When the Drapery Connection installer arrives at a customer’s home with new drapery panels, the homeowner knows right away that this is something special.
She might have gotten the idea when she first called the Hinsdale,
IL, window treatment specialist and talked to a knowledgeable professional.
Or, it might have occurred to her while visiting the company’s
Web site and learning about its products and services and reading
the glowing fan mail from past customers.
The idea might have popped up when one of the company’s 10
decorators arrived on time with large samples for the free in-home
visit. And it might have been reinforced by the creative, custom
treatment that was designed to fit her home, her needs and her budget.
But when the installer arrives with the drapery panels, on hangers,
wrapped in protective plastic and covered with a “drapery cape”
of velvet with bullion fringe and the Drapery Connection logo on
it, she can’t help but feel this really is something special.
The company’s mission statement says it all: “Our customers
are the focus of everything we do.” Owner Carl Movrich adds,
“The whole company is about this rich, 65-year family tradition.
It carries over to our exceptional service with the customer.”
“We’ve got the best-trained decorators in the city with
the highest level of professionalism,” Movrich continues. “How
does that translate to the customers? We’ve got the best in-home
service.” Right down to the installers. “They all wear
booties. They’re on time. They lay out a carpet before they
set their tools down. They clean up. There’s no garbage or
any boxes left on the job. Everything is taken away.”
The goal, you see, is to gain customers for life.
WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT
Drapery Connection has been serving the greater Chicago, IL, area
since 1939 when Carl Movrich’s father opened as a painting
contactor. By 1988 the company sold window treatments exclusively
—OK, with a little wall coverings and window film it had picked
up along the way.
The company has two locations, a 2,200-square-foot facility with
a 1,200-square-foot showroom and a 3,500-square-foot warehouse and
office. There are 23 full-time employees, including Movrich, 10
decorators and four full-time installers.
Drapery Connection is primarily an in-home drapery specialist for
residential customers. It has a total annual sales volume “just
under $5 million.” Of that, 56 percent is soft treatments,
23 percent is hard treatments, and 13 percent is its latest product
line addition: shutters. And everything is designed for each and
“Everything is custom,” Movrich emphasizes. “The
only thing we stock is temporary shades; and we don’t even
sell those, we give them away.”
To Movrich’s way of thinking, you can’t separate sales
and service “because without good service, sales won’t
sustain. If you’ve got great sales, you’ve got to have
the service and the backup,” he says. “I think that’s
one of the strengths of our company. We’re marketing oriented.
We’ve got great partners as far as suppliers and workrooms,
so we are more concerned about giving additional time for our decorators
to go out and sell. If we can support them in order-writing, and
help them check their orders, place their orders, do all their scheduling
for them—that’s what our company is about.”
A RISK PAYS OFF
Besides Movrich’s upbringing in the retail business, he has
a degree in interior design from Harrington Institute of Interior
Design and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He also describes
himself as a person of change. “I will accept change,”
he says. “I’ve always adapted myself to where the opportunities
One opportunity arose about a year and a half ago when Movrich added
the Norman Shutters line to his product mix through local fabricator
Image Window Fashions. He knew the product would do well.
“That’s another trend we recognized. We knew that shutters
would be strong. Plus it represents the type of customer we want:
the middle- to higher-end customer,” he explains. Drapery Connection
also hired a full-time shutter installer, although it was a bit
of a risk at the time considering the company was selling only about
50 shutter orders a year.
That has changed. This past year Movrich says the company has done
well over 200 shutter jobs. Shutters represent 13 percent of Drapery
Connection’s total business, yet the average job runs right
about $3,000—slightly more than the average drapery sale. “Shutters
have been very strong for us,” Movrich says.
If you ask, most shutter suppliers will tell you delivery time to
customers is vital. Movrich has found that hasn’t been so critical
for him. “If you’re dealing with middle- to higher-end,
they’re a little different type of customer,” he says.
“People with higher incomes are very service oriented. They
are not too keen on deadlines. They recognize that custom takes
What is critical is advertising. “The unique thing about shutters,”
Movrich says, “is that the people who are doing the volume
are advertising shutters only. It takes a higher percentage of your
advertising budget to advertise in the target media that will return
these customers. People tend to buy shutters from specialists.”
THE POWER OF ADVERTISING
In addition to Drapery Connection’s day-to-day leadership,
Movrich’s role is to lead the company’s marketing efforts
and to build its customer referral programs. To those ends, Movrich
budgets seven percent of sales to advertising—a sizable amount.
With 55 to 60 percent of the business coming from referrals or repeat
customers, Movrich figures to keep growing he needs to generate
300-plus leads a month. “The hardest thing is to generate leads,”
First, he says, you must decide what type of leads to go after.
Then you must look at your competition and know what products are
out there. In doing this, Movrich sees two trends. One is in sales
of hard treatments, and it’s discouraging. “Chances are
total sales are now lower because prices have been driven down,
meaning you are making fewer dollars profit per sale,” he says.
The other trend is in soft treatments and it’s encouraging.
“Fabrics are coming back. That’s a huge trend,” Movrich
says. But a trend in soft treatments has been in high-end ready-mades.
“Do we compete in that arena? No,” he says. “They
are never going to have the selection we have.”
Defining his customers as primarily middle- to higher-end, Movrich
sees two options for reaching them: direct mail and print (newspapers
and magazines) “Both are costly,” he warns. “Whatever
you spent last year you have to spend more this year, and you’ll
probably get less results.”
