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!

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.

10-Plan for New Product Introductions That Excite

Plan for New Product Introductions That Excite

January 2016

patBreaker

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

daveBreaker

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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.

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.