Fit For Fall Fixin’s

By Jerry Rabushka,

  Filed under: Feature

Heat Up Your Sales as the Weather Cools Down

Sales can be seasonal, for example, in some communities a pumpkin spice craze takes hold around October and won’t let up until trees and lights come down about January 7. Then pumpkin spice goes for 75% off right when nobody cares. Egg nog has an even smaller window: the time between when you take it off the shelf and read the calorie count. What can you do when autumn rolls around to make your store a seasonal stop? Pumpkin colored spice-scented paint? Sure, why not! We asked some suppliers for their ideas to keep traffic trying and buying as the temperature drops.


Keep Your Friends Close

Mike Mundwiller, Benjamin Moore’s Field Integration Manager, says this is a good time to step up your current relationships and start some new ones. “Targeting, calling on, and building relationships with facility maintenance targets should happen throughout the year but there should be an added sense of dedication during the fall,” he said­—and time is of the essence! “Many businesses are closing in on their end of year budgets. Some facilities may be looking for ways to invest in maintenance, especially if they are running under budget for the year.” Make sure you know what these folks have planned as the mercury drops, as many facilities use this time maintain equipment such as cooling towers or other exterior structures. “During the summer it’s not feasible to shut down equipment such as cooling towers, but I’ve seen many items painted as the season progresses and the weather starts to cool down.”

Make sure your inventory is ready for the season as well, so that your dogs of summer don’t become your turkeys of Thanksgiving or your ugly sweaters of Christmas. “Highlight exterior house paint that is formulated for lower temperatures,” Mike advises. “Having products available—in sufficient quantities—is at the top of the list of purchase drivers for your contractors.”


Easy on the Inside

Don’t want to pay your staff just to sit on their hands until Spring? Jim Scott of Great Scott National Sales in Burr Ridge, IL, is, a rep for Howard Products, and he provided some suggestions on how to keep your staff and your customers busy during the fall. For one, let everyone know you are changing along with the seasons. “Advertise season changes in your store or paint departments,” he advises.

Plenty of people get ready for holidays and spend money to do it, so why not have them spend it with you? “Fall is the time that many customers change the décor in their home,” said Scott, “so help them get ready for the holiday seasons with new paint products and accessories.” Of course, he adds, you can send them to your Howard Products display. It doesn’t take up a lot of room and lets people quickkly spur old tired furniture into holiday-party readiness. “Pull out worn and antique wood furniture and bring new life to it by restoring it with Howard Products Restor-A-Finish,” Scott recommends. “It’s a project that takes just a few minutes with a simple wipe-on, wipe-off process. White heat rings and watermarks, sun fade, oxidation, smoke damage, and other blemishes can be quickly blended away.”

From there, he added three quick tips:
• Endcap exposure—Loop videos to educate employees and customers on products you are promoting for fall.
• Hands-on demonstrations at store level.
• Always have plenty of product in stock.


Small Changes for Big Profits

The team at FrogTape wants you to look inside—and urge your customers to do the same. Autumn is the perfect time for them to take care of those minor repairs and upgrades that may have built up over the summer months (or the past 15 years, you never know). If they’re glued to football season, there’s always Friday night. Either way, make sure your displays remind and encourage customers to get these things done! Here are some recommendations from the FrogTape folks to keep your doors swinging.

• Head indoors. With the exterior painting season winding down across much of the country, it is time to migrate interior painting supplies to high-visibility areas. Moving products like interior paints, pro-grade painters’ tapes (especially delicate surface tapes designed for indoors), fine sandpapers, protective plastic, drop cloths, etc. to end caps and higher on shelves can help move seasonal products. Conversely, promos and discounts on exterior painting supplies can move surplus stock.

• Fix up for fall. Early fall months are prime time for small neglected home projects—that slowly peeling paint on exterior window trim, those dings and scratches in the wall. Encourage shoppers to tackle projects with clever package deals designed around specific small home projects; put together a “Wall Patch and Paint Package,” for example. You can also promote paint products with outstanding lower temperature performance to help customers tackle that last exterior job of the year.

• Update color palettes. The paint industry Colors of the Year are often announced in late summer—capitalize on the buzz around these trends by stocking up and prominently displaying promos for them from September through November.

• Pre-holiday prep promos. When fall hits, we know the holiday season hustle is right around the corner. Running timely promotions to encourage completing interior painting projects before relatives come into town can provide that extra bump of motivation—and sales—to get the last-minute jobs done.


