Showroom Design Cost Management, Vol. 2, Issue 8

How Quickly Can it Be Done?

 Vol.2, Issue 8


stop watch

Once you have made the commitment to undertake a building/remodeling project, the task of selecting who will do it, is the next order of business. I can say with a certainty that every wholesaler/showroom owner knows a contractor/customer that they believe can do the job for them. In most cases they are mistaken in their belief for many reasons.

Here’s why:

● When you select a customer or friend they have a tendency to take advantage of the relationship in ways they would not for any other client. Deadlines and completion schedules are not taken as seriously.

● They may try to work your project in with other work as “fill in” to try to save you some money.

● Clipping corners with building protocols, permits, architectural drawings and city or state requirements may save the contractor time but cost you in fines and shut downs.

● The perception of favoritism for one customer over another to do the work may potentially alienate your other customers.

● Many wholesalers/showrooms have reliable contractor relationships, however it has been my experience across the country that it’s not worth the cost and loss of a good relationship. “Don’t step over a dollar to pick up a dime”. The money you’re trying to save could very well end up costing you more in delays along with peace of mind.

● Don’t build or remodel without a complete set of drawings. Building “fast track” which means that you are building as you are designing; this may or may not save time but for sure it will always cost you 20% or more from my experience.

● Have all the finish materials that usually have long lead times ordered, delivered and in hand or close to being in hand before tearing apart your showroom.

● Work with your vendors to have all the product you plan to display, ready to install when your finished displays are completed. *Just a note here. If you have to pay for any product from your vendors be sure to include that in your cost budget.

This is the eigth in a series of 12 topics outlining successful Showroom Design Cost Management. Look for next month’s topic: Keeping the Doors Open… Pardon Our Dust.

Contact David Hawkins for a FREE Showroom Design Consultation!

Showroom Design Cost Management, Vol. 2, Issue 7

How Much Is This Going To Cost?

 Vol.2, Issue 7


How much is this going to cost? Like we haven’t heard that before, right? For most showroom owners and managers, that is really what weighs heaviest on their minds when deciding to remodel or build a showroom.

The first thing you need to establish after determining that you are going ahead with the project and have established the type of showroom you want, is to create a budget. Budgeting is as much of a mental issue as it is a financial issue. The dollar amount you determine you can comfortably afford in your mind might not be realistic in creating the showroom you want. That can be very discouraging to say the least.

Every job has a budget. Period! The core of success and happiness with your building project begins with an accurate and realistic budget. My experience in the construction industry for over 40 years and the design field for over 35 years have allowed me to go back and test the cost projections for showroom projects. I have developed a schedule of budgets that will keep you out of trouble cost-wise and help create a realistic expectation of expenses.

David L. Hawkins Design Management

Budgetary Cost Guidelines per Square Foot for Showroom Programs

Please see the following chart for our budgetary cost per Square Foot:

Demolition                                                        $ 1.50 per sq.ft.

New walls w/ blocking & light carpentry   $ 9.75 per sq.ft.

Electrical & lighting                                        $ 14.00 per sq.ft.

Ceiling Grid (no pads)                                   $ 3.00 per sq.ft.

Painting                                                            $ 3.00 per sq.ft.

Plumbing (Existing)                                       $ 3.50 per sq.ft.

Floor coverings                                               $ 4.50 per sq.ft.

Displays & Millwork                                      $ 60.00 per sq.ft.

Custom Shower Display                                $ 6.00 per sq.ft.

Furniture                                                          $ 6.00 per sq.ft.

Contingency                                                     $ 4.00 per sq.ft.

Total Budgetary Cost per Square Foot   $115.25 per sq

These budgetary costs are meant only to be guidelines and may be adjusted based on the type of construction and nature of your showroom remodeling. I should point out, that the contingency budget is one of the most important numbers to include in you budget, due to unforeseen problems that always arise during construction. These guideline budgets are developed to consider construction costs nationwide other than Hawaii. (Which I look forward to making a study of! )

This is the seventh in a series of 12 topics outlining successful Showroom Design Cost Management. Look for next month’s topic: How Quickly Can It Be Done.

Contact David Hawkins for a FREE Showroom Design Consultation!

Showroom Cost Management, Vol.2 Issue 6

Preparing For Showroom Displays

 Vol.2, Issue 6


DHDM Blog-Preparing Displays 2-6bDHDM Blog-Preparing Displays 2-6aYou have created a floor plan and you are satisfied with how your customer will circulate through your merchandise. You have your “Star of The Show” positioned in the best possible place. It is now time to figure out the best way to display the rest of your product lines.

