November 2005 Market Pulse

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Do manufacturers dictate how their displays are showcased in your showroom, and how are your sales affected by this?

"Many manufacturers do dictate [rules for displaying their products], although some are more lenient than others. Generally, they dictate the minimum number of displays that must be purchased for you to become an authorized representative of their company. But if you manage the displays properly, it really helps boost your sales. If the people can't touch or feel or see the product, it limits the response. Everybody is a little bit different in their approach, as far as that goes. I have competitors that have 20 or 30 different cabinet display vignettes to offer, and I think the big box stores are really catering to the masses. When you get more specialized into the high-end, I find that what is most important is seeing the actual color block with the wood species. That makes the displays effective."

Terry Baert, CEO
Kitchen Design Services.com
Bedminster, NJ

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"It doesn't really affect our sales because we don't have manufacturer displays. We sell via catalog and door samples and drawings. We have complete control over our showroom design, but we really don't showcase any kitchen cabinets here because we have limited space. What we will do is bring door samples, brochures and drawings to the client's house. I have heard from other designer friends of mine that have showrooms and they have told me the same thing, however. Basically, they have to designate so much square footage to different lines and then when they change things, they have to change their entire showroom. That gets really expensive."

Terri Hult, president
Hult Interior Design
Kankakee, IL

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"They dictate how many fixtures you need to display to become a preferred dealer, but we are a small boutique, so I display a little bit of a lot of different brands. I don't feel limited at all. If you want to become a distributing dealer, then usually you would have to set aside more predominant areas for certain displays, but we don't do that here. We have about 1,000 square feet of space, and we've got some plumbing fixtures, some cabinetry and some countertops. We are in an unusual situation because we are located in a downtown area with high visibility and a lot of other plumbing showrooms are off the beaten track. I know there are dealers near here who are locked into certain manufacturer displays, so I feel that I have much more creative freedom than they do. We want to be able to do whatever the client wants and not feel beholden to any certain brands. We have access to anything, but

I don't display everything. It works for us."

Tracey Kunz, owner
Renaissance Design & Renovation
Raleigh, NC

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"The answer to that is that they would like to, and they make attempts to do so. In some cases - such as in the appliance industry - if you want the better price, you need to answer to their dictates. You want to show what they say you need to show in order to be a qualified dealer at a certain discount. Normally, if you have the space to show these things, there is not a problem, but when they start infringing upon your valuable space, then it becomes a bit of a negotiation situation. Usually, they tell you the number of pieces you need to show to become an authorized dealer. Of course, they would like them grouped, but they do not specify [that you have to put] the product in the front window. In the cabinetry end of the business, the manufacturers do want you to have some sort of display. The larger, more prestigious ones like to dictate what you are showing and the number of displays you are showing of their product. They do require you to have a working display to be a dealer. Generally, we do not feel that our creativity is infringed upon, if we like the product. It all comes down to what you would like to carry, and how you feel about it. It doesn't feel forced if it is a product you feel positive about and enjoy displaying. The other thing to remember is that legally, manufacturers cannot turn your space into their exclusive showroom, or take your dealership away if you carry other lines. Essentially, they don't like the competition under one roof, but there is not that much they can do about it. In a lot of cases, they will come up with display designs for us, as well. It is not a bad thing, because sometimes we don't have the time to do those things. It definitely helps with client response."

Ted Benz, ASID, PKBP
Bay Cities Kitchen Design Studio
Santa Monica, CA

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"It has been my experience that manufacturers do not dictate what we are going to display. Then again, we just opened up a 9,000-sq.-ft. showroom, so size of displays, or floor space is not much of an issue for us. Manufacturers usually have a minimum requirement as far as what we need to display to become an authorized dealer. I have not had any experience with manufacturers [demanding] where they would like their displays to be placed. I am not experiencing the 'war for the floor' because of the size of our showroom, so we can adequately show all the different lines that we carry - and we do work with four different cabinet manufacturers. I really don't feel like my creativity has been impacted at all. We really haven't had any negative impact or input, although one rep did push a certain product, which did influence us as far as what we were going to display. I think that dealers have to come up with their own plan focusing on their target market and their area and that would be the deciding factor in what lines they should carry."

Lloyd Long, CKD, owner
L Designs
Sinking Spring, PA

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"I haven't really experienced that yet. I am with one manufacturer right now who is pretty much full service. In fact, it doesn't seem that there is much interest on the part of the manufacturer as to what they want in the way of displays. I have had a hard time getting in touch with anybody from the manufacturer because I am updating my showroom and the manufacturer is in the process relocating. I think that has hurt me to a degree, in terms of creativity. I like the freedom to make my displays what I can, but it is also beneficial to get their input so that I could have the best-looking displays I possibly could. However, I wouldn't want anybody to dictate the exact details. I would prefer to have everything balanced. I do have to say that they didn't [demand] anything too complicated upfront in order to become a dealer."

Rich Knight, owner
Knight's Kitchens & Baths
Spokane, WA

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