Do It Now

Joe Smith, director dealer sales, PPG’s architectural coatings business, notes that there are things homeowners and painters can do both inside and out. Remind them they can use fall to get ready for winter. “As autumn quickly approaches, it is important to think through the specific seasonal needs of your customers,” he said. For one, ask them how things are on the outside. “Home exteriors withstand a lot throughout the year—rain, shine, dry heat, frost—and with harsher weather conditions ahead, now is the ideal time to assess homes for areas of vulnerability and prepare the exterior surfaces for the upcoming changes in climate,” he said.

This is the perfect time to promote low temperature paints. Make sure your staff knows what products have this feature, so if someone says “it’s too late to paint” they can counter with “actually, it’s just the right time!”

“PPG recommends using PPG Paints™ Timeless® exterior paint and primer, which can be applied and performs in temperatures as low as 35°F,” he said. The product offeres a tough exterior finish for exceptional resistance to chipping, flaking and cracking, while resisting mold, mildew, and algae on the dry paint film to further protect the surface.

“It provides ideal protection against harsh winter conditions that occur in most regions of the country,” he added. As with any coating, he reminds us, please refer to the product label, the Technical Data Sheet, and Safety Data Sheet for safety and detailed application instructions.

Meanwhile, it’s called “fall” for a reason. “As leaves start to fall onto decks and patios, homeowners are at risk of having permanent stains on their exterior surfaces as the leaves break down over the winter months,” said Smith. But whaddaya know, it’s another chance to sell a solution to the problem! “This is a great time to promote all-purpose deck cleaners and maintenance wash products that can remove tough stains from leaves, dirt and grime. Of course, timing is of the essence when it comes to protecting a deck’s exterior, so it’s important to encourage customers to do so well in advance of winter weather.”

Meanwhile, there are those folks that put everything off until that last minute, but that minute is now. “In the early fall months of September and October, homeowners are often looking to refinish and protect their exterior wood and concrete surfaces, such as decks and driveways, before the colder temperatures set in,” Smith reminds us. “Take advantage of this by offering preparation and application tips and tricks, recommend products based on each customer’s need, and promote products with waterproof and low temperature capabilities,” he advised. Of course, PPG has something to help. “For protecting driveways during the harsh winter months, PPG recommends PPG Paints Perma-Crete® Pitt-Flex® elastomeric coating, which offers a 100 percent acrylic formula that touts exceptional dirt resistance, as well as a flexible bond to prevent hairline cracks and protect against water infiltration to achieve uniform, pinhole-free jobs.” The product was recently reformulated can be applied to concrete that is more than seven days old and with a pH level of less than 13. It can also be applied and performs in temperatures as low as 35°F.


A Fall Pick-Me-Up

Cari Fennell, Home Décor Coordinater for [re]design by Prima Marketing, notes that this time is year is great for selling home decor products, which gives you an opportunity to let your customers express their unique taste with your unique product selection. “Most home owners or DIYers are looking to spruce up their homes to get ready for the holiday season, or to freshen up their spaces after summer vacation has ended, as they they start spending more time indoors,” she said.

Since you’re the idea place, a display to inspire those ideas will get your customers’ attention. “Show some finished samples, especially anything related to fall or Holiday décor. Most everyone decorates for this time of year, so make the most of it,” said Fennell.

It might be a good time to schedule some workshops, with plenty of product for sale just when you have your participants pumped for action. “Hands on learning is one way to give customers confidence in using products they might not try otherwise. They will be willing to invest in the products once they know how to use them and walk away with amazing results,” said Cari. A slightly different take is an open house with demos using the latest and greatest products you’ve got for sale. Again, have enough to sell, as many customers will want to purchase the products right then and there. Or, do both—advertise your workshops at the open house. “That will spur more interest in what you will be offering in the coming weeks,” Fennell concluded.


And Don’t Forget, Low VOC

Michele Corwin, CEO of Renaissance Innovations (makers of Retique It), suggests bringing it indoors as well. “Highlight products that can be used for indoor DIY projects, such as restoring furniture and cabinets using low VOC water based products,” she suggested.

Sounds like there’s plenty of work to be done! Get the outside ready for colder weather, do some interior touchup, and from there, decorate walls and furniture for the holidays. Don’t like holidays? Then do it just because you want to. Now you’re fit for fall.

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