So often we hear from the subjects of our cover stories about the importance of having a showroom. If you sell retail, it’s the way to go. Customers need to see, touch, compare and operate a range of fabrics, products or treatments they will be bringing into their homes.
Moving a business into a showroom is not an easy decision, however. It
is one that needs to be made with a great amount of care and research.
In last month’s cover story, Rose Riggins, Inside Outlook Inc., confessed
that it was the gutsiest thing she had ever done. (See D&WC, February
2002, page 22.) She searched long and hard for just the right space in
just the right location. Then, she spent a great deal of time, effort
and money to make her showroom a showplace. “It was an expensive
venture,” Riggins says, “but it was worth it because it demonstrates
all our capabilities.”
There also are tangible, bottom-line benefits to a showroom. Preston Petty,
the owner of Blinds & Designs—and the subject of our January
cover story (D&WC, January 2002, page 26)—says even though most
sales take place in the customer’s home, his company’s dollar
volume jumped 25 percent after opening a showroom. “The showroom
makes a very positive impression on [customers],” he says.
But there is one more, critical factor that runs through these two successful
window coverings businesses as well as this month’s cover story,
Jeff Kaplan’s InnuWindow (page 28): store design. Experts say it
is the store itself that attracts customers and provides an environment
that promotes and initiates purchases. Store layout, lighting, signage,
technology, colors, displays and a host of other factors all contribute
to generating a positive shopping experience. If a customer does not feel
comfortable, relaxed, safe, secure and fulfilled within a retail establishment,
there is little chance that he or she will be buying anything let alone
return to the store for future purchases.
When Kaplan moved his business to its current location, he took the opportunity
to upgrade his product offering and to aim for a higher-end client. His
showroom is designed to be comfortable and cozy: exactly what his customers
are looking for in their homes, he says. Kaplan even tries to appeal to
all five senses offering candies, cookies and scents appropriate to the
Opening a showroom won’t automatically make you a better or more
knowledgeable salesperson. It won’t enhance your customer service
ability or make you a better installer. It provides you with a stage to
show off what you can do. If a potential customer sees that and still
walks in, half the sale is already made.