A faux finisher once ended a seminar by saying “You’re selling a product that nobody needs,” the point being that you need a bang-up marketing approach to be successful. But maybe we do need it—these days we can all use some decorative coatings on our walls and in our lives! Still, you might need to do some extra convincing to get some customers to go “beyond the conventional pail” and try these finishes as an accent or even over a whole room.
We consulted two suppliers: Golden Paintworks (makers of LifeStyle Finishes) and Old Fashioned Milk Paint, about their experience with faux finishes and the strategies they use to increase awareness of these products. As something that is often seen as an addition to a paint job rather than a necessity, companies must create opportunities for customers to realize just how much these products add to their finished look.
Dana Rice from Golden Paintworks utilizes social media to get the word out. She discussed how beneficial it can be to hook up your customers with the company’s social media pages. This offers a way to link customers to some “How To Apply” videos, which Rice feels is a must with faux products. She also finds it important to hold informative seminars for homeowners and contractors, since despite all that social media has to offer, an in-store display might just be the tipping point when deciding on a purchase. “When it comes to the full visual and tactile experience of falling in love with a product that reflects your own personal Lifestyle, nothing beats a fantastic store display,” she said.
You can also help your clients tap into the customization frenzy, as more and more people are looking to personalize their living space with both color and texture. A customer raised on a diet of off-white might love to hear about some new options! Rice suggests some questions that may steer them towards your LifeStyle Finishes display:
• Are you aware that you can personalize your living space to reflect your lifestyle?
• Would you be interested in bringing the beauty of nature’s textures into your home or perhaps doing something a little more individualized or elegant?
• Which ones do you like? Lifestyle Finishes are easy to apply—choosing from the 16 options is the hard part!
Anne Thibeau, president at Old Fashioned Milk Paint, uses social media in a different way. “Posting photos of projects on social media platforms is a good way to show how the finish will look on different surfaces,” said Thibeau. “Milk paint is distinctive in that it can be used to make something look old and worn with very little effort—usually less steps are involved than with other paints since milk paint can easily give a surface a time worn, old world look.” For customers who are into shabby chic, farmhouse chic, or even historic restoration, this is a great product to take us back to those old chic times. Or not: “It lends itself to a modern, sleek aesthetic as well,” she added.
Again, seeing is believing for your customers. “Sample boards, display signs, and seminars are all great—many dealers who sell the Old Fashioned formula have events where customers bring their own small pieces in to paint,” Thibeau said. “Others may offer occasional demos.” If your store is on social media, see if your customers will upload their accomplishments so others can see the product on a variety of surfaces.
Impress them with product’s ease of use, she recommends, as well as the ability to create new colors by combining the pre-packaged powders either in ratios determined by the company or by experimenting on their own.
Need to Take a Powder?
In addition to the faux aspect of Milk Paint, Thibeau reported how the company differentiates itself from other manufacturers through the way their paints are created. The soft and chalky finish that Milk Paint leaves is a result of the how the product’s dry powder is mixed with water to make the paint. “We are the first to admit that many pro painters may balk at the idea of having to mix up paint before use, but it is quite easy to do with a bucket and a paint paddle on a drill,” she observed. The paint also appeals to a “greener” crowd because of the chemical-free powder that is used as the base, she said.
It’s these differences that can help you sell to consumers who are increasingly looking for a customized experience. “Milk paint is definitely not ‘just paint,’ and mixing a dry powder with water into paint it can be a bit difficult of a concept for some to wrap their heads around,” she acknowledged—but people have been stirring up Kool-Aid and Metamucil for generations, so mixing powder into water is not a novel concept. More and more people are hearing about milk paint, and now part of your mission as a retailer is to show them that it’s not really that hard to mix up. Once they give it a try, they’ll most likely be a convert, said Anne. “Explain that the finish is soft and chalky like the popular chalk style paints on the market, but that this all-natural paint has been around forever and is the original paint with that soft, chalky look.”
Need to Hear More?
As appealing as faux products are, you may be hesitant to add yet another product line to your inventory. Thibeau puts these uneasy feelings to rest. “It’s super easy to become a dealer,” she assured us. She highlighted the low minimums and great technical support that Old Fashioned Milk Paint offers to make these products easy to try out without making a large investment.
