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!

Showroom Cost Management

Brand New Store v. Remodel Existing Showroom

 Vol.2, Issue 1

daveBreaker

One of the strongest trends in the Kitchen and bath industry is to expand the offerings of your showroom. The kitchen and bath industry alone introduces approximately 1100 new or redesigned products every year. That’s mind boggling, considering that’s just in our little corner of the merchandising world. If you’re trying to expand your showroom’s offerings by developing a “retail mentality” then you’ll be faced with some tough decisions and commitments if you are to succeed. I was raised with the philosophy, “Put your best effort into it or don’t bother”. One of our best and longest-term clients add, “You’re either in the showroom business or your not”. We plan to share our thoughts and insights in this newsletter based on the trends we see across industries but, can be shared as indicators, revealed by thebuying public. This series can provide food for thought if you are looking to make a move to take your showroom to new horizons, be it a modest remodel, a grand addition or expanding out a new location. The following is a quick checklist to help you determine where your showroom is and where there may be room for improvement.

  • Is my showroom inviting from the first moment my customer get out of their car with clear way-finding to the entrance?
  • Does my showroom feel welcoming tomy customer upon entering the doors?
  • Is the view into my showroom dramatic and visually exciting?
  • Is there a staff member stationed close to the entry to greet my customers?
  • Is my showroom neat, clean and uncluttered? Visually appealing and not visually confusing as my customer enters the showroom space?
  • Are my product offerings up-to-date and current with manufacturers advertising?
  • Are the displays that hold the merchandise, neat and in good repair i.e. no chips, cracks, no voids or missing product?

This is the first in a series of 12 topics outlining successful showroom design principles. Look for next months topic: Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Contact David Hawkins for a FREE Showroom Design Consultation!

12-Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

March 2016

12 image

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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

bullet20

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

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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

.

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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

bullet20

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.

bullet20

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.