Paint Place Success Story

Store Name:
Paint Place Eltham

Store owner:

photo

Doug, Jane and Sam Warrell along with
Greg and Rob Burtuna

Buying group:
Paint Place Group

Up until 12 months ago, Paint Place Eltham only ever traded as a Bristol store. However, after a fair amount of deliberation the 60 year old Eltham store joined the growing Paint Place group and has since celebrated the store’s revival.

Although the business only changed to the Paint Place Group just over 12 months ago, the store has already gone under a major re-vamp, to find business has improved as well as its customer demographic.

Part owner and manager, Sam Warrell said the move to Paint Place is one of the best decisions the business has made because the Paint Place group is so pro-active in supporting the store.

“The Paint Place group has been particularly great in assisting us with our specials and helping us with our marketing. One example is the store was giving away soccer balls during the World Cup, but we ran out of balls three times. When we asked for more soccer balls from the group, we received new balls within 24 hours. In the end I think we ended up giving way 120 soccer balls which was great,” Sam said.

“The Paint Place group also recruited Angie Bell (professional retail branding consultant), who assisted us with a complete relay of the entire store. We really sat down and went through and focused on the best-selling areas and how we can make different parts of the store sell better. The changes to the store did help the business initially,” he said.

With over 6000 customers already in the store’s VIP system, management knows its customer base well, however the store’s re-vamp did see a whole different demographic of people visiting the store once the change-over was complete.

“This is great considering we have been here for over 60 years and we have a lot of long-standing customers. I think changing the store name also assisted in new demographics coming in because we changed the entire front of the store from Bristol to Paint Place and people were associating us with paint,” Sam said.

Times are changing

The family run store is owned by five owners including Doug Warrell who has owned the store for over 30 years and his daughter Jane, who has been with the store for 20 years and son Sam who joined the store 10 years ago, along with brothers Greg and Rob Burtuna.

A lot has changed since the store was the only paint retailer in the street, but it now has some fierce competition locally with a Dulux, Haymes and a Bunnings store trading nearby.

Sam said the store currently caters to both tradies and the DIY market, with 70 per cent of customers focused on the DIY market and 30 per cent being trade. However Sam said the store still has some very loyal long standing trade customers, who continually return to the store because it provides such impeccable service.

In regards to the increase in local competition, Sam said it has certainly taken over a portion of the business in recent years, but he says the store’s main form of attack is through providing outstanding customer service.

“Being a family business and having family members work in the store, I know our staff will always go way behind their normal capabilities to deliver good service. However, in a company store staff are only going to do what they are paid to do. One of our main employees, Tamara, worked here for about 17 years, so it’s not like we have new staff turning over all of the time and we have long standing relationships here. We know customers by their first name and there is a lot of return business,” Sam said.

Changes for the better

More recently Paint Place Eltham was awarded over 90 per cent plus compliance on the group’s in-store merchandising guideline, during the Paint Place annual conference earlier this year and Sam said a lot of this came down to adjusting the store relay and ensuring the store had become more customer friendly.

“During the store changeover, we have really focussed on making products more sellable and recognising the points of the store where we are going to sell more goods. This is more the case in accessories, where we make sure we do little things correctly, such as pricing everything,” Sam said.

“With us service is also very critical, so very rarely will you see people waiting around queuing up for service and while customers wait for an order, they can actually see where our accessories are. Before they were hidden away and this is why we lowered all of the shelves, so more of the store is accessible and customers can find what they need without much trouble,” he said.

When discussing the popular use of on-line colour schemes in comparison to swatches, Sam said although on-line colour tools do have a lot of potential, there is still the concern that every computer screen, resolution, brightness, is slightly different.

“I think when using computers to choose paint, it should be used more for taking a photo of your house and easily changing the colours of your house on-line to see how it looks. We have seen so many different computer programs over the years and this store was one of the first stores to introduce computer technology – where we spent over $10,000 on a touch screen computer. This was quite successful but this was at a time when we were the only paint store in the street,” he said.

What next for the popular store?

Even though so much has been done to the store recently, Sam said he still wants to make a few changes to the store and will continue to update the business. However, when looking into the next 12 months Sam said it was too hard to predict what the future holds for the paint industry.

“In the near future there are new colour trends coming out and there is also the new range from Taubmans Easy Coat Pro coming out soon, but it’s still very hard to predict what will happen in the market in the near future. I think things are currently a bit tight in the industry so we are literally going from month to month, because we have no idea if the market will pick up soon,” Sam said.

“But we will just continue to strive to have the best reputation in the area, especially by utilising our 6000 VIP clients in our system and recording every paint they buy. We do this so they can come back either a week or 10 years later and ask us what colour they used and we can track back to exactly what they need. This is a process that has also made our computer system extremely invaluable.”

“You can’t just be a paint specialist, you have to be a computer specialist, a colour consultant, marriage guidance counsellor and everything else in-between,” he said.

Sam hopes to continually upgrade the store and deliver the highest quality customer service to his loyal and newest customers so Paint Place Eltham may thrive for another 60 years.

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