12-Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

March 2016

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patBreaker

We have reached your 12th principle. What is your final piece of advice for designing successful showrooms?

daveBreaker

Change is a certainty and we need to address it, in particular regarding the morphing client base. The generation of upcoming customers does not practice the traditional protocol in making purchase decisions. They narrow down their selections, shop the brands and prices and have their notes in hand before they leave the house. Many do not even leave the house but choose to shop and buy online. This is just one example of how technology has changed current and future trends and conditions.

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Get online! Most showrooms nationwide have embraced the electronic age. Some are even trying to capture sales via the Internet. This is a serious commitment. More is needed.

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Provide your sales staff with iPads or tablets that they can carry with them on the showroom floor as they accompany clients. Create multiple “perch” locations scattered throughout the showroom so that staff remains in plain sight. I call this approach “Apple retailing.” You will recognize it if you have ever visited an Apple store. This is not the traditional way that showrooms operate. It will take courage to make this kind of change.

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Invest in new equipment and training for your sales staff so they can use electronic note pads to take orders. Like most people, showroom salespeople may resist change. It is hard to work the training into everyone’s schedule when they are busy working during the week. But the cost and effort is well worth it.

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Add displays that operate electronically. This is an improvement that will move your showroom “ahead of the pack.” Your sales staff can demonstrate electronically operated shower heads, air tubs and tub fillers. Your salespeople need iPads or tablets and smart phones and should be able to work off-site. I am amazed at how commonplace it has become to operate off-site.

Look for for more insights into Successful Showroom Style soon!

9-Make Your Showroom The Place To Be

Make Your Showroom The Place To Be

December 2015

patBreaker

Do you advocate using the showroom for more than just showing products?

daveBreaker

Absolutely! If you are practicing all of the principles I have described in this series of columns, you can feel confident that people enjoy visiting your showroom. They appreciate the way your showroom tantalizes all of their senses and how your staff makes them feel special; and they discover exciting things happening at every turn. Working toward implementing these design principles will pay big dividends.

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Invite professionals to use your showroom as their own. They will visit more often, buy more and do most of the product selection themselves. This should free up your staff to do other things.

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Give your frequent visitors the “keys.” Let them get their own drinks, coffee and snacks. Provide an area for them that they can adopt as their “home away from home.”

bullet20Schedule gatherings in your showroom on a monthly, quarterly or annual (your business anniversary?) basis. The idea is to get people together. Our office policy has called for a monthly extended lunch of two hours or longer. We cook the food in our smoker, then share a good meal, bond, vent and share. Due to workloads and crazy deadlines we can’t always do this every month. But we try to get together like this to keep from holding on too tightly and to better appreciate each other. This type of event works for customers as well as staff.

bullet20Come up with some type of rewards program for customers and or staff. Let everyone know how much you appreciate them and that you know they could make other choices than you. I frequently give restaurant cards to our team members after a push. It is amazing what a little extra thought by someone does for a persons spirit and overall morale.

Look for next month’s topic: Plan for New Product Introductions That Excite.

8-Attract A New Client Base

Attract A New Client Base

November 2015

patBreaker

Now we have more products and have added more exciting displays. What more can a showroom do to increase sales

daveBreaker

Well, you know the saying, “If you build it they will come,” you can never have too many customers. We always need to bring new orders into our sales center. Here are some ideas on how to do that.

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Join the local Chamber of Commerce, Toastmasters or similar professional organization in your area. At least one member of your sales staff should become a member of one or more of these groups. This will provide valuable outreach opportunities and keep the name of your business visible in the community.

bullet20Also, encourage your sales staff to become members of professional organizations outside of the kitchen and bath industry. For example, ASID offers an industry partner membership that provides exposure to local designers. Offer your showroom as the venue for meetings of professional groups such as AIA, ASID, IIDA.

bullet20Assign a showroom staff member to call on developers, architects, interior designers and realtors and offer your showroom as a resource to help with their clients’ projects. Host “Lunch & Learn” events in your showroom. Professionals can earn continuing education credits and become familiar with your showroom.

bullet20Maximize your use of social media to notify clients of upcoming events, product introductions, promotions, staff achievements, remodeling projects, business anniversaries and other news.

Look for next month’s topic: Make Your Showroom The Place To Be.

7-Helping Your Staff Sell More

Helping Your Staff Sell More

October 2015

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patBreaker

You have shared ways we can sell more with a retail mentality, but what else can we do to increase showroom sales?

daveBreaker

Every showroom manager and owner has the goal of increasing sales but often they fail to facilitate what it takes to achieve higher sales. Invest in your sales staff by providing them with the education and training that will make them the best.

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Support your sales staff by providing them with the best possible showroom, kept clean and in perfect working order at all times.

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As mentioned in design principle #6, expand your venue. Create excitement in your showroom by developing a retail mentality and consumer-friendly atmosphere.