Dana Rice assures retailers of a smooth transition into faux products as well. “Lifestyle Finishes can be displayed in a compact profit center with minimal SKUs,” she said. “Every product is tintable, so you don’t have to guess which colors will be fast-movers. We provide tinting and spraying guidelines for you in order to take away the guesswork.”
Plus, adds Rice, it’s a great finish for contractors; your sales pitch to them should emphasize ease of use with great results. “Show them how these easy-to-apply products can differentiate them from their competitors that only apply boring off-white,” she urged. “Contractors can easily learn a skill that will get their phones ringing and referrals flying in.”
Plus, it’s contagious. When one person sees it, the next person wants it! “The latest looks that are ahead of the curve will get your customer’s neighbors (or building visitors in the case of a commercial project) asking where they can get that look for their next project. With products like these, your painters won’t have to compete at the lowest price, they can earn a fair wage for the time they spend on the job.”
Along with the how-to videos, said Rice, the company has seven Material Application Specialists on staff to answer product application questions. And Golden Artist is there to help you get the word out. “To support our dealers, we advertise in trade magazines and participate in national trade shows that are geared towards the professional painters,” she concluded.
PPG has renewed its sponsorship of Independent We Stand, an organization devoted to promoting independent businesses in all industries. Through Independent We Stand marketing campaigns and social media, PPG will work alongside co-sponsor STIHL and associate sponsor Do it Best to increase awareness about the importance and strong economic benefits of buying local.
“It’s because of companies like PPG that we can increase the footprint of the buy local movement and help independent businesses thrive,” said Bill Brunelle, co-founder of IWS. “With their support, we can offer free resources to thousands of businesses. The more successful these independents are, the more they reinvest and the bigger economic impacts they will have on their communities.”
“PPG is strongly committed to our valued independent dealer partners,” said John Trenta, senior marketing manager, PPG. “We are thrilled to continue our sponsorship of Independent We Stand as we have a joint passion for building relationships with independent retailers to help them grow their businesses and to service their customers.”
Independent We Stand’s website provides several options for consumers to find and support independent businesses. Businesses can join at different levels for a variety of services; you can also register your business to make it easier for consumers to find you and stop in.
HERO appoints Tony Blatchford
I.C.T.C. Holdings Corp. (HERO Products Group) has appointed Tony Blatchford as Canadian Sales Manager. Tony’s industry experience comes from his long-time association with one of Canada’s largest paint companies and more recently with one of the world’s largest paint companies as a member of the senior leadership team for its Canadian division.
“Tony’s experience working for two significant paint companies will give HERO a new perspective and understanding towards the planning and implementation of programs that will enhance HERO’s position in the marketplace.,” said Steve Balmer, President and COO of I.C.T.C. Tony can be reached at email@example.com.
Increasing automation in the construction industry could displace or replace as much as 49% of the America’s blue-collar construction workforce (2.7 million workers) and eliminate nearly 500,000 non-construction jobs by 2057, according to a new study by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“Advancements in technology have already dramatically re-shaped American manufacturing and eliminated millions of blue-collar, middle-class jobs,” said study co-author and Project for Middle Class Renewal Director, Dr. Robert Bruno.
MEPI and U of I researchers highlight a decades-long decline of blue-collar labor as a total share of construction costs and the growing share of capital—which includes machinery, equipment, and other technologies— to show that the industry is well positioned to move towards increased automation. “Whether through the use of robotics, virtual reality, or other technological innovations, automation has been increasing productivity, reducing costs, and improving quality,” said study co-author Jill Manzo. “With capital growing, the industry struggling with skilled labor shortages, and our nation facing growing infrastructure needs, it is fair to conclude that the pace of automation is likely to accelerate in the decades to come.
”The study also notes that between 2010 and 2017, 2.6 million workers who moved from construction into other jobs saw their wages drop an average of 32%. It concludes that if this pattern held for all blue-collar construction workers potentially at risk of being displaced by automation by 2057, it would mean an annual loss of $41 billion in labor income (in today’s dollars) and the elimination of as many as 500,000 nonconstruction jobs.
To address the challenges posed by future automation of the construction industry, MEPI and U of I researchers propose a set of policy recommendations aimed at ensuring new workers are trained to meet the industry’s future labor force needs, and to help re-train current workers who could be displaced in the future.
