Showroom Cost Management

Should It Stay or Should It Go?

 Vol.2, Issue 2

daveBreaker

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!

11- Market Your Brand

Market Your Brand

February 2016

patBreaker

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

daveBreaker

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.

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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.

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

October blog image

 

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

Merch-4

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.