Stone World magazine had the opportunity to speak to Frank Sciarrino, a third generation stone fabricator that worked in the family business before starting Quote Countertops. He came on the podcast to discuss how the pandemic has changed the marketing strategy for fabricators around the country, as well as how fabricators should start the marketing process if they hadn’t.
SW: From your perspective as far as the pandemic and everything we saw in 2020, what did you see with digital sales happening for fabricators?
FS: Well, if you didn’t think people could be more online than they were, you were wrong. You saw more people researching online than ever before. People couldn’t go into stores anymore and all they were doing was this research on how to get updates to their kitchen while COVID and everything else was going on in the world. So people are on their phones more, they couldn’t get to the office, so there was a big spike in web traffic. A lot of showrooms were closed but your online presence, your website, your social media page they really grew and they started to gain a lot of attention. But at home you had a husband and wife, the decision makers, sitting at home, who can’t go to work, can’t go on vacation, locked in their homes. So they were spending money on their home that they would have spent on their vacation this year.
SW: Did you see a lot of changes to people’s websites? Were they updating correctly?
FS: The number one thing I was shocked about was that you got to get your website in order. Your website is your showroom, but it’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and you’ve got 100 times more people going on your website than in your showroom and there’s no one there to help them. Make sure the website gives them the information they need. You need pictures, gallery images, a visualizer, a way for them to quote or buy. I was also shocked about how long it took people to say, "Hey, we’re an open business. We’re going to wear masks, do temperature checks, whatever else, but we are a small business. Help us out during this time."
SW: That’s an interesting point with the small business aspect. How much did you hear this summer that people were going to support small business, go spend more than usual with them to help them out?
FS: You have to play to your strengths. Your family business or your small business and you are competing against these big retailers. The number one thing is letting people know you are open. They may not assume you are an essential business and think that you are closed. Let them know, you are open.
SW: So let’s say you didn’t jump on any of this and you are listening to this podcast now. Is it too late for me to start implementing some of this?
FS: I always say that it’s too late not to do it, right? Is it too late to get started and offer online sales or for people to shop off your website? No. It’s not too late. I hate to say it, but when you look at 9/11 and what it did to the airport industry, the security industry, going through airport security checks is different and it will never be the same. This is how people are going to shop now. You got people that are doing a Zoom conference to go to work. Virtual online sales is the way it’s going to go. This is where the industry is going. Start by cleaning up your website and start claiming any social media you don’t have. Such as Facebook -- it’s free, sign up. If you need to, get a professional to come in and help with your brand. Don’t just get any website guy, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will introduce you to some companies that specialize in helping fabricators build a website. This is so you have the right keywords, the right newsletters, so you organically rank and you show up in searches.