“It’s safer to have 20 customers owing you $100,000 than one who owes you $2,000,000.”
My daughter was home from college for the holidays. I could tell because there were piles of stuff all over our house that were not there two days before! Multiple piles of laundry; piles of shoes (everywhere!); piles of notes, books, and study guides; and of course the pile of stuff that could not be categorized into one of the existing piles. I don’t mind the laundry, but do we need so many piles?
It’s not a bad idea to have a conversation about consolidating with a teen. But it’s somewhat akin to telling your dog to save his treats for when he’s hungrier than he is now: he hears the instructions and seems to be paying attention, but he’s not going to do it! Consolidation is not just for the piles in my house, it also affects our lives as independent paint retailers. Over the last few decades, most industries in the U.S. have grown more efficient through consolidation, and the paint industry is no exception. I am not referring to the consolidation in manufacturers,, though that has certainly happened. The pile I’m sorting through today is the consolidation of independent paint retailers.
As little as a decade ago, if you threw a dead cat at an ALLPRO meeting, it would likely land on a one- or two-store independent paint retailer. Single stores or small-localized chains were the norm and the biggest had ten or so, with just a few in that realm. Dealers with that many stores almost always had them in one small geographic or trading area.
Now we have mega-dealers all over the United States and they continue to grow in store count. Independents with 20 or more stores are commonplace and exist in many of the major markets around the country. Many of these dealers stretch over multiple states or hundreds of miles, a phenomenon which would have been hard to imagine decades ago. There are significant benefits to some of this consolidation, but it should not be embraced without some thought for the troubling downside of this trend.
It’s easy to see how this started. Manufacturers concern themselves with market share and trends and need to take action to defend their brands. By going to regional consolidators (as these uber-dealers are called in the boardrooms), it allows manufacturers to find one person with parallel interests rather than trying to bring together a room-full of independents with disparate interests. Even more challenging for manufacturers are markets where few independents exist and then trying to create a room-full of like-minded independents. It’s easier, and you could argue more efficient, to build and execute one growth plan rather than many. But then are they really independents?
Here’s the problem: markets where there used to be 20 single-store dealers now have one dealer with 20 stores. While that dealer has gained some efficiency over the single store and small chains, there are risks that the manufacturers are ignoring. Credit risk is not necessarily tops on that list, but it’s up there! Large companies look at their outstanding accounts receivable as a portfolio. It’s much safer to have 20 customers each owing you $100,000 than it is to have one who owes you $2,000,000. Additionally is the risk of having all your sales eggs in one basket! This is the area where I think manufacturers are most exposed.
Sales performance will struggle at some point in the absence of competition and some of that competition should come from other independents. As a group, we drive each other to do our best. There are certainly some “skaters” in our ranks, but in markets where independents are strong, there are always a handful of strong businessmen and women succeeding in growing their market share. I would gladly take 20 entrepreneurs working to keep my brand strong over one general manager with 20 stores!
I am not advocating we go back to the days where markets have countless numbers of single store dealers, many of whom are barely making it. For the channel to prosper, we need dealers who are successful. Long-term though, a multitude of small chains with well-developed leadership is by far the better outcome for all than the path we are on. Programs designed to help a dealer bring his single store success formula from one store to five will yield more dividends and significantly more diversity for those that profit from us, than a program to help a 30 store chain grow to 40!
With 2017 safely in the books and the calendar flipped over to 2018, it’s easy to look towards the future of this industry with excitement. Many companies in the paint & sundries segment have had stellar years, while some have struggled a bit. Acquisitions have not slowed as more and more large manufacturers absorb, buy out, merge and acquire more of the smaller manufacturers out there. Great new products abound for our industry, and we will continue to show you as many as we can because they could have a big impact on your bottom line, selling products that you can’t get at the big boxes.
Time for some “Thank You’s.” I want to personally thank each of our advertising partners, large, medium, and small, for their commitments this year and their continued support. These folks you see every month in our pages help to pay our bills and keep these magazines coming out to you monthly. They are happy for the opportunity to reach you independents, who for many are the lifeblood of their business. Whether they are selling a $1 item or a $10,000 piece of equipment, their products are designed to make painting a better experience, and when you are selling these high-quality products that can’t be found at the boxes, you are separating your stores from the competition and making your stores a destination for all those looking for a few quality items to finish off their honey-do’s.
