Finishing Touches, V2I1

Sales Q & A

Charles Hutchins, president and CEO of Shed-N-Carport Pro in Elizabethtown, KentuckyCharles Hutchins, president and CEO of Shed-N-Carport Pro in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, got his start in the shed-building industry while going to college.

His start wasn’t as good as he had hoped, but Hutchins learned more about the business and sales, resulting in nationwide success. Shed Builder Magazine had a chance to talk with Hutchins about his shed building and sales experience.

How did you get into the shed industry?

I began my journey in the shed industry in December of 1995 while attending Western Kentucky University. I was always entrepreneurial and one day my dad mentioned to me that the people he worked for in Campbellsville, Kentucky, had purchased some insulated steel panels (a by-product of the steel door industry) and were building 10 by 12 sheds out of them. Dad told me “they were selling like hot-cakes,” and that I needed to get involved.

I was so excited that I called the people involved, who were friends of my family for many years, and they agreed to meet me in Bowling Green for supper to discuss a game-plan to get me started. I found a location and began my career. Looking back, I was terrible at sales in the beginning but I had a deep desire to learn and get better.

How did you manage a shed business while going to college?

Great question! At first, the shed business literally managed me.

I would do my school work at my shed lot and I waited on customers. I remember a couple of my friends would stop by to see what I was so excited about only to tell me what a big mistake I had made getting into the shed biz.

Thank the good Lord above that my reasons for running my shed business far outweighed my excuses. As time went on, I gained more and more confidence after each sale I closed. I was able to become the company’s top salesman in a short period of time due to persistence and being coachable.

Tell the readers a little about Shed-N-Carport Pro’s products and business philosophy.

Our main products are Amish-made sheds and carports with a very nice selection of cottages and garages. A few years ago in another shed venture, we supplied two large, well-known retail chains a wonderful shed program that is still in business today.

During that time, I was very fortunate to develop a network of Amish, Mennonite, and traditional builders across the United States. My business philosophy is very simple and direct: “Service & Sales Excellence, Customer By Customer.”

How have you found success with nationwide sales?

We began as a local Kentucky company and because of networking with other builders and www.shedncarportpro.com, we have been able to service customers literally nationwide. It really blows me away when we get calls from customers wanting quotes from all over the United States.

When it comes to shed sales, what is key, in your opinion?

In my opinion, the key to success in shed sales is to truly “connect” with your customer. Author and Leadership Guru John Maxwell has a book called Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, which I highly recommend. When I am with a customer, I listen to their needs and ask questions. I throw salesmanship out the window and just become a friend to my customer that is helping them make the best decision possible for their storage needs.

I have a sign hanging over my office door as a reminder that simply says, “HELP MY CUSTOMERS!”

Shed-N-Carport Pro in Elizabethtown, Kentucky
The Shed-N-Carport Pro lot is primed for sales.

Tell the readers a little about the company’s Retail Charity Program.

The Retail Charity Program started in May of 2001. We team with a high-profile retail chain by displaying our best-selling shed and donate a portion of each sale to the charity of choice. It has been a nice way to give back to those in need.

If you were talking with a colleague who was struggling to increase shed sales, what would you share with them?

Fantastic question! I have a series of YouTube training videos that I put out for free to help others, and I’ve had some folks reach out to me who were struggling. My advice is always to just make it about the customer. When we focus solely on the customer, everything usually falls into place.

Ask questions and connect with the customer. I guarantee you that by asking a few questions, you will find something in common with your customer that will make them comfortable enough to do business with you.

I would like to say thanks to a few of my mentors and close friends in the business: I would like to thank my dad (Delynn Hutchins), Dee Hutchins Jr., Ed Abell, Jason Smith, Roman Stoll, Ruben Miller, Chris Davis-Eagle Carports, and my wife and kids for their support.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my story and I encourage all of you to go out today and sell lots of sheds and carports.

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