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Keep up with current technology. This works hand-in-hand with staff training. Updating systems, inventory and product information will prevent you from having to play “catch-up.” It’s especially hard to do when your showroom is busy.

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Hire support staff to fill out quotes and orders when your showroom is very busy. Free up your highly trained staff from data entry tasks so they can focus on engaging customers and making the sales.

bullet20Consider how far you can take this retail mentality. Check out what your competitors are doing to expand their showroom offerings. Do they carry lighting, fireplaces, home furnishings? Some have opened stand-alone stores separate from the wholesale portion of their business. These new facilities are located in a retail shopping area or design district to capture walking and impulse traffic.

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Develop Internet/email sales geared toward the needs of your higher volume commercial accounts. If possible, have a designated pick-up area in the showroom for repeat customers.
Look for next month’s topic: Attract A New Client Base

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6-Develop a Retail Mentality

Develop A Retail Mentality

September 2015

6-Retail mentality

 

patBreaker

Now that we have brought our merchandise to life and made it the star of the show, is it time for our showroom staff to start writing orders?

daveBreaker

That is correct. But remember, it can get even better! Your showroom is a destination! The only reason customers come to your showroom is to purchase a product they already decided they want and that you have to sell.

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Inspire impulse sales. Take advantage of the buying mood of your customers by surprising them with unexpected products displayed nearby that may complement their purchases.

bullet20Accessorize your showroom with goods that will enable you to make your margin. Many accessories have higher margins than your standard merchandise.

bullet20Make everything in your showroom available for purchase. The items you use to decorate and accessorize your displays should be available for sale. Help customers with limited design expertise recreate the look they fell in love with in your showroom.

bullet20Offer complementary products for sale. For example, the bathroom section of your showroom can have displays of soaps, salt scrubs, bath brushes, towels, robes, etc. In the kitchen area, create displays of specialty cleaners, cooking utensils and other accoutrements, aprons, coffees. You get the idea.

bullet20Consider how far you can take this retail mentality. Check out what your competitors are doing to expand their showroom offerings. Do they carry lighting, fireplaces, home furnishings? Some have opened stand-alone stores separate from the wholesale portion of their business. These new facilities are located in a retail shopping area or design district to capture walking and impulse traffic.

bullet20Partner with a skilled retailer to handle this traffic if you are brave enough to enter the retail arena with a stand-alone store. Don’t burden your skilled staff with selling “soft goods.”

bullet20Sell gift certificates and specialty gift baskets filled with items on display and available for sale in the showroom. At holiday times, these can function as tremendous “check builders” for showrooms that do it right.

Look for next month’s topic: Helping Your Staff Sell More.

Display Merchandise That Comes To Life

Display Merchandise That Comes To Life

August 2015

patBreaker

Now that we are bringing the merchandise to “center stage” how do we keep customers interested in continuing their journey through the showroom?
daveBreaker

The days of having static displays are over. Today’s customers have already researched and narrowed down their preferences before they ever step through your door.

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Install products in working displays that look just as they would in someone’s home. This will bring you that much closer to a successful sale.

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Appeal to all five senses with working displays. Running water, a bubbling air tub, various flows from rain heads and body spas, the warm feel of towel warmers and heat mats will all impress customers. Ensure your water temperature stays warm and pleasant to the touch. Water that is too cold or hot will get a negative reaction. Your showroom cannot have too many working displays.

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Be careful when choosing which products to present in working displays. You want to get the biggest bang for your buck.

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Don’t worry about not having a drain in the floor for a woking display. We have designed many working displays that do not require a floor drain.

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Maintain all working displays to ensure they are pristine in appearance and function correctly. Just like dead flowers in the entryway, working displays that are unkempt, dirty or not performing properly will do more harm than good.

Look for next month’s topic:Develop A Retail Mentality.

Make Your Merchandise the Star of the Show

Make Your Merchandise the Star of the Show

July 2015

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patBreaker

After we have impressed and excited customers by appealing to their five senses, what happens next?daveBreaker

We are not yet finished. Remember to treat each customer like a celebrity on the Red Carpet as he or she enters the showroom. Offer refreshments. Hang up coats. Make them feel special. But make no mistake, the customers are in your showroom because of the MERCHANDISE you offer.

 

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Dazzle customers with the very best products you carry as they journey into your showroom. By this I mean, highlight the best products you have, not necessarily the most popular or best-selling. More than likely, these are the least likely to sell, but they will impress.

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Remember that luxury images linger longest in the customers’ subconscious.

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Maintain neat, clean displays that flatter the merchandise. The products do not need to compete for attention.

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NO VOIDS! Do not allow any empty spaces in your displays even if you have to display two identical items due to lack of variety.

bullet20Lighting. Lighting. Lighting. This is the most important element and one that most showrooms pay the least attention to.

bullet20As a last option, it may be acceptable to display products in their original containers if they are clean and all packing materials have been removed. Direct a spotlight on it so the product can sell itself by looking attractive and inviting to touch. .

bullet20Just as happens for actors on the stage, the proper light focused on your products will make them the center of attention, exciting and dazzling.This is the third in a series of 12 topics outlining showroom principles.