I also want to thank all you readers, those of you who read us cover-to-cover monthly, and those who choose to read us online. You ARE the reason we do this in the first place! My dad, Chris Mugler, knew he wanted to, like you, differentiate himself from the competition. He felt the need to supply a magazine that would be helpful to independents—one that contained best business practices of other quality independents, showcased quality products that would give you an edge over your competitors, and was directed to you—not the big boxes, not flooring stores, not interior designers, and not stores selling window treatments…he wanted to do whatever he could to help the independent paint & sundries dealer, and we continue to do that as we head into our 27th year in publication.
Lastly, I want to thank my outstanding staff. Jerry Rabushka, my associate publisher and editor, remains the most qualified voice in our industry. He is a strong proponent of the independent, a strong believer in promoting the best business practices and products, and one of the most talented and creative people I know! Kathy Tongay-Carr never ceases to amaze me with her creative layout designs throughout the magazines, and the cover designs that standout among all the other magazines in our industry.
Our newest writers, Josh Bohm and Miranda Lipton, have taken to the industry with very little difficulty. Josh holds down another job while taking on writing assignments, and Miranda continues to write for us as she studies and continues to make good grades at THE Ohio State University. Sue Oden has been a sales rep for us for more than seven years now. She loves the industry and loves dealing with her clients. She’s a single mom with four kids, one of which has special needs, and her days are long and hard, but she continues to be a ray of sunshine for all of us here. Shirley Schomaker is in her second tour of duty with us. I scratch my head sometimes wondering where we would be without her. She keeps our production schedule clean, maintains the subscribers list for both magazines, does our billing, and never ever complains about the occasional odd jobs I ask her to do around the office.
To our advertisers, to our readers, and to my staff, thank you so much for all you do. I wish each and every one of you an excellent and prosperous 2018!
What better way to end this year and start the next than with a buffet of new products? We’ve been about new products since our inception in 1992 and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. Say Happy New Year to your customers—and your shelves—with new products, new packaging, and new formulas! (Information supplied by the manufacturers.)
Graffiti Can’t Hibernate franmar.com
Blue Bear® Porous Surface Graffiti Remover from Franmar safely removes unwanted graffiti, marker, and other “tags” from porous surfaces. Maintain original appearances without the need for repainting. It is VOC compliant, has virtually no odor, and is made with 100% American Grown Soybeans.
Give Rust a Rest richardspaint.com
Richards Rust Shield QD 1700 is a high solids interior/exterior quick dry enamel with the following benefits: 1-2 hour recoat, corrosion resistance, built for production, rust preventative, rich gloss finish, and availability in a variety of bases and colors.
Stucco Sticker itape.com
Stucco Masking Tape from Intertape Polymer Group is a durable, moisture resistant polyethelyne-backed tape with a rubber-based pressure-sensitive adhesive that bonds well to most surfaces. It is designed to offer a high degree of conformability without excessive stretch. It is great for many construction projects including seaming poly, flooring underlayument, and surface protection.
Sanders Shaping Up festool.com
Festool introduces three new, “hybrid” sander models: the delta-shaped DTSC 400, the 5″ ETSC 125, and the rectangular RTSC 400. Each model provides the same functionality of its corded counterpart but with hybrid power options and can be used cordless or corded. The sanders are balanced with a unique ergonomic battery for optimum performance and handling that provides up to 30 minutes of runtime at full power.
Listen Here! 3m.com
The 3M™ WorkTunes™ Connect Wireless Hearing Protector helps provide hearing protection that paint crews need for days spent indoors around drills, nail guns and oscillating tools. It keeps users connected with its integrated Bluetooth® wireless technology, allows them to make and take phone calls on-the-job, and adds an element of fun to the work day with its high fidelity speakers that stream users’ entertainment of choice. This new hearing protector is easy to use, with a simple single-button interface, and Audio Assist for easy setup.
Livin’ the Lifestyle lifestylefinishes.com
Golden Paintworks’ Lifestyle Finishes™ bring the beauty of nature inside with a line of texture products that offer a wide variety of applications and effects. From the appearance of pale, smooth plaster to coarse, sandy rock, a diversity of looks is available by using these materials straight from the can or adding tints and glazes for an even greater range. From subtle to dramatic, elegant to rustic, the product line expands your offering with a small footprint of tintable, easy-to-apply, 100% acrylic products. Give customers the trending looks they see in magazines and on social media!
