We learned they have five common traits, or “drivers of success” as we have come to call them: They have an outstanding Hunter Douglas point-of-sale display; they run upscale local advertising; they attend training sponsored by Hunter Douglas and their fabricators; they participate in Hunter Douglas promotions and they sell a healthy mix of Hunter Douglas products.
The 2004 Business Planner, which many of our dealers have said was very successful, was built around these drivers of success with action steps, tools and programs to help dealers build their businesses for the future.
The point-of-sale environment can make the ultimate difference between a sale and no sale. No matter how big or small the location, it needs to excite customers, ignite their imaginations and project a sense of style that creates an effective and profitable window coverings environment.
Hunter Douglas offers two distinct in-store merchandising programs: Opportunities in Space2 and the exclusive Window Fashions Gallery®. Opportunities in Space2 includes the Store Planning Guide and Workbook, which provides many of the solutions available—from information on display modules, decorative headers and indoor and outdoor signage to tips on lighting and various floor plan ideas. The workbook comes in CD form as well, and dealers may also create floor plans on hddesign online.com. Hunter Douglas has also just introduced an easy-to-assemble, adaptable and portable Home Show Display that fits from six to 10 products and is ideal for a 10- by 10-foot booth at a home show or anywhere where a dealer might want to take the Hunter Douglas story on the road.
For the shop-at-home dealer or designer, Hunter Douglas provides compelling brochures and other literature, downloadable images, an attractive multi-pocket hand-sample bag and more to help customers visualize window coverings solutions.
A premium and exclusive dealer alliance program, the Window Fashions Gallery offers an elaborate and sophisticated display system designed to provide the most satisfying window covering shopping experience possible for targeted consumers. A minimum of 425 square feet is required to create the proper environment to showcase the entire Hunter Douglas product line in an upscale and fashion-forward manner. Other marketing support elements of the Window Fashions Gallery program for qualified dealers include education and training programs, advertising and public relations support and technology and lead management.
Getting the word out about you and your business is imperative to success in today’s competitive marketplace—but don’t just advertise discounts, emphasize the features and benefits of the products you sell. And, there are a few things to consider before embarking on an advertising plan: Get to know your local market—examine the average age, gender, income and lifestyle of your shoppers. Once you’ve decided the focus of your ads, consider your budget and needs. Do you want to advertise in newspapers, regional magazines or local cable TV or some combination of the three?
What’s more, take advantage of a good thing. Hunter Douglas is the leading advertiser in the home furnishings industry—Hunter Douglas dealers should look at our ads to help them determine their own and coordinate their advertising schedules with the Hunter Douglas national ad plan for maximum consumer impact. Hunter Douglas also offers a host of quick and easy ways to create colorful, engaging ads. In addition, the company often supports dealer efforts with Ad Certificates that reimburse some dealer expenses.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Education is vital to success. Hunter Douglas is recognized as the industry leader in dealer education and training programs that reap quantifiable results. In 2003 more than 40,000 dealers and installers participated in a wide variety of training formats. For those who took part in the SolutionsSM regional trade fair, average sales increased an average of 25 percent. Dealers in the same markets who did not participate saw an average sales decrease of six percent.
Hunter Douglas has a variety of programs—from conferences and workshops to videos and DVDs—that provide product knowledge, measuring and installation expertise and tools to build a dealer’s business, including information on the latest technology and online resources, new sales techniques and how to network to form professional alliances.
PROMOTIONS THAT MATTER
We work hard with Hunter Douglas full-line fabricators every year to provide our dealers with incentives to fuel increased sales and profits. As with the training, our surveys show that dealers who participate in these programs and promotions increase their sales and profits dramatically.
Last year, we began the first in a series of promotions that focus on the consumer and product attributes. We believe the culmination of this is the “Its your home for the holidays!” Holiday Promotion this fall, running from October 15 to December 31, 2004. It offers dealers an opportunity to capture new customer business during the very important pre-holiday selling season. This integrated promotion is supported by national print and TV ads that reinforce the messages in the 2004 Holiday kit for dealers, which includes ads for TV, radio and print. Participating dealers receive special subsidies in the form of an ad certificate and a variety of customizable communication tools. Consumers are given special financial incentives to purchase prior to the Holidays.
A HEALTHY PRODUCT MIX
Varying the product mix a dealer offers and selling upgrades is a sure path to increased profitability. Today, dealers have to compete with the latest high-definition TV, sleek laptop, even the weekend spa; and research has shown that consumers will pay premium prices for better products. In the recent book, Trading Up: The New American Luxury from the Boston Consulting Group, 96 percent of consumers surveyed said they would pay a premium to buy at least one type of product. Custom window coverings can be that product. But customers can’t buy a product unless they know about it and can see it.
Our warranty card data also tells us that some 50 percent of consumers who purchased Hunter Douglas products have been out of the market for approximately five years. That’s a long time. All the new innovations that have been developed in the interim — Alouette® LightLouvers, Luminette® with PowerGlide®, Heritance® hardwood shutters, LiteRise®, UltraGlide®—are options many consumers probably know nothing about. So, when you’re with a customer, don’t start with a product review—he or she might not know that there are products out there that can satisfy their needs; first find out why he or she is interested in purchasing. The most common reasons are fashion, design, privacy, light diffusion and control, privacy, energy savings, UV-protection, or a move or other lifestyle change.
Make sure you use the five “drivers of success” to respond to your customers’ needs, ask questions, listen and choose the products that work best for them, and you will make a loyal customer for life, guaranteed.
Jim Mathews, Vice President of Corporate Marketing for Hunter Douglas. For more information about these resources and more, consult with your full-line Hunter Douglas fabricator or visit www.dealers.hunterdouglas.com.