Big C Lumber goes beyond the usual checklist when the Granger, Ind.-based company reviews candidates for installed sales jobs. It also tests prospects' basic math skills. Here (right) are four of the questions it asks.
The test certainly does its job; Big C says some candidates crumple and toss out their applications when they come across this section.
1-How many 4x8 sheets of plywood does it take to cover a 960 square-foot roof?
2-If you have an area that is 60 feet long and 50 feet wide, how many square feet is this?
3-If a roll of drywall tape covers an average of 480 square feet of drywall, and if a 5-gallon bucket of mud covers 750 square feet, how many of each would it take to do a house that takes 250 sheets of 4x12 drywall?
4-If something costs $100 and you want to make a 25% margin on it, what should be the selling price to the customer?
Where to Spend the Ad Cash? Here's a Rough Guide
Brown, a speaker at February's Installed Sales Summit in Dallas, says there is a lot of trial and error to figuring out what works and measuring results. He notes one dealer in a wealthy area just north of New York advertised four ways: on a bike trail heading into New York, with billboards along the commuter rail into Manhattan, via cable TV, and in the PennySaver classifieds. The PennySaver was the best source of good leads, the dealer found.
Tip #1: Prepare for the Expected
Tip #2: Expect the Unexpected
Gregg Speed, corporate safety general manager at Hancock Lumber Co., Casco, Maine, reminded attendees at the Installed Sales Summit that their companies need to produce a written safety and health program and keep it readily available at the jobsite. Writing down policies for programs, such as fall protection, hazards, tool safety, and scaffolding, helps not only the employees but also the company should a government official come visit, he notes.
"One of your goals is to remove the motivation of your safety inspector," Speed says. "You can do that, in part, by having an extensive written policy. Seeing you pull down and go through your safety binder [during the visit] shows you're trying to do the right thing."
But while written policies help, a dealer cannot anticipate and put in writing a response to every possible hazard, Speed says. "It's not what you underestimate that really gets you in trouble," he says. "It's the stuff that's not even on your radar screen."