Just Not the Same pfcrags.com
Thanks to Intex DIY, paint rags will never be the same again! Newly repackaged, PFC™ (Precision-Fiber™ Cloth) rags are sold by piece count, not by weight, and are designed for consistency from rag to rag, bag to bag, and box to box. Made in the USA, better quality than new or recycled cloth rags—you’ll find your rag business picking up! Ideal for staining as well.
High Capacity stanleytool.com
Stanley high capacity polyester roller covers are designed to perform well with all paints and stains. Rollers are manufactured with high density shed-resistant fabric which holds a large amount of paint and releases it evenly for a super fast finish. A sturdy solvent resistant core provides easy cleaning and reuse.
Sun, Reformulated ppgpaints.com
PPG Paints Sun-Proof® exterior latex house & trim paint, a trusted product in the PPG portfolio since 1900, has been reformulated with improved characteristics. It is formulated to deliver outstanding dirt-resistance properties, making it easy to rinse away surface dirt and grime with soap and water. Additionally, the product’s flash rust resistance ensures that rust from items such as nail heads won’t bleed through the surface. VOC levels are less than 50 grams per liter, making the product VOC-compliant in all regulated areas.
Staple Scraper warnertool.com
The wall scraper has been a staple in every painter’s tool box for over 60 years. Warner has brought its ProGrip ergonomic technology to this product to provide the same comfortable grip professionals expect of quality tools in this category. The new release incorporates the ergonomic handle and a new blade protector for improved safety and blade protection during storage and transport.
A Century of 75 benjaminmoore.com
Benjamin Moore’s Century is a new dimension in paint formulated specifically for high-end designers. The convergence of science and craftsmanship in Century produced the industry’s first-ever Soft Touch Matte finish to enrich a curated collection of 75 brand new colors. The formulation is so intricately balanced, Century is only made in small batches that are pre-mixed and sealed. It offers an unrivaled depth and richness that transforms rooms—and the entire color experience.
Mouse in the House blackanddecker.com
BLACK+DECKER’s first-ever cordless sander—the new Black+Decker™ 20V MAX Lithium Ion Mouse® Sander offers the power, performance, and maneuverability needed to give projects an ultra-smooth finish. Its 12,000 OPM speed allows for quick debris removal. Its high-performance dust collection system ensures workspaces stay clean. Compact & ergonomic design provides control and accessibility in tight spaces; detail finger attachment helps sand in hard-to-reach spaces.
Paint From Across the Pond mylands.com
This British-made high-end paint is coming to America! “Our unique range of paint and wood finishes deliver something very special,” says the company. “That’s why we’re the first choice for the most exacting residences and the most visually stunning film and theatre sets. Over the years, we have perfected the art of making paint with unique recipes, superior ingredients and an unwavering dedication to quality.” email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Light in Your Pocket bulldogpower.com
The 200 Lumen Pocket Light (11179) is a powerful light ideal for inspections and fitting in tight places. It feature a tremendous amount of light in a convenient aluminum pen body with a rotating clip and powerful magnetic base. Available in a 12 unit counter display ideal for driving point of purchase sales opportunities.
You’re in Lux! fauxfx.com
Faux Effects’ “New” StucoLux Shimmer™ has all the great qualities of original StucoLux with a subtle shimmer/sparkle…simply gorgeous! StucoLux Shimmer is a decorative, easy polishing mineral-based Venetian plaster. A creamy, smooth material, it glides on easily across most substrates. It has very good interior and exterior durability and provides beautiful undulations of color depth in the final finish.
Each year, the small business movement Independent We Stand helps consumers recognize the top small business in the country—businesses whose owners go out of their way to give back to their communities—with the Independent Small Business of the Year award (or Indie Award). The 2017 recipient is Massachusetts company Carr Hardware.
Family owned and operated since 1928, the company was founded by Sam Carr and purchased by the Raser family in 1962. Marshall Raser and his son Bart still handle business operations. With more than 100 total employees, each location offers its customers years of specialty experience. Carr Hardware will receive prizes with a combined value of more than $50,000 and has committed to donating its $5,000 cash award to a park revitalization project in Pittsfield, MA, home to the store’s main branch. The staff at the four Berkshires locations in Massachusetts and two in Northern Connecticut take pride in servicing the needs of their neighbors.
