The success of a business is often determined during the hardest times. When the economy is robust and consumers are spending money, it can sometimes seem almost easy to draw visitors into your showroom.
But it’s during times when consumer spending is down and customers are scared away by the daily reports of doom and gloom that business owners have the opportunity to really show their moxie. While declining sales and pessimistic economists send some business owners into paralysis, others proactively seek innovative ways to make the best of an imperfect situation.
When your showroom is drawing a steady stream of customers, it’s easy to fall into the autopilot mode of, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately, this stifles creativity, both in your showroom design and in your marketing efforts.
It’s also easy, when business is slow, to justify stagnation by reasoning that the money isn’t available to try new things.
But it’s important to remember that your showroom is a significant business investment. The atmosphere – from the way customers are greeted and treated to the way it is laid out and decorated – tells visitors about you. The way you utilize your showroom is what sets you apart from your competitors.
Taking a creative approach to operating your showroom not only helps to “ride out the storm” during a challenging economy, but also puts you in a stronger position once the market turns upward.
Here are a few ideas for improving how you use your showroom and how you draw in potential customers during a challenging market.
Remove the Clutter
Are unnecessary items in your showroom distracting visitors’ attention from the important things? Too much clutter can overwhelm a customer. Removing distractions not only will refocus your customers’ attention, but also will open up more showroom space.
Real estate agents often utilize professional stagers who specialize in making homes more attractive to potential buyers. You might consider consulting with a professional stager to evaluate what is productive and what isn’t in your showroom.
While you’re removing the physical clutter from your showroom, think about cleaning up your graphical image as well. Today’s marketing and advertising trends stress simplicity.
Look at Apple, for example. While their computers and communications products are highly complex, their image is clean, fresh and understated – a simple silver apple. Apple showrooms emphasize large, uncluttered, open spaces where visitors have room to browse without bumping into other people, offering an environment that is conducive to decision making.
While simplifying your presentation, you might think about the products you’re featuring. A showroom should be dynamic and ever-changing. A customer shouldn’t see the same showroom visit after visit. Regardless of the economy, you need to showcase your business in a bold, engaging way. Don’t wait for business to improve. Stay current – ahead of your competitors.
Something as simple as a fresh coat of paint can change the environment of your showroom. And don’t trivialize cleanliness and maintenance. A ceiling tile, stained by a leaking roof, is likely to be viewed as the sign of an apathetic business. Likewise, a dirty restroom can irreparably damage a visitor’s impression of your business.
Movin' on up
If your showroom is poorly located or cramped, it may be time to look for a newer, bigger or more accessible location.
You may feel that the last thing you want to do in a weak market is invest money in a new building. On the contrary, with real estate values down, you may find the opportunity of a lifetime.
Brian Erickson, owner of Furniture and Carpet Source, of Akron, OH, was able to relocate his 8,500-sq.-ft. showroom down the street to a 35,000-sq.-ft. facility.