Open a second store in the midst of an ailing economy? “Absolutely,” exclaims Jason Geiser, owner of Deco-Crete Supply, based in Orrville, in northeast Ohio.
A contractor since 2000, Geiser had a young family and wanted to put in less hours to be more available to his kids and reduce the physical demands on his body. Tapping into what he felt was a tremendous need, he opened a decorative concrete supply store, concentrating his efforts on providing a place where contractors could send their customers to see the options the contractor could only sort of describe.
“They (contractors) were terrible salespeople and customers were at a loss,” Geiser explains. “The decorative concrete industry was growing like crazy and contractors taking customers to completed jobs was the extent of their portfolio. There were no color selections, texture variations or finishing options.”
Other contractors viewed him as competition until he invited them in and won them over with his ideas. “Now, these same contractors are my best customers. They send their clients to us.”
Deco-Crete meets with contractors’ customers to guide the process of choosing colors, textures and so on, Geiser says. “Using our nearly 100 samples, we fill out a selection sheet and it goes right into that contractor’s file. Now we can go ahead and get their stamps ready, pull their stains and bagged goods, and have it all ready when the project is scheduled to start. So much of the time and effort has been diverted from the contractor, who can now focus on what they are good at — the actual job!”
Product knowledge is essential to the success of Deco-Crete Supply, Geiser says. “All of my employees must have field experience in addition to knowing the technical aspects of all the products we sell. Our customers trust us enough to know that we know what we are doing and we won’t steer them wrong.”
In fact, Deco-Crete has begun private-labeling items recently — DecoCrete Antique Release Agent and DecoCrete Color Hardener. To their surprise, the reception has been astounding. Now they are planning on doing a few more, perhaps a few each year. “We sell to architects, designers and landscape architects — why not get our own private-label products specced?” says Geiser. “We rename all of our colors and essentially the product is ours.”
Why open a second decorative concrete retail store during economic turmoil? Geiser laughs. “Everything just fell into place. The Columbus (Ohio) area was in dire need of exactly what we provide here in Orrville and it all just worked.”
He involved one of his first customers, who had used Deco-Crete’s products for six years and was ready for a career change. That customer, Kerry Browne, became the Columbus store manager. Jeff Hershberger remains the manager of the Orrville location.
Geiser has one more piece of advice, regarding retailing: “Samples are visible from the road and invoke attention. Make your closed hours work for you by either illuminating your samples or incorporating lighting into your samples.”