Employees are encouraged to volunteer in their communities and have served on volunteer fire departments and coached local sports teams. Most recently, through product and cash donations, Carr Hardware provided its customers with a platform to support hurricane relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. The store itself is involved with many local civic organizations.
Good for the Goose
Over a half a century ago, a large airplane hangar in West Los Angeles housed the notorious Spruce Goose aircraft, Howard Hughes’ massive wooden flying boat that was airborne for only one short flight. Now, that historic hangar is being refurbished and protected using products by TEX•COTE®, a nationwide manufacturer of infrared heat reflective architectural coatings.
The former Spruce Goose hangar, built by aircraft innovator Hughes in 1945 in Playa Vista, California, is being renovated for use as office space. The project’s architects were looking for an infrared heat reflective coating and a dark color that will last on the building and not fade, as well as provide energy savings. They chose Tex•Cote’s Reflect-Tec®, which will be applied to over 160,000 square feet of this historic metal building in a dark, rich color called Black Bean.
Reflect-Tec is a field-applied Kynar resin system using infrared technology. It will be used to coat all the exterior metal surfaces including many of the original galvanized steel and aluminum surfaces from the 1940s.
The Hughes H-4 Hercules, nicknamed the Spruce Goose, is now on public display at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
I learned very quickly in my freshman year of college that there are a few things that you can simply never have enough of: school spirit swag, sleep, and of course, the staple to every wardrobe, all things black. Irrelevant of the situations that I found myself in, I always seemed to need more black clothing! It makes sense. As a timeless color that can be dressed up or down, embellished with funky accessories or just be elegantly simple on its own, who wouldn’t need more black? From working on this article, it seems that my friends and I are not alone in our thinking. Black is trending in many more places than college campuses. Who knew?
Color in Black and White
PPG keyed in on the importance of black by selecting Black Flame (PPG1043-7) as its 2018 Color of the Year. PPG’s Senior Color Marketing Manager, Dee Schlotter, calls it a statement-making black, infused with an undertone of the deepest indigo. “The blend of two colors makes it incredibly versatile—it can be used on a statement wall, with a matte finish on a ceiling, with high gloss on a naturally-lit staircase, on the wall behind a flat screen, on cabinets, on interior and exterior doors, and in many more places,” she related.
It seems that black in combination with white is rooted even deeper than the Oreo cookie. It is a popular choice amongst some of our color experts because of the balance that it creates in any environment. “White and cream are classically combined with shades of black, providing a dramatic contrast. It is important to contrast it with these colors to bring some life into a space,” said Ashley Banbury, Senior Designer for Pratt & Lambert.
Benjamin Moore Color & Design Expert, Hannah Yeo, adds a twist to this combination: “The ever popular black and white combination layers well with graphic elements. Bring in bold strokes of geometric lines and pops of other colors to complete the contemporary look,” she advised.
For a different look, she suggested combining blacks with natural elements such as wood, slate and stone. “The rustic wood tone adds warmth, while matte black absorbs the light, creating a surprisingly restful quality. Those who seek more drama are using higher sheen,” said Yeo.
Too Much IS Enough
A common concern associated with black is the possibility of adding “too much drama” to the space. Color experts place a heavy emphasis on the lighting of the room when considering it. This one of the three key factors that Mary Lawlor, Manager of Color Marketing for Kelly-Moore Paints, looks for when considering the use of black. She has three questions you can propose to customers who are considering black—even if it’s your idea: Can the space you’re using it in support the drama, are you using it in a task-centric location like a kitchen or office, and if so, is there adequate lighting in the space?
According to Banbury, black with an undertone of another color will be most popular in 2018. “Brown that is almost black, such as Pratt & Lambert’s Obsidian (33-17), and Confidentia (29-17), are so close to black you will have to take a second look,” she said. “We have gone through a ‘cool’ phase in paint colors and now you are going to see colors warm these blacks back up. Adding some red, yellow and indigo adds warmth to this traditional color.”
Pratt and Lambert
The Door to Darkness
A reoccurring theme surrounding black is its potential to easily highlight or dramatize an aspect of a room. Lawlor described how. “Adding black on framing can energize a minimalistic environment. It’s a great way to add a touch of drama without undertaking a major design project,” she said. (See photo on page 11.)