 This is a checklist of points to consider before having your displays built:

  •  Have an accurate count of all product you want to display.
  •  Select more than you plan to display, then prioritize and eliminate accordingly.
  •  Leave room for expansion.
  •  Group product into “families” if possible. Faucets and towel bars of the same trim design should be shown together to help “build the check”.
  •  Plan for your vendors to help you with display costs.
  •  Don’t be afraid to let your preferred vendor know where you plan to have their product displayed within your showroom. Their location should depend on how much they are willing to defray the display costs.
  •  Try to standardize types of displays so when something new comes in, you aren’t forced to reengineer your displays. This can be achieved with a little prior planning and you will see the benefits for years to come.
  •  All displays should be as modular and interchangeable as possible to maximize usage.
  •  Modular displays achieve more density for display in a smaller area. This allows maximum product per square foot, giving you more sales floor area.
  •  The finish of your displays should use color that will complement all finishes; first thought is that it should be white. Not so.
  •  Get templates for items that require cut-outs such as tubs, sinks and especially “farmhouse” sinks which are more difficult mountings.
  •  Handmade clay sinks, stone sinks, and hammered metal sinks can expand and contract due to temperature and humidity. These should be cut in the field.

This is the sixth in a series of 12 topics outlining successful Showroom Design Cost Management. Look for next month’s topic: How Much Is This Going To Cost.

Contact David Hawkins for a FREE Showroom Design Consultation!

Showroom Design Cost Management Vol.2, Issue 5

Planning & Display Strategies For Your Showroom

 Vol.2, Issue 5



While you are designing your new/remodeled showroom floor plan, here are some strategies to consider during the design process.

1. Parking lot & customer entryway- Parking areas should be clean, neat and well lit. Separate the contractor entry from your retail entry. Seasonal adornments and outdoor speakers playing pleasing music all add to a welcoming atmosphere.

2. Welcome area and refreshments- Upon entering, your customers should be greeted and offered refreshments, a place to sit and relax and be allowed to browse your “boutique” for a few minutes while waiting for assistance.

3. Circulation- This is very important; balancing the need to display a large variety of products while maintaining a spacious look, allowing room for growth and most importantly, following handicap clearances required by law.

4. Staff Offices- Establish your offices in close proximity to the showroom lobby and work areas. Confidential information should be put away when leaving to assist other customers.

5. Work area within the showroom- When sales staff are working with clients it is very helpful for your staff to leave their desk as is, to meet with clients on the showroom floor rather than bring them to their desks. If possible plan an outside space as an option on nice days.

6. Working displays, sinks, showers and tubs- Most every up-to-date showroom has working display’s of some type. Consider those locations for cost savings early during the planning stage.

7. Lighting- Anyone that has worked with me knows I feel lighting is the single, most important element to effectively display your merchandise.

8. Washrooms- Make your washrooms working displays. This creates is an opportunity to build up your customer base by using a local designer/customer to help with the decorating.

9. Aging-In-Place Products- This is a large and growing segment of our society & should not be overlooked in showroom planning.

10. Designer Areas- More and more professionals come to showrooms with clients and prefer to be left to work without a third person involved. Provide space, maybe a video monitor, internet access and refreshments.

11. Training Room-Break Room- Having the space to train is very helpful when sales reps come in for a “lunch and learn” or present new product lines. Any lunchroom should be remote from the main showroom.

12. The closet, electrical, lighting controls, and internet- This space may already be in place. However, it has been an issue in the last few showrooms where an extra closet made sense for expanded use of electronic equipment being called upon for showroom upgrades.

13. Storage of support materials- There never seems to enough room for literature, paper, design books.

14. Showroom access- Most showrooms have direct access to the sales floor from the warehouse. Layout the showroom floor so that you don’t have to move a dozen things to switch out one item, or have to bring things in through the front door.

15. Internet sales area- Does your showroom need a “will call” area? If you are palnning for internet sales, you will want a pick-up/storage area.

This is the fifth in a series of 12 topics outlining successful Showroom Design Cost Management. Look for next month’s topic:Preparing for Showroom Displays.

Contact David Hawkins for a FREE Showroom Design Consultation!

Showroom Design Cost Management-4

The Process Can Now Begin

 Vol.2, Issue 4


After you decide what type of showroom you want, one geared toward retailing or one geared to the trade (wholesalers), the next step is to determine what you will display. Displaying products that bring in higher margins, move quickly and invite interest will attract more customers into your showroom. For example, you might feature a nationally recognized product seen on television or print advertising. These are the “Hot” items that should be viewed in a dedicated “Just Arrived” or “Look What’s New” area of your showroom. The space need not be large, just attractively lit with clear sight-lines from the front door. This will also give you an opportunity to hold “new product events” at your showroom. Next, consider how you display the products that make up your core business. These are the items you sell day in and day out — your “bread and butter” items. These products will most likely take up the majority of your floor space, so it is paramount to display as much as possible in the least amount of space without looking “cluttered.”

When creating a retail area within your showroom, a few things need to be considered when choosing the look and location within your store.

  1. The retail space should be located near the main public entry to the showroom. This will invite customers to browse while waiting for staff assistance.
  2. Offer refreshments near the retail space to create a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere while customers browse the merchandise.
  3. Differentiate the retail space by using different finishes than those used in the other display areas, defining the retail shop while complementing the showroom displays.

This is the fourth in a series of 12 topics outlining successful Showroom Design Cost Management. Look for next month’s topic: Planning & Display Strategies For Your Showroom.

