If you've been involved in this profitable yet relatively untapped area of our industry, you know it was only a matter of time before the parallel technologies of home entertainment systems, lighting control, personal computing and home and office automation discovered the power that window coverings have over creating and enhancing our interior environments. If you are new to this area, then you're probably more interested in sorting through the sea of information.
There are many questions to ask, and the answers are as varyied and individual as your clients themselves. No article or training program is able to answer all your questions. The key is to find the supplier who can solve them quickly and correctly. After all, you're in the business of selling window coverings, not electrical engineering.
The important thing to realize is that a motorization supplier has a solution not only for your entire line of window coverings but, even more importantly, a control solution to meet the needs of the end-user. Don't be led astray by over-simplistic solutions that ignore the customer's true design requirements.
Understanding Your Customer
With choices ranging from battery-operated to plug-in and hard wired systems, knowing the strengths and limitations of motors and systems can greatly affect your success. Asking yourself if your customers are prepared to change multiple batteries, view power cords or be confined to only a few operating features is only the beginning. Achieving a clean installation may require additional prep work such as creating wall pockets and pre-wiring for ultimate end-user satisfaction.
There is a large segment of the industry looking for a certain price point, window size and limited number of operating units. Those moderately priced systems now are available on the market through large fabricators and distributors. Conversely, there is a strong demand by those willing to pay for motorization to have it operate the widest range of custom window sizes, shapes and quantities with the peace of mind of knowing the systems are going to be quiet and long-lasting without ongoing maintenance. These systems also are available through large fabricators and distributors as well as through highly trained motorization specialists.
Selling the System
Don't sell your customers short. Selling automated shading systems requires more analysis than manual window coverings. Recognize that key questions and answers will come from quality training programs, seminars or a customer service staff that effectively bridge automation with the window covering of choice.
Motorization removes many of the standard manual window coverings obstacles. Two-story atriums, multiple windows, wide expanses, extended drops and curves all are made possible through automation. Additional key selling points to automated window coverings are that they can be combined with switches, remote controls, sun-sensors, timers and automated systems to assist in ambient light control, HVAC costs and interior environment protection. Integrating these systems with lighting systems and building automation further enhance the ambiance of a room, while providing added security.
Informing the end-user that quality automated window coverings are available with myriad controls for a variety of products and scenarios is another important step. But end-users also should be informed that window coverings can be operated individually, in sub-groups and even simultaneously in unlimited quantities.
Selling a quality automated system should include a guarantee for mixing and matching a variety of products, styles and sizes just as we commonly do with custom manual window coverings.
Choosing the Right Supplier
Automated window coverings system manufacturers back their motors and controls with warranties that, in many cases, exceed five years. That's a standard of quality far beyond typical electronic industry standards, but one that tells the custom window coverings industry that this manufacturer is confident that once installed this product will remain maintenance-free for many years to come.
Choose a fabricator or distributor that has been properly trained by a motor and control manufacturer. Look for manufacturers and suppliers that have been involved in automation for several years. Quality motor manufacturers and suppliers practice an ongoing commitment to market and train their dealers and distributors.
Remember, those who choose to embrace automated window coverings have a truly unique and profitable product to set them apart from the rest of the competition.
Darren R. Blank is national marketing and sales manager for BTX Window Automation, Inc., Dallas, TX. He also conducts national automated window coverings training programs, seminars and dealer consulting.