Since black is so bold, Yeo suggests utilizing it in an entryway to make a memorable first-impression: “Whether it’s a formal foyer or an accent wall in a mudroom, dress it to your style,” she said. “Use contrasting lighter colors in the adjoining rooms to balance the darkness as you walk from room to room.”
Schlotter refers to black as instant sophistication. “Adding a black hue to an otherwise neutral space is an effortless way to impart a modern touch to a place that would otherwise require a more time-consuming addition,” she said.
Depending on the way it is used, she continued, it can show to great effect both inside and out. “Homeowners can boost their curb appeal with black shutters. Pair it with subtle yellow siding to convey a warm and welcoming atmosphere to guests, or with white-washed brick for a clean, modern look. Inside, black also works perfectly in a powder room,” Schlotter added. “Pair black walls and trim with matte black or burnished gold faucets for a classic statement. It goes with everything and takes the guesswork out of decorating.”
It is good to know there are others out there who share my love for this timeless color. And, while my dad’s care packages never fail to have their fill of Ohio State apparel and energy drinks…Dad: did you get the subtle hint? I need more black!
My daughter and I have finally come to an agreement on how her finances are handled while she’s away at Ohio State: she tells me what she wants and I provide it! We seem to argue much less since we have adopted this strategy!
All kidding aside, at almost 20, her needs (and wants) are significant compared to just a few years ago. While it would never be a good idea as a parent to give your child everything they ask for…at five, at least you could do it because she thinks small! At 20, we needed a better plan. What works for us now is honest conversation where we both talk about needs, ability to pay, priorities, and value. By having this conversation, we seem to land at a place where all her needs and many of her wants are met, all within a budget I can live with.
This open dialogue is a strategy that can work in your role as an independent paint retailer. Not too many months ago, I mentioned here in this column that I wanted to hire an outside sales rep to help my business grow. I only own two stores so this move will undoubtedly have a significant impact; it’s expensive for me and incurs a fair amount of risk compared to my size. I felt like I needed a partner to help mitigate some of that risk and get me to a place where I could be comfortable that I was setting myself up to succeed while also controlling my downside, if for some reason the plan failed.
I set up meetings with my two largest paint vendors and told them what I was thinking. In short: I wanted to put a sales rep on the road and I wanted them to help me pay for it. I got the same answer both times: “If we do this, what is our Return on Investment (ROI)?” The good news here is that all those long difficult negotiations with my daughter had prepared me for this battle. ROI is the business equivalent of “what’s in it for me?” I knew going into those meetings that in order to ask for investment to help my business grow, there had to be something in it for them. I was prepared! I had sales figures from previous reps that we had, sales forecasts (a fancy word for guesses), and even presented their likely ROI. I put a specific dollar amount in my “ask” and then working backwards—assuming a gross profit margin for them that is around an industry standard—I was able to show them exactly when they would get their money back.
The rest was just the back and forth of the process. We had conversations about what percentage of the rep’s time would be spent selling their specific products versus other brands, what is an acceptable amount of time in the stores (“NONE…get out and sell” is what they want to hear), how we get reimbursed, and other fairly easy topics to wrap up. By far the hardest part of the project was finding the right candidate because the negotiations were fairly straightforward. It all worked, a nice partnership was formed, and our new rep starts December 4th!
If you’re reading this and thinking “that seems like a lot of work: I’ve never done any forecasting or calculating ROI:” you’re wrong! The major manufacturers have plans and dollars in place to help their dealers grow. Without either dealer count or dealer same-store sales growth, manufacturers that sell to dealers will have no growth themselves. And growth is what they all want! So they will help you through this process and tell you what they want. You just need to help them fill in some of the blanks.
“Dad, I reeeeeally need the new iPhone” is no way to start a dialogue any more than a dealer saying. “pleeeeease, can I have a sales rep?” But a straightforward conversation about needs and how those dollars invested will bring returns is the way! My daughter will get the new iPhone because for her, my ROI is her smiles and hugs. But a paint manufacturer will want to see dollars and cents! So be clear about what you want and even more clear about how they’ll benefit. Then you’ve taken the first step in growing your business…and better yet, with other people’s money!