Establishing a new brick and mortar is no small feat, often requiring countless hours of scouting, documenting, training, and marketing. Purchase Green, after opening 30+ locations since its founding in 2008, recognized this burden and has since formulated a Store Opening Procedure to minimize pain points in the onboarding process, for both corporate and franchise operations alike.
Even still, challenges persist no matter how prepared one might be. For this reason, newly opened Purchase Green stores are given a bit of reprieve for their first year, allowing these younger locations the opportunity to generate awareness and revenue – with the understanding that projected earnings will continue to rise over time.
So, it is quite remarkable when a Purchase Green store as young as six months has already breached $1 million in revenue – for the first time in this organization’s history – and with trends indicating there is still much to gain in their market. But how did Purchase Green Houston do it? And how might others mirror their success? We met with our Houston, Texas team for their insight into what they believe has set them apart.
The following interview was conducted by Parris King, our Content Marketing Manager, who spoke with Bob Felix, Regional Manager of Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, and Austin territories, as well as Jose Jimenez, Store Manager of Purchase Green Houston.
Parris: “Bob, you are a Purchase Green veteran. By now you’ve helped establish several of our stores – so, what do you think are Houston’s key strengths and/or advantages that have set it up for success?”
Bob: “We found that the further we are moving into the Southeast, there is less direct competition; and what competition is here, they have a much higher markup. Houston is fairly untapped with a strong middle class, and even though it did take a little bit of time for people to find us, we were still able to make a splash as soon as we got here.”
Parris: “Interesting. Following that, what do you think sets Purchase Green Houston apart from the competition that is there?”
Jose: “We’re focused on building relationships with our contractors; and because of that networking, we’re receiving new contractor customers every week.”
Bob: “Yes, exactly. We have a number of relationships that we heavily nurture – it also helps to not have to rely on our Master Distribution Center in California for materials, but instead grow the Houston warehouse as the next ‘hub’, so we always have stock on hand. But we still have to groom installers out here – there’s just not a big installer culture in Texas like there is in California. We’re trying to educate them, but we’re just barely breaking the first couple of layers on that.”
Parris: “I love how focused your team is on your contractor customer base. Purchase Green as an organization really does encourage that for all of our stores because contractors will ultimately be your bread and butter. Jose, you really hit the nail on the head there with emphasizing those relationships – and from your experience, what would you say is necessary to have or do in order to build a strong network of contractors?”
Jose: “Well, I treat them like they’re a part of the Purchase Green family – because they are, really. To me, I talk to them like they’re my friends, and I know they appreciate that.”
Bob: “That’s a big deal, and I try to do the same thing in other stores – you want to make the conversations loose but with the education aspect on point. Maintain that sort of atmosphere in the store if you can because when you think about it from the customer’s perspective, they’re finally away from the job – they’ve been out on the field all day or running estimates, and by the time they get to you they need a place to decompress. I’ve even had people tell me, ‘This place is like my living room’ – especially when you’ve created an inviting showroom space with plants, furniture, and other decorative elements – I mean, I love Purchase Green Houston’s showroom atmosphere.”
Parris: “Absolutely. Customer service at that level truly boosts the potential of a store, in addition to creating a comfortable environment. Although, as we head toward the close of Houston’s first fiscal year and gear up for the 2022 season, what do you see as being possible next steps to advance Houston even further?
Bob: “We’re still trying to rev up our Install Partners. When you land in these markets that are more-or-less un-tapped, it’s tough to manage all of the incoming leads when you have a limited capacity for installations. You know, you have to make all of these relationships with contractors when you’re new to the area and learn who’s who – and you can’t go to the next step without having that reliable pool of quality Install Partners first. So, for Purchase Green Houston, we’re trying to meet as many contractors as we can to build our Partner program, and then we can begin to work on In-House Installation teams.”
Parris: “What is your process for identifying quality artificial grass installers?”
Jose: “One of the things that I like to do, as one example, is after a contractor purchases from us I’ll do a personal follow up call to ask how the job went, if they could send any pictures, or if there’s anything else they needed – and at that time they usually share their learning experiences from that job.”
Bob: “Yes, you should be given, or you should request pictures of their installs, but also try to visit them on-site if you can. And there is a certain level of professionalism that you should expect from your partners, so I like to meet with them in-store to get a sense of how they are in person. Also the simple things, like going out to look at their truck and getting a sense of how they present themselves.”
Parris: “And how do you approach the balance of maintaining an in-house crew with Installation Partners?”
Bob: “You have to get your Install Partners strong before you think about in-house. In-house teams are a whole other type of responsibility; you have to make sure you can be on top of training the crew as well as your estimators. I would say focus on your partners for the first year, at least.”
Parris: “So, it’s getting a handle on who is available to you in the area, nurturing those partnerships, and then building your own in-house team over time – although while still maintaining those contractor relationships even after the fact?”
Bob: “Oh yeah, there’s enough to go around – especially in large markets like Houston.”
Parris: “Got it. Well, that’s all the time we have for this call – thank you guys for sharing your availability with me, I appreciate your time. We’ll talk soon!”
Learning from Purchase Green Houston’s Success
The path to growth and prosperity may present differently to others, but there are key fundamentals conducive to the longevity of a store, such as hiring the right team members for the goals you have in mind and maintaining a positive corporate culture. The discussion with Bob and Jose highlighted the task of hiring individuals with skill sets that complement the needs of your store, developing your team for excellence by emphasizing the value of knowledge, and encouraging them along their process of learning.
Additionally, relationship-building with not only your in-house team but also your clients is essential to their advocacy of your business – and is what ultimately broadens your network. Something simple to employ but also easy to forgo is the personalization of your service. Ask thoughtful questions about their line of work or how their last install went. Try to identify a need and offer value – possibly by way of industry insights, installation tips, and, in some circumstances, maybe a business partnership. Managers that are focused on customer support often find many creative ways to be the most helpful and valuable to their clients, and those are the clients that keep coming back.
The Purchase Green Houston team has been an excellent example of what it means to be ‘Happy, Helpful, and Happy to Help’ – and we’re eager to watch them grow even more!