As a result of an unexpected opportunity, this is likely going to be my last blog for The Original Flame. I move on to a different industry in May of 2018.
I started at the store before the birth of my daughter, two and a half houses ago and about four to six industry certifications ago. I am so grateful for my time here, my time in the industry and as I look forward to what’s next for me, I wanted to take the opportunity to blog about bits and pieces of the specialty fireplace industry and why, even as a former staffer, I would still bring my money, my trust, and my business to The Original Flame.
Some of the highlights:
I went back to school a few times while I was working in the hearth industry.
I had the opportunity to take my Gas Technician 3 license at Durham College in Whitby (night school, commuting back and forth for eight months with an infant daughter). This was some of the most intense schoolings I have ever been involved in and despite trying my hand at being part of an installation crew and deciding my strengths were far better focused on the sales floor, I grew so much in confidence as a sales person by building an understanding of the gas code as well as being in the field installing fireplaces, standing on roofs, trembling on ladders, my hands sore from working pipe wrenches all day, mysterious scratches and cuts – you develop a completely different perspective on the folks who do the installations at the store. And those folks are very, very good at what they do.
Over a course of a few years, I took the in-class portions as well as put in the required number of weeks (80) to gain my WETT certification. Again, this is something that I can draw a straight line between me taking the first course in the WETT training (a course called Code Compliance) and gaining confidence on the sales floor. There’s a terrific amount of small details to know about installing – and selling – solid fuel burning appliances, and there’s no substitute for WETT training. One of my favorite memories of time spent with my then infant daughter was at the Best Western Hotel in Barrie for my WETT Code Compliance course in the swimming pool. I then went on to do the rest of the coursework and put in the hours to become certified.
As far as being a good salesperson or developing the knack for sales, it’s difficult – and I think this answer or process would vary person to person – to explain how I became a good salesperson. I think one of the biggest reasons that I became a good fireplace salesperson is that I worked my absolute hardest to answer questions clients had and put effort and diligence into reassuring them that the product they were interested in was right for them – and talking about those reasons – or why they may have been on the wrong track and discussing alternatives. This has to do with a core belief that the right product that I was selling at The Original Flame wasn’t necessarily the one that would bring the most money into the business – it was the one that the client was going to be happiest with that would meet their needs and expectations.
There are a few reasons that I would and will continue to come into The Original Flame as a client.
- The Original Flame is a small shop; they don’t have time to manage products that are a headache. Almost every product that The Original Flame sells is Canadian or North American made; almost every product has an extremely comprehensive warranty, and this has a lot to do with another core value – small businesses don’t have time to rush around putting out fires. The products we work with, from Jotul to Blaze King to Valcourt and Regency are all brand names that we would install in our own families’ homes – or have.
- There’s a wide variety of products available to The Original Flame. Even as a small business, there are plenty of different fireplace lines and options/accessories for each which allows The Original Flame to compete well with other retailers in the Peterborough marketplace. The variety of shapes, sizes, and options for all the fireplaces that The Original Flame works with allows for a ton of customization to get the desired look just right.
- The service that I’ve been shown how to give is incredible. I have some stories of fireplaces that, for some quirk or reason out of the factory, were a lot of work and troubleshooting to get running and going to the client’s satisfaction – and we took care of them. Not every retailer is created equal, and the service that I was coached to provide at The Original Flame is just absolutely second to none.
This isn’t an Oscar speech, but I have some folks to thank.
My boss and the owner of The Original Flame, Michele Kadwell-Chalmers, took a huge risk hiring a person whose background was working with children who had mental health issues and youth at risk before starting here at the store. I know that I would not have the opportunities that are ahead of me had I not had the coaching and mentorship that I have had from Michele.
Christina, my wife, Hana, my daughter, for being my biggest fans and supporters.
I am grateful to Karen and Dave Begley for being good colleagues and friends.
As I move with optimism and confidence into the next chapter of my life and career, I am very grateful to The Original Flame and will value my experience for years to come.