What’s safer, more high-end and just plain cooler than window coverings that operate without cords—or, almost magically, with a touch of a button?
Draperies & Window Coverings polled industry leaders on this quiet one percent asking if interest in motorization is growing and at what point in the sales process is it best presented.
Here are their responses:
DETAILS CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
Marketing & Brand Coordinator
Turnils North America
Sales of window coverings products with motorization have definitely increased in the past two years, especially with so many products being offered with this great option. Customers are looking for convenience, and high-end products such as Kensington Shadings and Kensington Honeycomb are the perfect match with motorization! We also offer motorization with all of our two-inch Kensington Wood, Kensington Alternative Wood and Kensington Faux Wood products.
The point when a salesperson should bring motorization options into the selection/buying process depends on the sale and what the customer is looking for in the purchase. Budget, window size and applications are all important aspects to be taken into consideration when selecting the ideal window treatments. Depending on the room, motorization should be the first topic of discussion. Family rooms, foyers, bathrooms and bedrooms that commonly display hard-to-reach windows are the perfect setting for motorized shades and blinds.
Consumers are a lot more educated than they used to be. Information is available in so many ways that anyone can research a product using online tools prior to going to the store. The main concern is with the quality of the operating system and how easy it will be to maintain in the future. Kensington Ascent Motorized Honeycomb Shades come with a headrail that allows for easy battery replacement. The customer only needs to flip the headrail cover open to change batteries, instead of having to take the entire shade down. Details like this make a difference during the purchasing process for consumers.
Director of Brand Development
Over the past year, Hunter Douglas has seen a large increase in motorized window coverings sales and expects that trend to continue as home automation systems become more and more mainstream. As technology enters the home in a variety of ways, from iPods to water heaters, customers have myriad operational options to choose to manage nearly every facet of their homes, especially when it comes to window fashions.
When salespeople ask their customers what they’re looking for and how they intend to use a certain product they should remember that not all customers may know they need motorization or even what the options are. Questions such as location, style, is it for a new home or a retrofit are also essential to providing the correct product. And, emphasize the benefits of motorization.
Even though window treatments have become more high-tech over the past few years, consumers expect this to correlate to “easier to use.” After all, isn’t that the value of technology, to make our lives better by giving us more time to concentrate on the more important things? The mechanics of how something works matters to those who embrace technology as a way to enhance their daily lives, but the majority of consumers only care that a product works the way they want it to, when they want it to. No matter if you are techno-wizard or you still can’t get the clock on your VCR to stop flashing, don’t wait for the future . . . because it’s already here.
A GROWING ONE PERCENT
Regional Sales Manager
Lafayette Interior Fashions
The percentage of window coverings sales that feature motorization is about one percent, but this figure is quietly increasing. As consumers become more interested in the conveniences of technology, they become more aware of what they can do to automatize everything around them. However, for many, their window treatments are not items that come to mind. With Lafayette Interior Fashions one can motorize aluminum to wood to draperies and everything in between!
At the beginning of the sales call, it is important for a salesperson to present all available options to the consumer. Start with the possibility of motorization, explaining its features and benefits and sell down to “lesser” options from there. It is important to show the product in action! Let consumers play with the remote—raising, lowering and traversing—so they can identify with the product and visualize it in their own homes.
Motorization isn’t just for hard-to-reach windows anymore! It is for anyone in the market for high-tech ease and sophistication!
HELP CUSTOMERS UPFRONT
Bryan L. Nicklas
Director of Marketing
Kirsch Window Fashions
Although in a recent study almost 50 percent of respondents indicated the preference for easy lift [window coverings], sales for motorized blinds and shades are a smaller portion of the business. As more consumer education on these options has been distributed, we have seen a slow but steady increase in this segment. Although some consumers in the past have not been willing to pay the additional up-charge for this option, as awareness increases, including awareness as to the ease of operation especially with large, heavy and hard-to-reach coverings, so does the willingness to purchase.
When should a salesperson bring the operational options of a treatment into the selection/buying process? This is a tough question! The selling of operational options is dependent upon qualifying questions to the client such as “Do you have a hard-to-reach window?” or “Is it difficult for you to raise and lower your window coverings?” Motorization is a particularly ideal solution for skylights, hard-to-reach windows, windows over the bathtub (which can be difficult to raise and lower) and especially for elderly or disabled consumers. Motorization should be qualified and positioned as an easy way to control the window.
