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People don’t need Tile. How will you Sell it?

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Allow me to talk straight with you. We don’t make a living kneeling, spreading thin set and setting tile, we make our living convincing people that they should pay more for us to install a material that could easily be replaced by plastic or fiberglass. You don’t get to eat unless people are buying what you are selling!
Think about that; people don’t need tile. They could just as easily pay far less and not have to deal with the long-term installation inconvenience of tile, by using plastic, but they don’t. Tile inherently differentiates itself from it’s competing finishes by having a status about it. A status of luxury, comfort, security and longevity. It portrays those qualities simply by being. It’s an inanimate object! It brings a lot to the table.
So, as an installer, what do you bring to the table? How do you differentiate yourself from the countless others in your area? How do you make yourself different from what I call the “volume and production, blow and go” guys? When someone calls you, is your number just one of many in that person’s pocket? Are you just another labor monkey to them? Are you simply a person who kneels and spreads thin set?
Over the course of the Tile Money podcast we’ve heard many different tile installers. They all install tile, but they have something very exclusive about them. They create value by being different. Remember Deric Anderson of DP Tile? He’s an American in Australia that laughs in the face of the most technical patterns; he’ll take on any challenge. How about Joshua Nordstrom, the Octopus Mosaic guy, of Nome, Alaska. He goes HARD and there’s not a person in the business who does not know his name right now. People seek these guys out because they’re DIFFERENT.
Over the course of the Tile Money podcast we’ve heard many different tile installers. They all install tile, but they have something very exclusive about them. They create value by being different. Remember Deric Anderson of DP Tile? He’s an American in Australia that laughs in the face of the most technical patterns; he’ll take on any challenge. How about Joshua Nordstrom, the Octopus Mosaic guy, of Nome, Alaska. He goes HARD and there’s not a person in the business who does not know his name right now. People seek these guys out because they’re DIFFERENT.
Everyone says they’re different in 2019, but truly being different and monetizing it is the trick. If you own your own business, you must be distinct to survive and thrive. A great way to monetize individuality is by doing market research. Look at your competition, figure out what they’re doing or not doing. Capitalize on that information. I’ve had great success in just calling people back in a timely manner. Make it in under 24hrs, no matter what, and you’re already better. Find a niche, be the zero-entry company, the go-to thin brick people, the must have glass backsplash installers.
A great way to differentiate yourself is in your appearance. Colorful shirts, sharp vehicles. My favorite concept is one called “peacocking”. We all know how a peacock has its colorful feathers that it uses to attract a mate. It’s not working with much, super small brain, and those creepy claw things it walks around on, (gross) but it has those feathers. It’s nature’s way of differentiating! So, as a person who’s trying to be remembered, try to wear one article of clothing or groom yourself so that you stand out. Whether that’s a funky hat, some custom shoes, or sport a breathtakingly fantastic mustache! I believe in wearing your best clothes and a nice pair of leather shoes for all business appointments. That’s my style. Get yourself noticed and REMEMBERED!
It’s important to not differentiate based on what you think is important, but by what your potential client thinks is important. I’ve been guilty of going into a consultation spreading the good news about every technical aspect of the tile install, only to receive blank stares. Mrs. So and So could care less about what kind of thinset I use or what my water proofing technique is. What SHE cares about is important, so find out what that is by asking good questions! Sometimes they’ll tell you without even being prompted. People love to talk, so let them. Listen intently and zone in on what they care about, not what you care about. Allow them to tell you how to differentiate yourself.
I highly recommend a book by Lee B. Salz called Sales Differentiation. It was recommended to me by the tremendous and thoughtful Ron Nash. It’s an easy read at a tick over 200 pages. There was a great example in the book about a trash company capitalizing on its difference. You’d think, what’s the distinction, they’re all just picking up trash. This company had a very clever service where once a year it would pick up all the trash cans and clean them for its customers. BRILLIANT! The other companies would let their cans grow mushrooms on the inside and stink, this company would clean the cans once a year. That’s enough of a variation to get loyal customers that will pay more! Check out this short YouTube Video from Lee.
I highly recommend a book by Lee B. Salz called Sales Differentiation. It was recommended to me by the tremendous and thoughtful Ron Nash. It’s an easy read at a tick over 200 pages. There was a great example in the book about a trash company capitalizing on its difference. You’d think, what’s the distinction, they’re all just picking up trash. This company had a very clever service where once a year it would pick up all the trash cans and clean them for its customers. BRILLIANT! The other companies would let their cans grow mushrooms on the inside and stink, this company would clean the cans once a year. That’s enough of a variation to get loyal customers that will pay more! Check out this short YouTube Video from Lee.
