Workplace safety is a challenge that, according to OSHA, accounts for more than $1 billion per week in workers’ compensation costs not to mention reduced productivity and work stoppages. More than just an area requiring constant vigilance from you with respect to your own business, look to your customers’ concerns in the area of safety to enhance your bottom line. Take products that boost productivity and eliminate nagging concerns, add sales strategies to take the guesswork out of safety challenges, and you’ll recognize significant add-on sales. We’ll walk you through the process.
Safety: Who Needs It?
The simple answer is, “Everyone.”
“Whether you’re selling promotional products or uniforms or renting tablecloths and bar towels, even the smallest business needs at least one fire extinguisher,” says Will Colby of Logistics Corporation.
“One interesting case study I can provide involves the large, modern churches,” Colby continues. “Our distributors were already selling promotional products and facility care into these channels, and have discovered that safety sales represent a high growth opportunity. Many feature extensive – and loud! – music, and frequently they offer hearing protection as a convenience to those who may find the volume uncomfortable. Think about it: These are single-use earplugs, and these are large churches. This can be a terrific, recurring addition to your bottom line.
“In fact,” Colby adds, “I’ve actually used earplugs a distributor has sold into one of these churches. At the conclusion of the service, I noticed that they also used hi-vis vests on the volunteers in the parking lot – plus, they used cones our distributor had sold them in that parking lot! They likely have at least one defibrillator inside. Safety touches everyone – you just have to stretch your mind and make your customers aware that you offer these products.”
“One other example I can mention is in the area of heat relief,” Colby continues. “Whether you are in rental or direct sell, customers in businesses like landscaping and construction, utility companies, and the like face high heat. We offer a line of cooling products for high heat situations, with everything from professional- strength electrolyte drinks and freeze pops to bandanas with built-in cooling. All can mitigate worker fatigue and engender productivity.”
Tyler Fowler of Mountville Mills illustrates this principle using anti-fatigue mats as an example.
“Each day, millions of workers report to a job that requires them to stand on their feet all day,” Fowler states. “Standing on an anti-fatigue mat increases the blood flow that gets pumped back to your heart, keeping pain away – and energy levels up.
“Even in just this instance, it’s not just the employee who suffers,” Fowler continues. “According to Georgetown University, back pain is the leading cause of work-loss days – and OSHA cites standing in place for prolonged periods of time as a known cause of back pain. Routine health problems cost American employers more than $61 billion annually, and anti-fatigue mats can be an important solution. This kind of problem-solving can pay off.“
Returning to the anti-fatigue mat example, it’s easy to imagine that healthcare and manufacturing customers would find this product extremely helpful. Think outside the box and consider other opportunities – in this instance, look to restaurants and even offices, Fowler says.
“Ergonomic mats can be placed at the hostess stand, behind the bar, at the cash register, in front of the grill, at food prep stations, and in the dishwashing area. Not only do these mats offer comfort, they help prevent slip and fall accidents.
“Additionally, there are growing opportunities outside of the traditional placement opportunities. An article published in the Washington Post noted that sitting for long periods of time also slows down blood circulation to all parts of the body, which hinders the way we think, feel, and act. Office desks that adjust up and down are on the rise and becoming common in offices all over the country. Why not offer an anti-fatigue mat to place under their feet when they are standing?”
Corey Townsell, of glove distributor Ammex, concurs with Fowler’s assessment of this burgeoning marketplace.
“For example, take our heavy textured orange nitrile glove,” Townsell notes. “It’s only been available for a year and a half, and it’s our fastest-growing product. One reason is because we’ve helped our customers expand their mindset with respect to sales – these gloves get sold in to automotive, chemical, industrial, safety, manufacturing, food processing, and many other types of customers.”
Evaluate your entire customer base and consider what specific challenges each market segment may be facing with respect to worker (and customer) safety. Tour your customers’ facilities and see what you can spot for yourself. Research industry standards; then, combine all of your intel to put together a compelling offer for your customers.
Keep it simple: Do the thinking for your customer so he doesn’t have to.
Both Fowler and Townsell state that awareness is the critical component to gaining sales. “Many times, our customers’ customers simply don’t know that they offer gloves,” Townsell states. “Once they find out that you offer this product, they’re eager to get one more thing they need from a vendor they already trust. We’ve really tailored our sales routine to help you make this a very easy sale.”
How does Ammex do it? By providing customized sales kits that fit into a tote bag with everything needed to answer questions and overcome objections.
“Our company is designed from the ground up to provide a full-service sales and marketing program for the products we carry – we just happen to sell disposable gloves,” Townsell says. “Our sales kit has three elements: First, we provide customized, logoed flyers, so that it looks like it comes straight from your marketing department, featuring products selected to appeal to your customer.
“Next, we include a laminated chemical chart, showing applications where each given glove can protect from each chemical encountered,” Townsell continues. “This makes it easy to answer questions on the fly.”
“Finally, we assemble a sample packet for each glove so that there’s a pair of gloves in each size,” Townsell concludes. “We’ve found this is much more efficient than sampling boxes and helps to overcome objections about product quality very simply and easily. This also ensures that your customer gets the right size for his team.”
Even the smallest direct seller can move in this direction. Inquire about and leverage supplier resources like those mentioned. Take a look at your customer base and what their needs are with regard to safety; then put together specialized materials that highlight what you bring.