INSTITUTE AWARDS FIRST DEGREE
This April at the International Window Coverings Expo, Nick Prinz of RodRunners, Woodbridge, VA, was the first Window Fashions Institute dealer to reach the Platinum level. Hunter Douglas President and CEO Marv Hopkins, Director of the Institute Lisa Zenner and myself as Vice President of Corporate Training were on hand to present a plaque and Sweda Rosewood clock to Prinz. Prinz also received a Hunter Douglas Window Fashions degree in the form of a gold seal to place on his business cards and letterhead.
Prinz, who started his own shop-at-home business three years ago after 11 years in the industry, feels the added credibility the Hunter Douglas seal brings to his business is invaluable. "When customers see the Hunter Douglas seal on my business card, they know I have the endorsement of the industry leader and it separates me from the competition," said Prinz. "This is of particular importance to me because it establishes a higher level of product knowledge and technical performance in the field."
UMBRELLA OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
Prinz cannot overestimate all that he learns through continuing education programs. "They're like gold to me," said Prinz. "They open horizons and help me to sell based on product features and benefits, not price. Every time I attend an educational seminar I learn something new and reinforce what I already know. The umbrella of educational programs—all in one day or less—and opportunities for networking they provide have been terrific. In addition, the programs are conducted by knowledgeable people, often with 15 years or more experience in the field, with their own success stories to tell."
KEYS TO SUCCESS
From Insight: A Product and Design Fair, Prinz learns indispensable information about new products, with selling and profit-making tips as well as design trend information. "For example," noted Prinz, "knowing the latest color forecasts and having a chart of them increases my rapport with customers and helps me to give informed opinions."
From the smaller Discover workshop where attendance is limited to 85 dealers, Prinz hones his installation skills, learning about new techniques and tools from different instructors as well as how his fellow dealers have attacked problems and achieved success: "I found the motorization session where I actually handled the different components, such as wiring and motors for the products, particularly interesting," said Prinz.
Prinz's favorite program so far was Palm Beach Custom Shutters—now called ShutterTechSM—which focuses on this recent Hunter Douglas introduction and provides dealers and installers with the necessary certification to sell and install the product: "Shutters was the product I knew least about, and this class taught me how to create the sale as well as how to measure and install, with hands-on participation."
PremieresSM, complete with a display and training materials and conducted by fabricators, is valuable to Prinz because it teaches about new products before they have penetrated the marketplace, giving him a jump on the competition. Said Prinz, "I learn about brand new products as well as changing components and new fabrics and colors, so that I can articulate their benefits to my customers."
PROACTIVE VERSUS REACTIVE
"Hunter Douglas is always proactive, introducing new products and improving old ones, and with their award-winning training programs help me and other dealers stay proactive, instead of reactive."
What can Prinz look forward to? The Window Fashions ShoppeSM, a new program that uses multimedia DVD presentations to teach product basics and usage of the Hunter Douglas Reference & Price Guide, is just one of the new offerings on the horizon.
Ron Spies is Vice President of Corporate Training for Hunter Douglas and has been with the company for 24 years.