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 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, 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

Brand New Store v. Remodel Existing Showroom

 Vol.2, Issue 1


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


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!

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.

9-Make Your Showroom The Place To Be

Make Your Showroom The Place To Be

December 2015


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


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.


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.


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.

6-Develop a Retail Mentality

Develop A Retail Mentality

September 2015

6-Retail mentality



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?


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.


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


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

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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



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.



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.


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


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


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.