Who makes up a majority of your homeowner customer base? More and more, it’s likely to be seniors. Studies show that the majority of seniors prefer to stay at home as long as possible. In fact, a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reports that, by 2035, one out of three American households will be headed by someone aged 65 or older. The desire to “age in place” has created an entire industry around retrofitting homes to be safer and easier to maintain. As a home improvement retailer, you can be their go-to for the products and services they need. Here are three ways you can reach out to this growing customer base.
Review Your Product Mix
First, make sure you are stocking the products that can help your senior customers. One of the biggest senior safety issues in the home is falling. Shower seats, grab bars and non-slip mats and appliques for the bathtub are all basic items that should be in your product mix. Non-slip strips are useful for steps in other areas of the home, such as the home entrance.
Poor lighting can be just as much to blame for falls as slippery surfaces. Night lights, motion-activated lighting and push-button light pods are all items you can market to seniors.
Seniors will also be interested in smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers to keep the home safe. Then, don’t forget about child safety items like plug covers and safety gates for grandparents who want to have the grandkids over for a visit.
While many of the products named above are fairly easy to install, sometimes seniors need major alterations done to the home. Installing walk-in tubs, widening doorways, adding extra lighting or building a ramp to the front door are all major projects that senior homeowners will want to hire out. You can help by collecting a list of trusted contractors so you have someone to recommend when they start talking about these projects.
Senior homeowners typically want homes that are easy to maintain, and you can help. Offering a handyman service to help with basic tasks such as installing a repaired screen or even changing light bulbs can build loyalty with this customer base. More than other generations, perhaps, seniors will appreciate the personalized customer service that you can offer.
If you sell it, talk about it. Use your marketing so your customers know you can recommend the products that can make homes more accessible for seniors. Some retailers have even created checklists that detail the major areas where homeowners can make their living spaces safer. The National Association for Home Builders offers a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) program to help remodelers learn about what it takes to make a home safe and accessible for seniors. If someone on your staff has this certification, then you can offer services such as in-home consultations, and your customers will have the assurance that you are experts in this area.
Read this Hardware Retailing article from the May 2015 issue of the magazine for more information on aging in place. Plus, check out this link to additional aging-in-place resources. Then, download the Aging in Place Selling Guide.