Showroom Staff Can Be Valuable Partners for Remodelers

For remodelers who want to maximize client satisfaction — and revenue — the local product showroom can be a valuable partner. Many showrooms are staffed by pros who not only know products, but always have a remodeler’s interests in mind.

Showroom staff might also hold certifications from industry organizations such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. NARI allows non-remodeler firms to join as associate members and obtain certifications, such as Nick Kress, CRA, UDCP, who is sales manager for Standards of Excellence Appliance and Decorative Plumbing in Sacramento, Calif., and holds two NARI certifications.

Showroom or Consultant

Forming a strong relationship with local showroom staff can be a strategic move akin to working with a consulting firm. Kress’ firm, for example, focuses on appliances and only a little on plumbing. So, if homeowners want help with plumbing, Kress will evaluate their needs and possibly refer them to a plumbing showroom to ensure them the best possible experience.

“It’s my job to look at the long-term relationships and make sure I’m not overreaching our expertise just to make a sale,” he says. “This is a trait that remodelers should look for in a showroom partner — someone who understands and cares about their homeowner and values the relationship more than the sale.”

In addition to making sure a homeowner’s relationship with their remodeler is good, it’s important to ensure they have a good experience. This involves good communication, which is another trait remodelers should look for in a showroom partner. Kress takes pride in his ability to communicate effectively with his remodelers.

Kress will see homeowners up to six months before they purchase products because he knows how important product specs are to the remodeling process. “I recommend remodelers develop some kind of system with their showroom rep to set up homeowner appointments. If no system exists and homeowners simply drop in, it can prevent them from having the best possible experience. If a remodeler lets me know in advance that homeowners are coming, I can prepare a great experience.”

Kress provides the most unique and beneficial experience possible for both the remodeler and homeowner. “I carry double the concern, but at the same time it gives me two opportunities to do my best. The experience should include timely and correct information for the remodeler. Even if homeowners don’t actually purchase anything for six months or a year down the road, I can account for that by noting that pricing could go up X percent in that time.”

Post-appointment communication is important, too, especially relating to showroom-remodeler relationships. “If I learn that they’re shopping around for other remodelers, I will let my remodeler partner know. I have loyalty to my remodelers.”

Managing the Homeowner

When homeowners change their minds, especially regarding products such as appliances with such large physical ramifications on room layout, Kress consults with the remodeler before official changes are made. “First, I explain to homeowners that a simple change of mind can have big implications on the jobsite, and therefore I’m going to confirm it with the specifier or cabinet shop. I tell them that if the jobsite is not prepared for their change, it could cost thousands of dollars. We need to make sure the change will work and won’t cost them money, or that the homeowner knows exactly what the change will cost,” he says.

“We save time for the specifier because we understand the business from their perspective and how homeowners can affect their plans. When we tell homeowners that we need to clear any changes with the remodeler, it’s not to control the client for control’s sake, but to save the contractor a hassle. My focus is on the specifier and that person’s client.”

Communication is critical to success, and Kress tweaks his communication style to the preferences of the specifier. “The specifier is in control of the project, and he’s the one who sends his client to see me, so that’s the person who needs to control the flow of information. He can make initial contact, or I can. It’s up to him and I do what he wants,” Kress says.

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