To overcome this problem, Drapery Connection has partnered with
three other retailers that have similar company profiles: a lighting
store, carpet store and a builder/remodeler—all specialists
in their fields. As a group, these businesses place full-page, four-color
ads, each taking a quarter-page space. “It really gives us
tremendous placement in the newspaper because color usually goes
in forward sections—especially in neighborhood papers—and
we get better readership,” Movrich explains. “The biggest
thing is that our ads are next to businesses that enhance our products—with
other home furnishing ads; we’re not next to the siding ad
or the mattress ad. The amazing thing is that with the group we’ve
put together, we’ve be able to negotiate pricing so that we
pay less for [our individual] quarter-page color ads than if we
took out even a black and white ad.”
This advertising group also produces four- and eight-page flyers
together. “That has really helped financially. We haven’t
saved any more money because what you end up doing, as I’ve
said before, you spend more money to get the same results, but here
in some cases we’re getting almost double the circulation and
exposure for the same price.”
Another important marketing arm for Drapery Connection is its Web
site: www.draperyconnection.com. It has been under development since
1999, and is now up to 45 pages or more.
“Our Web site originates a minimum of three leads a week. Overall
I would say it probably represents about five to seven percent of
our sales. That’s well over $300,000 a year,” Movrich
“It’s not uncommon for someone to call us and say, ‘We
need window treatments, we saw your ads, we visited your Web site
and decided you are the company we want to buy from.’ What
is that worth?” Movrich asks.
To try to determine it’s worth, Movrich tracks his site’s
visitors. “We’ve learned we have 230 unique visitors every
day. They surf a minimum of three pages per session. It’s amazing,
68 percent of the people go on to our URL, the other 32 percent
come from search engines or other Web sites,” he says.
“The Web site is a very powerful thing. You have to put it
on everything that you have: brochures, labels, all your ads. Whatever
you spend you’ll get your money’s worth. You have to have
a Web site.”
Movrich believes so strongly in this that he even has a special
business card printed that reads: “Browse Our New Web Site
for Window Ideas.” The only other printing on the card is the
AN AWESOME THING
But the bottom line is turning leads into customers. Drapery Connection’s
way of doing that is through professionalism and service. The company’s
target customer—the middle- to high-end bracket—wants
better services. “They want more performance guarantees, they
want people to be on time whether it be the installer or the decorator.
They want long-term durability,” Movrich says. His answer is
to offer a higher professionalism shop-at-home service.
“It’s the training,” he says. When a new decorator
comes on board, that person likely will work first as an assistant
to a current decorator. “The showroom is a great training place,”
Movrich says. But all of Drapery Connection’s decorators are
on 100 percent commission, so to get more income, they need more
“We’ve aligned ourselves with Exciting Windows! because
they offer the training,” Movrich says. “We actually have
a sales management company that we send our people to also. This
is not product knowledge. This is on sales, closing, budgeting,
etc. That is key.”
That the training is working is evident. It has helped keep good
decorators (the decorator who has been with the company the longest
has been there for 17 years), and it has meant they can earn a good
living. Movrich estimates that his top decorator will hit a million
dollars in sales this year.
But let’s not stop there. In order for this system to work,
it’s the customer who must be happy. In an attempt to get customer
satisfaction feedback from clients, Movrich leaves survey/response
cards at each job. “It’s absolutely amazing,” he
says. “A fourth of the cards specifically compliment the installer
by name. Another fourth is the decorator by name. That’s not
just patting ourselves on our backs. The response is there.”
But the goal, you’ll remember, is to make those happy clients
customers for life. That’s done through professionalism, quality
products, customer service and by looking ahead. “We’re
not involved in a transactional sale. That’s a price-only thing,”
Movrich explains. “Our whole thing is relationship selling.
That’s because if I sell you something now, you have the potential
of giving me $20,000 or $30,000 worth of business in your lifetime.”
Movrich believes you keep a customer coming back by making the customer
No. 1, and that attitude must run throughout the company. “That’s
not just words. It’s how that is portrayed in your advertising,
service and everything else. It’s how you take care of the
customer,” he says. “It’s the people. It’s the
tradition we have. It’s not only the decorators and their expertise,
but we have a great support staff all the way through the installation.”
Movrich wants Drapery Connection to be the customer’s first
choice for outstanding window coverings. To do that he plans to
focus on referral business, and he sees custom soft treatments and
shutters as being a strong part of the future.
“When I grew up in the business, a window shade was a window
shade, it was not a window treatment. People thought that if they
put up a new blind that was their window treatment. In reality,
it really isn’t,” Movrich says. “People are finally
getting the message, if they add fabric to that window covering,
now it is a window treatment. That’s where the trend is. We’ve
always sold draperies, but getting that person who is only using
hard treatments, that’s where the growth is at.”
Of course, just adding a width of fabric isn’t the answer either,
especially when there’s so much more you can do with decorative
hardware and custom design. “When you’re dealing with
the middle- and high-end, these are people who want something a
little bit unique and are willing to have custom,” he says.
There is one thing that’s troubling and frustrating Movrich:
He sees the great job some hard window treatment manufacturers are
doing to promote their products through good advertising, but doesn’t
see fabric companies promoting custom draperies or the soft end
of the business in the same way. “That’s always been a
mystery to me,” he says. “There’s so much growth,
if they stepped up to the plate to really get that message across,
that would be an awesome thing.”