I highly recommend a book by Lee B. Salz called Sales Differentiation. It was recommended to me by the tremendous and thoughtful Ron Nash. It’s an easy read at a tick over 200 pages. There was a great example in the book about a trash company capitalizing on its difference. You’d think, what’s the distinction, they’re all just picking up trash. This company had a very clever service where once a year it would pick up all the trash cans and clean them for its customers. BRILLIANT! The other companies would let their cans grow mushrooms on the inside and stink, this company would clean the cans once a year. That’s enough of a variation to get loyal customers that will pay more! Check out this short YouTube Video from Lee.
That’s an excellent illustration, but in the tile business, installers are tight lipped! Don’t be afraid to PROMOTE YOURSELF. If you’re doing something like bending your T100 Schluter profiles, mention it to the customer in a clever way. People are always coming in to shoot the breeze with you while you’re working, take the opportunity to say “Hey, check this out!” PEOPLE DON’T KNOW UNLESS YOU SAY SOMETHING. With modernity, people just don’t pay attention. You need to talk yourself up at every opportunity. Yeah, yeah, you’re humble, you don’t want to brag. That’s all marketing is, It’s BRAGGING! Businesses market. You own a business. So, market! (BRAG) Make it lighthearted and funny but tell people you’re a special person with all the right moves and you’re bringing those funky moves to their house to make a sweet, sweet creation.
I use a tip by Paul Luccia. Luke interviewed him a while back and he mentioned that when he is selling a glass backsplash, he’ll bring a piece of tile that is cut in a sloppy manner to show the customer. Then he’ll bust out the glass tile that he cuts with polished ends, sanded and beautiful. That’s a difference people can see and feel and it takes very little effort! Now in your minds eye imagine the next guy that comes to bid the job who doesn’t do that. Who do you think made the bigger impact? Think emotional IMPACT.
Admittedly, booking tile jobs is often about one thing. THE PRICE. Some people will simply not be able to afford your services. No matter how different you are they simply don’t have the money or won’t spend the money. That’s great, hopefully you don’t invest too much time into those people because you have an excellent qualification process. If you’re offbeat enough, many of those type of people won’t call you. If you’re incomparable enough, you’ll subconsciously attract your type of customer. It works! The trick is to be honest about who you are and how you do things. Believe it or not, honesty is rare, so guess what, it’s a differentiator! Just go with it. Be you and the law of attraction will apply like magic! SHAZZAM.
The best thing you could do is let your personality shine. I follow a guy on Instagram, CK Construction. He has that heavy New York accent, he has “espresso time”, “GRAB A BROOM!” He is so full of personality. OF COURSE, he does great work, many, many people do great work, but they’re relegated to obscurity. He’s mobilized his personality to keep the phone ringing and to get the word out. That’s what it’s about, getting the word out.
Okay, so you’ve been told you have a bit of a dry personality. No one has ever called you charismatic, but dang, you’re great at doing tile. What do you do? You get clever. You get out of your comfort zone. Dig deep and find that hidden gem inside you. Don’t let the work do the talking for you. It’s not about the work, it’s about the experience. Many people produce great work, but if you want to increase your value, suck it up and take a few baby steps out of your comfort zone.
We’ve all heard the saying “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”.
This stuff is so relevant there’s a folk saying about it!
Don’t be a clown. I’m not saying that! Maybe you’re different because you show up on time, you don’t complain, you do what you say you’re going to do. That’s all great stuff. Write that on your business card or on your website.
Remember, people don’t pay attention! Don’t hold it to yourself.
Tell the builder you’re working for, “Hey, you pay me more because I’m never going to let you down.” That’s what I’m talking about!
Change your mindset about what you’re doing and gain an abundance mindset. There is abundance out there, but it’s up to you to track it down, hit it over the head with a rock and drag it home! You’re not going to do it by fitting in, you’re not going to do it by being comfortable. How you do it isn’t going to be how I do it, so, try some things! You don’t kneel for a living, you don’t stick tile to walls for a living, you sell your differences to people who are a buying YOU and a material that’ll go for the long haul inside their home.
Change your mindset and you can change your life. DIFFERENTIATE!
Written by Benjamin Santos
Tile Money is brought to you by the National Tile Contractors Association
and Sponsored by Laticrete International.

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