Jeff Burton, owner of The Bath + Beyond, a luxury bath showroom in San Francisco, has been successfully operating since 1986. Burton’s feeling is that showrooms are still vying for every dollar, and many showrooms still make the mistake of trying to sell everything to everyone. His recipe for success involves selling fewer, more carefully targeted items, and he focuses on unique items and brands that are not seen elsewhere.
Another way Burton chooses to differentiate his business is to partner with manufacturers and brands that he knows he can work with closely. He prefers to work with manufacturers that are not opening dealerships on every corner, further enhancing his reputation for providing unique or hard-to-find products.
What does it mean for a showroom to work closely with a brand? The Bath + Beyond has worked with a number of manufacturers on private label products, designed and produced specifically for the showroom, ensuring differentiation and exclusivity.
Showrooms need to brand themselves as much as manufacturers do, according to Burton. And one way to do this is with unique offerings.
Burton also points out: “[Manufacturers] need to consult with their showrooms more often. They need to talk to their dealers – bring us in and talk to us before products are designed because we are on the front lines, and we have a very good sense of what the customers really want.”
Collaboration has many upsides, as long as everyone subscribes to the basics: choosing great partners, managing expectations and communicating from start to finish.
Jocelyn Hutt is a senior account manager at DRS and Associates, a luxury brand marketing and public relations firm. Prior to joining DRS, she was the editor-in-chief of HomePortfolio, a home design Web site focused on luxury home design products. Hutt has been involved in the home design industry for 20 years.
DPH Perspectives is published regularly in Kitchen & Bath Design News under an exclusive strategic alliance with the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association.