Look for next month’s topic: Display Merchandise That Comes to Life.

Tantalize The Senses

Tantalize the Senses

June 2015

Senses

patBreaker

Okay, so what happens after the customer walks through the door and says, “Wow!” — What comes next?
daveBreaker

Next is what I call the “Walt Disney vision.” When Walt Disney created Disneyland, it was his goal to tantalize all five senses for his guests. Your showroom should strive to do the same thing.

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Sound: As stated in design principle #1, pipe soft, pleasant music for customers to hear as they approach the outside entrance and then enter the showroom. Let the music continue as they explore the inside of the showroom.

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Sight: As mentioned in both design principles #1 and #2, make your parking lot and entrance to the showroom visually appealing to capture the interest of customers as they approach; when they first enter the showroom, wow them with something beautiful.

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Taste: Offer palate-pleasing refreshments. These treats do not have to be large, extravagant or expensive. Provide small cookies from a local bakery, or wrapped candies or chocolates. I favor Hershey kisses and plain M&Ms. Who doesn’t like M&Ms? Whatever works for you is fine. Mix it up.

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Smell: It is a little-known fact that smell is the strongest and most powerful driver of our senses. Fragrances, scents and odors can trigger a host of emotions and memories, good and bad. Begin with the welcoming smell of coffee, which should be available to guests upon arrival. Other great aromas that are popular and effective in retail environments include cinnamon rolls, baked bread, lavender and vanilla.

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Touch: This is my favorite sense for your showroom! The finishes available today on the products you carry are the finest you have seen or touched. Enjoy the smooth, pleasant feeling beneath your hand as you touch the metal finish of faucets and hardware fixtures. Further enhance your customers’ experience by letting them feel the flow of water in working displays. Maintain a warm and pleasant water temperature for maximum positive impact.

This is the third in a series of 12 topics outlining showroom principles.  Look for next month’s topic: Make Your Merchandise The Star Of The Show.

Walk Into Wow 2

 Walk Into Wow

May 2015

patBreaker

What should a showroom focus on for the walk-in customer?

daveBreaker

When entering your showroom, the customer’s reaction should be: “Wow! I came to the right place!”

bullet20Inspire this “Wow” by presenting a beautiful element for customers to see as they enter. This may be the attractively designed, well-lit logo/sign for your showroom. Or, it may be your handsomely designed waiting area that includes comfortable seating where customers can “decompress” and enjoy a beverage or snack before embarking on their journey.

bullet20Build anticipation. Don’t overwhelm customers with too much beauty and inspiration all at once. Entice them to move forward and explore the showroom for more fascinating features. Create a sense of excitement for the journey ahead.

bullet20Position a trained greeter to promptly welcome your customers. This greeter is your “vice president of first impressions” and must be a “people person,” engaging, helpful, exuding positive energy. Your greeter treats customers like celebrities, offers them refreshments and above all, shows them how excited and happy you are to have them in your showroom.

bullet20Ask your customers, via your greeter, what brought them to your showroom. Find out what particular products might be of interest to them. Inquire how they heard about your showroom. Was it an Internet search, a friend, a contractor? This information will prove useful to your sales and marketing team when reaching out to future customers.

This is the first in a series of 12 topics outlining showroom principles.  Look for next month’s topic: Walk Into Wow.

First Impressions

 First Impressions

April 2015

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patBreaker

Everyone can agree that offering the best products in the most attractive setting is key to generating sales and a quality customer experience, but what are some of the areas that showrooms seem to miss the mark?

daveBreaker

Let’s start right from when your customer pulls into the showroom parking lot.  Here is a list of my showroom best practices for first impressions:

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Your showroom’s first impression starts before a customer gets out of their car.

bullet20Have a great looking storefront that reads well from the street

bullet20The parking lot should be clean, neat and paved if possible with parking spaces clearly marked.

bullet20A covered entryway provides cover from inclement weather, to and from your patrons cars and defines your entry point.

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Provide separate parking space for your wholesale customers.  Large contractor and construction vehicles need their own space.  Showroom parking should be separate wherever possible.

bullet20Seasonal plantings and flowers add a warm and inviting feel to your showroom entry, but if you plant them you MUST maintain them.  Dead plants are far worse than no plants at all.

bullet20Provide pleasant, soft music from the showroom to the outside entry to help reinforce the experience prior to entering.

bullet20Have some illuminated display in your street-side windows, if you have them.  This serves as a cost effective sales tool for your showroom at night.  Colored lighting will catch the eye of passersby.

bullet20You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Make it the best you possibly can.

This is the first in a series of 12 topics outlining showroom principles.  Look for next month’s topic: Walk Into Wow.