As I travel around the country and see numerous kitchen and bath showrooms, it occurs to me that many of the employees who work in them do not have the same commitment to the showroom experience that the owners have.
Perhaps the biggest problem I see is the lack of maintenance. I’m not necessarily talking about everyday cleaning; rather, I am talking about the showroom that is not taken care of in general.
It reminds me of the new car we bring home from the dealership. When we first get it home, it’s clean, inside and out. We even, on occasion, will take a cloth and try our best to clean off any dust that has developed on the hood. We walk around it and check every inch of the surface of that car for dings or dents. Even if we’re not normally automobile enthusiasts, we take pride in the car. We show it off to friends and tell them how great it is.
The problem is, after a while, we may lose sight of the greatness of that car. When once we would never have considered eating in that car, now it is an everyday event. Maybe it has gotten a ding or two so now, instead of parking it where no other cars go, we park it wherever there’s a spot and don’t care if the door gets another ding.
Sadly, this is how I think many of us treat our showrooms. When we first get a showroom to a point of completion, we have an open house to show it off, and we take great pride and care to keep it clean and beautiful. But then, little by little, we allow things to slide by. Where once we would never have thought of removing a drawer or a door, we now allow a door handle to leave so a customer can see how it would look in her home. We start putting junk on the countertop because “there’s no other place for it.” We remove pieces and parts from the display and forget to put them back or replace them. Pretty soon the display starts looking old and tired, and the worse it looks, the less attention it gets.
This often takes place throughout the showroom. Anywhere there is floor space is a good spot for that cabinet door that is returned and needs to go back to the factory for repair. Delivery items from UPS or DHL may sit on a display or the front counter until the right person finds time to put them where they belong.
How often do we take items to the front desk that a customer is going to pick up…sometime? Too often, these sit for a week or more because the homeowner forgot to come in.
Likewise, are your customer bathrooms as clean as they should be, or is this just another room that someone else will take care of “when they get around to it?” Have you ever gone into a business and used the bathroom, only to find that there was dirt or dust all over, the waste can was overflowing and there was no soap, toilet paper or hand towels? This reflects badly on the company and everyone associated with it.
We may still consider ourselves to be small businesses, but if close attention is paid to these occasional oversights, we can do a better job overall.
Clean it up
I cannot stress this enough: A clean showroom, no matter how large or small, will always make a better impression than a messy or uncared for one.
Do you have a place for customers to sit if they need to wait to meet with someone? Do you have a coffee bar or a refrigerator stocked with soda or water or some sort of refreshment for your customers?
For example, I recall visiting a showroom and was duly impressed that they not only had a self-serve area for the customers, but it had coffee, tea, water, cold drinks, doughnuts and cookies. This showed me that the company was expecting people in the store and that they wanted us to be comfortable as we looked at all the merchandise they had on the floor.
All of this will help to make a positive impression with customers. It can also help to differentiate your showroom from
Are there plenty of trash cans in your showroom for customers to put trash in? If not, how about using the displays with built-in trash units? Are the lights in your displays all working? Do bathrooms get checked twice daily for cleanliness and upkeep?
How about including a changing table in the rest room for customers with babies?
It’s also a good idea to have a designated area (out of sight from showroom traffic) for boxes, doors and other items being delivered. Get everyone, including the workmen, to participate in your efforts to keep things clean, neat and organized. If you have a working kitchen, and especially if customers will see it, make sure everyone knows they are responsible for cleaning up dirty dishes, countertops and tables.
If we keep our showrooms as neat and clean as most of us keep our homes, we would have better showrooms. Clutter in a professional kitchen and bath showroom usually is an indication of how projects are going to be run. If your customer sees this, it may be the last opportunity you’ll have to converse with them.
The same is true with how well your displays are installed. If they are not installed professionally and there are gaps at the miters or spaces where they do not belong, this speaks volumes about what clients can expect in their own project installations. And honestly, why would you let your displays be spoiled once so much work has gone into them?
Likewise, outdated displays make a negative statement about your business. If you can’t afford to change them out right now, it’s better to replace them with free-standing displays than to showcase something that’s been discontinued or that is clearly out of date.
Along the same lines, clear the front door or window of outdated stickers that mean nothing to most people. Only display industry-related ones, such as your affiliation with the NKBA, NARI, BKBG or DPHA. These types of associations show that your company is involved in the industry. And make sure your signage is up to date, bright and clean. Signage on your front window that says “Thanks for looking in” encourages people to come browse, expanding your pool of prospects.
Lets take a whole new look at our showrooms and see if we can make some major improvements for the new year. Most of us spend as much time in our showrooms as we do our homes, so why not give them the same respect?
Hopefully, these ideas will start bringing in more business and better profits for the new year.