Contact David Hawkins for a FREE Showroom Design Consultation!

Showroom Design Cost Management, Issue 3

What Kind of Showroom

Do You Want?

 Vol.2, Issue 3


The showroom you create will be based on the merchandise that you want to sell. Whether you decide that you need to expand into kitchen and bath related items or you prefer to stay with a traditional wholesaler/showroom, it’s important to maintain and gain market share. One thing is for certain: change is inevitable — you can make it part of your showroom’s mission or you can suffer on the sidelines.

One trend that is gaining attention is the retail kitchen and bath store. Traditionally, kitchen and bath showrooms are attached or part of the wholesaler’s warehouse. These generally are located in industrial areas for a very good reason. Contractors, plumbers and builders are not bothered by trucks and muddy boots, chilly interiors and no-frills displays.

Today’s customers are younger and more product savvy, preferring to shop and price compare online rather than schlepping out and shopping in an industrial environment. Fortunately, if they want an air-tub and want to see how it works, touch it, feel it, sit in it, they will have to come to you. Do you want a showroom that makes them say ”WOW!” and stay and browse for related items, perhaps even get inspired to upgrade to a higher price point? Or are you content to continue offering what has worked for the last 20 years by only catering to plumbers/builders?

You may say, “What’s wrong with having the trades as your main customers? Our profits are just fine selling that way.” That may be true, depending on where in the country you’re located — but change is coming at an increasing speed. Our business has a tendency to wait and see what other industries do in relation to consumer trends..

This is the third in a series of 12 topics outlining successful Showroom Design Cost Management. Look for next month’s topic: The Process Can Now Begin.

Contact David Hawkins for a FREE Showroom Design Consultation!

Showroom Cost Management

Should It Stay or Should It Go?

 Vol.2, Issue 2


Once you have decided that your showroom needs a facelift or it’s time to open a new location, the first questions you need to ask yourself are: What are we going to sell? Will our offerings stay the same? Will we use the opportunity to switch out to more updated product? Will we expand to a wider range of products? Are we going to venture into new areas of merchandising?

These are very important elements to consider for the future of your showroom success, growth, and place in the retail arena. The movement within our industry to offer many more items related to the kitchen/bath business is gaining in popularity and quickly being adopted.

Wholesalers that have showrooms open to the buying public have been resisting change ever since my first showroom in 1996. I’m not saying that showrooms won’t prosper without the wholesale business; good wholesalers will still succeed, but they are leaving money on the table.

Many larger companies in the kitchen/bath industry have ventured out into related products, creating destination retail profit centers.

This is the second in a series of 12 topics outlining successful showroom design principles. Look for next month’s topic: What Kind of Showroom Do You Want?

Contact David Hawkins for a FREE Showroom Design Consultation!

12-Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

March 2016

12 image


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

11- Market Your Brand

Market Your Brand

February 2016


What are some of the chronic problems you have seen in this industry during the years you have spent in this business?


In the years I have been working in the plumbing showroom business (since 1985), I have observed how manufacturers have had or wanted control of how the product is presented. The larger and more popular the manufacturer is, the greater the control it seeks over distributors. I have fought this idea for 30 years now and finally the tides are changing. Your showroom has more clout than you realize. It is time for you to flex the muscle that you have.


We have already discussed principles and ideas that will help you create healthy and profitable relationships with your clients. You can appeal to their sensibilities and develop a bond of trust. Trust and loyalty is the foundation for all of us in this business. Our manufacturer partners that use our floor space have to help us create and nurture the bond we need to build with the upcoming generation of customers and clients.

bullet20Use little or none of the graphics or displays that promote the brands that you sell in your showroom, even if you get them for free. It is more important that your customers see visuals that boost YOUR brand, YOUR showroom business.

bullet20This is not to say that you should not tell your clients what lines you carry. You absolutely must! But put that information on your website, on a product line card or a printed hand-out. My preference is to see all of the showroom’s offerings listed on the back of your staff’s business cards. Don’t allow manufacturers to dominate your showroom interior with their own brand names. Those days have ended.

bullet20Leverage the strength of your showroom with your manufacturers by auctioning off the best display space to the vendors who will help you the most. They can offer you co-op funds, advertising, additional free products or provide display maintenance. It is worth it to the manufacturer because the prime display space will generate higher sales. This is just what grocery stores do with their end cap displays at the end of the every aisle.

Look for next month’s topic: Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone.

10-Plan for New Product Introductions That Excite

Plan for New Product Introductions That Excite

January 2016


How do you maintain a high level of excitement in your showroom?


Mix things up. This takes a lot of work, but gives everyone reasons to stop in and see what’s new.


New products will bring people into your showroom. Products that are edgy or are cutting into new industry territory generate lots of buzz.


Learn and apply what you see at industry trade show introductions. Use the manufacturer’s resources and momentum to carry that energy through to your clients.


Create a special place in your showroom for the new “featured attraction.” Make it a little more dramatic than the rest of the

showroom displays.


Come 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.