Winging out of Atlanta, GA, in the glow of an exceptionally successful International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE), I write this message on board a great small airline, Independence Air. I recommend its low fares and terrific service; please favor them with your business and keep them flying.
The 2005 IWCE was a successful event of educational sessions and
supplier presentations. If you were not there, you should have been.
This is your career and chosen profession. You owe it to your customers
and to yourself to upgrade your professional skills and be aware
of new products.
What would you have seen there? Others will report the beautiful
convention center and bountiful product introductions. Instead,
I will tell you a different story—a story about people more
than products. A story about how one event can impact your life,
change your attitude and lift you to a higher level of success than
you dreamed possible.
MEETINGS ARE FOR SOLUTIONS
You face challenges every day in your business. Possibly you need
more appointments, or a decorator to handle the ones you have. Maybe
you’re vexed with customer rework or supplier problems. There
are a dozen different problems in our industry—competition,
installers, customers, decorators, bookkeeping and suppliers. You
may have any of them, maybe even all of them. But, one thing for
sure, they are all in your home city. They are not in Atlanta! However,
the solution may have been there.
The IWCE has always presented seminars on techniques in design,
workroom methods, color trends and styles. These alone often have
been worth the trip. But this year something new was presented:
business solutions centered on advertising, appointments and how
to grow a business.
Two Leadership Success Panels were presented openly to all attendees.
In the interest of full disclosure, our company, Exciting Windows!,
sponsored the events, but the value was inspiration from successful
business owners who openly shared their stories and took questions
from the audience.
PERSONAL BUSINESS UNDER $500,000 SALES
Panelists operating a personal business, generally home-based with
sales under $500,000, told how they got started, began advertising
and expanded sales beyond the limitations of only word-of-mouth
Sarah Youngblood told how she started in window coverings because
of her love of sewing. Then she realized she could serve more customers
if she found others to sew.
Joel Leibowitz shared how burnout was dispelled when he learned
inspiring new business ideas. Then he exploded with new enthusiasm
and earned better profit than ever.
David Leyhue told his story of working with customers in a new way,
more effective than before, and Vicki Buswell told how, as a designer,
she increased sales 50 percent with quality advertising.
MANAGED BUSINESS OVER $500,000 SALES
Questions for business owners managing a sales team were almost
all on advertising and how to recruit, train, compensate and manage
decorators. Three past presidents of the Window Coverings Association
of America (WCAA,) Tom Anheuser, Bruce Heyman and Carl Movrich,
shared how they built their multi-million-dollar businesses and
the critical importance of tracking the numbers: appointments, closing
percentages and average size of sale. These business owners track
these metrics to coach decorators on how to improve performance
and get the most from advertising.
Ada Lloyd echoed their thoughts, and told of her own experiences.
Then Lynette Dudley told how she sells over $15 for every person
in her market area. Yes, $15 per person! What would your sales be
if you did the same?
MEETINGS ARE TO LEARN FROM
The value of industry meetings is not just to learn from expert
instructors, although they have much to teach. The real value is
to discover opportunity by learning from colleagues, other business
owners who achieved more than you thought possible until you hear
This meeting was one of the best for that purpose. For the first
time in our industry business leaders were willing to share their
stories, tell their sales volumes and reveal their secrets of success.
We owe these panelists a strong “thank you” for inspiring
every person who heard their what they had to say.
Do not miss a major industry meeting. It does not matter the cost.
You will always learn enough to receive multiple return on your
investment. Only at industry meetings can you escape the rat race
to reach a higher level to think better in clear air. Only at meetings
do you meet leaders who will inspire you and show the way.
Until Roger Bannister ran the four-minute mile it was considered
impossible. Within months a dozen others had done the same. Be at
the next meeting. Be inspired by a colleague. Then go on to be the
leader in your market area.
When you attend meetings and learn from others you deserve success,
you will achieve it. If you were there, you are already putting
great ideas into work. If you were not there, be there next time
to be the leader I know you want to be.
This article is based on Steven C. Bursten’s actual experience
with sales and financial information working with hundreds of window
coverings businesses. Whether you are a sole manager who aspires
to higher sales, or you manage 50 window fashion decorators in a
multi-million-dollar business, this series will help you manage
sales better and increase your profitability. Bursten is the retired
founder of Decorating Den Interiors and author of a how-to book
on new business start up, “Bootstrap Entrepreneur,”
and is a leading expert in window coverings marketing, sales systems
and sales management through his company, custEmers.com; steveb@custe
mers.com or call (888) 333-8981.