Odds are, no one has been fired. More likely, one of the salespeople just sold a desk to a customer. Besides, a new desk will probably arrive in one of the 30 weekly truckloads to HGRs facility, located in Euclids former Fisher Guide plant.
HGRs entire office with the exception of the computer system is furnished with surplus materials from other companies, explains Paul M. Betori, president of the two-year-old business. For that reason, just about everything is for sale.
What separates us is our whole approach to selling surplus equipment, Betori says. Weve had everything including the kitchen sink, and weve sold it.
Here are three of Betoris tips for balancing customer loyalty with company profitability:
View everything as a commodity
Betoris approach incorporates a melange of selling styles, including a touch of street vendor. After a difficult haggling session, hes been known to settle the deal with the flip of a coin.
His salespeople are taught to always be prepared. Its not uncommon for them to return to their desks and find the chair has been added to someones order.
HGR employs a price-slashing policy similar to that of the national clothing retailer Syms. Customers roam the floor browsing the companys huge inventory, and if a piece hasnt been sold after three months, its price is cut. Every subsequent month, the price is cut again until its sold. Betori also empowers his salaried salespeople to negotiate deals at will.
Last year, this approach helped HGR reach $7 million in revenue. Betori says he expects to exceed that by more than $500,000 this year, and hell do just about anything to reach that goal.
Include fun in your operations
Betori tries to inject humor into just about everything the company does. The monthly catalog features a drawing with head shots of Betori and his sales staff pasted over cartoon bodies.
That attitude not only works with customers, it works with employees as well. In fact, Betori admits the levity may actually mean more to the employees.
Weve got to come to work, Betori says. We might as well have fun.
Every Wednesday, no matter the weather, HGR hosts a barbecue known affectionately as Vincenzos Café, named for the man who cooks burgers, chicken and kielbasa for customers. On days with the free lunch, HGRs walk-in business doubles.
Explains Betori, We try to create that impulse buying that you get in a retail store.
Give customers what they want
Free food isnt the only way to draw customers. Betori also offers drawings for Indians tickets, sidewalk sales and other promotions and recently gave away a Bahamas vacation.
Among the myriad rows of used equipment, customers find what theyre looking for, and often things they didnt know they needed. Betori says its common for someone to come in to pick up, say, a $40 filing cabinet and leave with thousands of dollars worth of equipment.
With experiences like that, its not surprising that HGR turned over its inventory roughly six times last year in an industry in which once or twice is considered good.
Despite this, Betori admits some of his competitors may have a slight edge when it comes to some aspects of business, delivery or set-up, for example. But he claims his overall approach keeps customers coming back.
They dont need appointments, and Betori insists that his staff be as user friendly as possible. That means being honest, as well.
Says Betori, Its not a sales pitch to tell somebody its a hunk of junk.
How to reach: HGR Industrial Surplus, (216) 486-4567 or www.hgrindustrialsurplus.com
Daniel G. Jacobs (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor of SBN.