The selling of operational options is a wonderful opportunity for the design community and for sales representatives to educate their consumers! Our research indicates that our consumers are looking for new and easier ways to operate and control their window coverings and are looking for knowledge and new products to try. Our research also tells us that almost three-quarters of consumers care first and foremost about the fashion aspect of their window coverings (fabrics, materials, etc.) and unfortunately don’t give much thought to the functionality until the purchase has been made and the covering has been installed. Help your client upfront in the buying process by educating and explaining the benefits of motorization and cordless models before the sale has been completed.
SOLUTIONS FOR EVERYDAY LIVING
Product Marketing Manager
Somfy Systems, Inc.
The percentage of window covering sales today that feature motorization has close to doubled in the past few years.
A salesperson should bring up the control options of a treatment right in the beginning. As the salesperson is identifying those window coverings in the home to motorize, they should look for the following types of applications, which make motorization an easy sale:
• Hard-to-reach window coverings above a bathtub, behind furniture, or above a kitchen sink are now easy to adjust thanks to motorization.
• Explain how motorization allows for convenient glare management when watching television or working on the computer.
• Large or heavy shades require minimal effort to adjust—just press a button.
• Furnishings exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays can now be automatically protected with use of a motorized window covering programmed to a timer to adjust the shades at pre-set times of the day.
• Motorization provides for instant privacy whether preparing for a bath, relaxing in bed or enjoying time at home with the family.
• Programming shades to raise or lower at certain times of the day helps to manage heat gain in summer months and heat loss in winter months—reducing energy bills.
• A timer may be programmed to automatically adjust window coverings at pre-set times of the day. This provides added security by creating a lived-in look even when the homeowner is away on vacation.
Many consumers today do not realize motorization is an option. For those that know about motorization, some fail to recognize it provides solutions for everyday living.
OVERCOMING TRADITIONAL CHALLENGES
Director of Marketing
It’s the little things that make a big difference! While motorization is a small percent of sales, it’s lucrative and that percentage is increasing. Overcoming traditional challenges has driven the increase.
The biggest challenge with motorization has always been cost. Oftentimes, the price of motorizing a shade has been greater than the cost of the shade itself. Another obstacle has been the motorization systems themselves. Past systems have been clunky and noisy. Continued improvements on these issues make motorization an option consumers can consider for all of their windows, and this is key to increasing sales.
With motorization becoming more mainstream, a salesperson needs to consider his or her customer’s operational needs at all phases of the selling cycle and not be afraid to bring it up early on when it would really benefit the customer.
There are many situations where motorization is incredibly useful. Cases where motorization should be brought up as early as possible include houses with small children, where cordless shades are a must. Seniors also appreciate the ease of use. The current new housing market certainly requires more motorization with the popularity of vaulted ceilings, multiple-story living rooms and general increase in difficult-to-reach windows.
Other ideal motorization situations that can be brought up near the middle of the sales process include houses with a large number of windows. Rather than have to individually raise and lower each, motorization allows quick manipulation of multiple shades at a time.
Motorization is a great up-sell; however, most customers don’t know about the mechanics of their window treatments. That’s why you have to let them know what’s available to them.
PROFITABILITY, SATISFACTION, REFERRALS
A salesperson needs to qualify each prospect to establish what is important to that person. That will help determine what the salesperson will discuss, the order in which topics will be introduced, and the amount of time that will be spent on each subject. For example, if a homeowner has all of the latest electronic gadgets, if windows are difficult to access, or if someone living in the home has mobility impairments it would be wise to mention motorization early. This would help build rapport and demonstrate the salesperson’s understanding of the homeowner’s needs. However, if the customer focuses on color, function, price, delivery time, or some other aspect of the transaction, it would be best to address those concerns first and then present the motorization as a convenient and desirable option later.
In any case, it is a good idea to mention motorization again at the close of the sale so that the homeowner has a chance to focus on adding it after all of the other decisions have been made. This is important to the salesperson because today’s new motorization options, like Norman’s™ PerfectTilt™ for shutters, help increase profitability, customer satisfaction and referrals.
Consumers are very inquisitive about their window coverings. When they are introduced to something new they become very engaged and ask lots of questions. This is great for retailers because it provides an opportunity to educate their customers by speaking from a position of knowledge and experience. When showing Norman’s™ PerfectTilt™ motorization option for shutters we have seen a range of positive reactions from wonder to delight! Once consumers see our shutters in action they have to get their hands on the remote and try it for themselves. We think that motorization will continue to invigorate our industry and highlight the many choices and options available in window coverings today.