Hopefully by now you’re seeing the upside of the recent economic slump. While things were bleak for quite a while, things have certainly begun to turn around.
Perhaps during this time you were sitting on your money, much like our customers, waiting to see what would happen next. But now that the economic climate appears to be improving, it’s time for all of us to take a serious look at our showrooms and determine how we can upgrade and improve them. In other words, it’s time to figure out which displays are out of date, which appliances are no longer current, and where and how can we dress up the old-looking displays we may be carrying.
While those issues are obviously important, how about analyzing the outside of your showroom? After all, this is a part of your showroom, too, and you need to be aware of what your potential clients are seeing before they ever walk into your showroom. What is the impression it gives off?
For instance, is your signage old and out of date? Are the lights all working and is it clean and fresh looking? How about the storefront windows? Are they clean, well-kept and welcoming? If not, now would be a great time to begin to get the “newness” back into your showroom.
Let’s assume your showroom has at least one display that is out of date by three to five years. We all know how expensive it can be to change them out, so let’s consider ways to make changes without a major investment.
How about dressing it up a bit? How can we do that? If the cabinets are current, think about replacing the countertop and the sink and faucet with some newer products. If you don’t have tile on the backsplash, consider putting in a tile display to show customers what you can do for them (which will help them visualize their project) while simultaneously dressing up the display.
How about undercabinet lighting? Now would be a great time to add the new LED lights to make the display stand out. If you don’t sell many of these items because you’re not very familiar with them, now is the time to update your knowledge, because these are items that go into most every kitchen that is sold now. Plus, it adds an eco-conscious selling point to your firm.
The same thing holds true for appliances. A one-stop shopping experience is always a better way to go for your clients, so be sure you can offer everything your clients need so they don’t have to look elsewhere for products they could readily buy from your firm.
Updating Bath Displays
How about your bath business? I know many kitchen dealers do not do baths. If this is the case with your firm, you’re missing out on a tremendous amount of business and profit.
In fact, many kitchen and bath firms have told me over the past 18 months that if it had not been for their bath business, they would not still be in business. Realistically, designing baths is simply an extension of what you’re already doing, so give some serious thought to adding that design service.
However, if you’re already in the bath business, changing out some of those old bath displays is another way to freshen up your showroom. Think of things you’ve designed for your customers’ baths and add them to your showroom.
Something I’ve done for years that our customers really like is to put 12"-deep and 12"-high wall cabinets over the tub or shower in the soffit area. How about using the space between studs and recessing a tall medicine cabinet for additional storage space?
If you want to display a variety of products, consider getting a display board with a selection of different showerheads and hanging it in a shower display. You can do the same with ceramic tile boards, so that your clients can see different ways the area can look.
Does your flooring need updating? Too often we tend to run the same flooring throughout the entire showroom. What if you could install a small bit of flooring in the displays to create a feeling of a real bathroom or kitchen?
Install some of the small items you may have available, such as the warm floor systems, heat lamps in a bathroom, lighted makeup mirrors, etc. If possible, make some of the displays working so you can show your clients how the oven lights up and the ease of selecting the different cycles of the appliance.
Little things matter, too. For instance, it’s amazing what a coat of paint can do to liven up a showroom or display area. And when is the last time you actually cleaned the showroom? If the answer is longer than you care to admit, then consider establishing a regular maintenance program.
Working with Vendors
Today, more than ever before, vendors are willing to do whatever it takes to get their products into your showroom. This can translate to deep discounts and in some cases free displays. Additional discounts are often available for having those products on display.
If you are willing to commit to a vendor, they will make a commitment to you. One of the problems I see is that some showrooms have too many cabinet lines or fixture lines. If you take on a line just for one or two door styles, or a faucet because of one style you like, you’re not doing right by the vendor. Through a buying group, you can have many products available that allow you to really be important to your vendors.
If you’re designing a kitchen with a sitting area, it only makes sense to offer a selection of bar stools to go along with the job. Offering a variety of lighting fixtures is an opportunity to increase the size of the sale and its overall profitability. Don’t neglect small things, such as an air switch for the garbage disposer.
Ultimately, it is our job to make the buying experience as easy as possible for our clients. The showroom that has the most products that will fulfill customers’ needs is most likely to have a better chance of selling the project.
Take some time to upgrade or renew your showroom. Start small, with one display, and consider how you can make it a winner.
Accessories are a big part of creating the overall look as well. Go to a store like TJ Maxx or Marshalls and see if they would be willing to put some of their products in your showroom.
We work with a couple of interior designers, and they have showroom furniture, pictures and tables in our showroom. You can be an additional outlet for these companies, and at the same time create a beautiful showroom. Often it is the little something extra that makes your customer want to do business with you.
Create displays that are really special. If you’re not comfortable doing this, how about offering your sales or design staff a chance to design that display? You may be surprised what a good job they will do – and the pride that will come with it is priceless.