The business model was developed as soon as the 11,000-square-foot building became available. From concept to move-in required little more than a year, much of which was spent designing a floor plan that would work.
The design center occupies 2,500 square feet of the entire CD&C building, which includes 4,000 square feet of office space plus its finance company in an additional 4,000 square feet. Managing the design center is the responsibility of Arielle Chesler, director of interior architecture, who says the vision was to keep it open and free-flowing without abrupt transitions from one space to the next. “We also wanted to show the widest variety of capabilities within the vignettes. We want people to see our quality of work and be inspired to do something, then hand over the reins to us to design something completely custom that’s all theirs,” Chesler says.
“All the flooring is the same, and clients do not need to move in and out of doorways. We wanted a big space that flows,” she adds. It’s undetermined how often the vignettes will change, but the plan certainly is to keep them current.
Today, less than one year in its new home, the number of prospects has quadrupled from this time one year ago, Chesler says. Projects evolve from clients’ questions, such as, “Which granite did you use on that display?” CD&C’s response is not to sell them granite, but to ask, “’What are you interested in doing,’ and we get the bigger project from that conversation,” Chesler adds. CD&C does not sell product; it sells service.
Simone adds, “We developed an automated drip marketing campaign specifically designed for the ‘walk-in’ traffic. Without the design center, we would not have captured those prospects. And we are now seeing a percentage of those prospects convert to leads and clients. I think the design center has contributed to our growth, but I also believe that people have settled into what is now our new world and are ready to improve where they live after having waited for so long.”
The design center is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Staffing duties are handled by CD&C’s nine-member team. In addition to greeting potential clients and showing them around the design center, the space will be used for event marketing.
“Certainly the design center has given us the ability to drive people inside. Now we plan on starting a series of informational events for the public, including Remodeling 101, for example,” Ricciotti explains. “In fact, the space is designed with event-based marketing in mind. One kitchen is fully functional to do demonstration cooking, complete with a camera and TV screen above it. Some events we’ve had specifically have been directed to our clients. We’ve also opened the space to marketing groups and nearby businesses.”
Simone adds, “We’ve hosted a half-dozen or more events already. We’ve had guest chefs do cooking demos for potential clients and team-building exercises for upper-level execs of local corporations. During these events, we try to capture as much information about attendees as they’re willing to give us. Although all of this has not translated into built projects, it has turned into many promising leads.”