one that paid for it, and that's why I don't go after commercial customers. They come in and buy, but it's the low profit commercial machines that they normally buy.
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  • Profile picture of the author Omiro
    Facebook and see if you can target in-market users.

    Some kind of a giveaway that would target interested shoppers and get them in the store
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