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Banking on the House
Advertising in unique places
Recently our store contributed to the community by building seven new houses. Each of the houses are two stories high, have several rooms, and a wood shingle roof. After we painted the exterior and completed the trim work, we gave the houses away, completely furnished, at no charge.
Our cost was about $500 for all seven houses. No, the housing market in the St. Petersburg area is not extremely affordable. Our houses were model homes, each about four feet wide, two feet deep and about four feet tall. The houses were given to area banks with an agreement that they would be on display in their bank lobby.
Instead of windows, doors, and walls, each of the "rooms" contained the package for products that we sell in our store. We used faucets, lawn sprinklers, light fixtures, portable appliances, and power tools. Where possible, the products were items that are not sold by our competitors. And as a point of security, all of the packages were empty.
On one exterior corner of each of the house, we hung a paint brush. On another exterior corner of the houses, we hung an empty one gallon paint can with the lid removed.
The exterior of the house is decorated by both the bank staff and our team members. Our part of the exterior trim promotes our store location and hours. The part provided by the banks usually promotes their home equity loan packages. For us, the lobby display house gets our name and samples of our products in the eye of the public in a location that you would not expect to find us.
We have found that bank branch managers in our area are required by their supervisors to keep an interesting display in their lobby area. We actually experienced several branch managers that were hesitant to believe that we were not wanting to sell or rent these displays to them.
Not being retailers, they did not realize the value of our having the hundreds of customers that visit their branches each day look at our miniature house while they stand in line for bank services.
As we mentioned, the house contains samples of our products with a paint can and brush attached to the trim. The signage promotes our joint effort with sayings such as "See our loan officers for your home improvement loan. See the folks at Skyway Hardware for your home improvement needs."
Another of the signs invites each bank customer to complete an entry bank for free paint. Depending on the daily customer count of each bank, a gallon of paint is given away at least once each month, with some very busy branches giving away a gallon each week.
The bank draws the winner, and the branch manager writes a letter to the winner. The form letter, on bank letterhead, is written by Roque Anderson, a member of our team who retired from the advertising business. The letter thanks the winner for being a customer of the bank, and tells of those quality folks and products at Skyway Hardware.
The letter goes on to tell the winner that when they present the letter at our store, we will be glad to help them select a gallon of our finest interior or exterior paint in any color they would like. The letter tells of our color matching computer, our hours, our location, and our being "the complete hardware store on the south side since 1958."
Of course, the benefit to our store is two fold. The first, as already mentioned, is to have almost all of the residents living in our part of St. Petersburg seeing our name when they bank. We mention almost all the residents as we had two banks refuse our bank offer. The first refusal was because we did not have our checking account with their bank. And the second refusal was because the bank was under the control of the RTC, and they were not making any loans.
The second benefit we receive with this program comes from the one gallon of paint. Of course, there is almost no project that a customer can complete with only one gallon of paint. The customer will hopefully purchase additional gallons of paint. We have yet to experience the customer that has taken the free gallon of top quality paint, and then purchase additional gallons of lesser quality. And no, we will not exchange the one gallon of top quality for multiple gallons of the middle or low quality paint.
Then after having selected a paint, we hope that our team member training in Skyway University comes into play with the sale of brushes, rollers, spackle, drop cloth, and other assorted paint accessories.
After having started this program, we have had a lot of positive response from the participating banks. With two of the banks, we have seen a picture and a story about our house project appear in their statewide company newsletter. And with another of the banks, we were told that the bank house was the highlight of the regional management meeting.
We were asked if we could provide additional houses for their +other branches in the city. We declined, as none of their other branches are in our trading area. We were however, appreciative that they thought enough of our idea to ask for more houses for their branches.
After having completed the houses, our only expense has been the cost of the gallon of paint. It is a cost that we wish our paint manufacturer would have allowed us to claim as a part of their co-op advertising program. Unfortunately, they declined.
The paint giveaway has, as would be expected, brought us many favorable responses from current customers, and new customers. There are also some very appreciative branch bank managers that are glad that we came along to help them perform one of their jobs.
Finally, there is an old saying about painting the town red. We are just doing our best to make sure that they purchase their red paint (and the brush) from our store.
This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.
Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.