In 1985, Hunter Douglas began advertising the merits of its Duette® honeycomb shade product to consumers at a time when the custom window coverings business was still very much trade driven and when window coverings were not top of mind with consumers.
As Hunter Douglas expanded its consumer advertising to include Silhouette®
window shadings and Luminette® Privacy Sheers in the early ’90s,
research suggested that something needed to be done to bridge a
growing gap between what consumers thought their shopping experience
would be based on Hunter Douglas’ upscale image advertising
and the disconnect they experienced in retail.
“We knew then that with disposal incomes growing rapidly and
consumers beginning to use the Internet for research we needed to
work with our fabricators to align with the industry’s most
committed dealers to improve their local advertising, point-of-sale
presentation, product knowledge and selling skills and to provide
them with the program ad tools to effectively communicate, reach
and serve an increasingly sophisticated consumer,” says Jim
Mathews, vice president of corporate marketing.
“Through the Gallery program, initiated in 2000, and the Showcase
Priority DealerSM program we introduced last spring, we have been
able to streamline the communications process and keep a consistent
brand message. We also work hard with the entry level Hunter Douglas
Priority Dealers to elevate the brand.”
In the process, the company also has raised the bar for retailing
in the window coverings industry, redefining a customer’s
experience at retail. “Our goal is to provide today’s
consumer with a thoroughly satisfying shopping experience—from
the time they first inquire about Hunter Douglas window fashions,
through product installation and even after the transaction is complete,”
A lofty goal and one that Hunter Douglas and its fabricator network
is more than qualified to achieve with independent dealers nationwide.
The Gallery program, under the guidance of Jeff Janke, vice president
of Hunter Douglas retail alliance programs, has grown substantially
since 2000 and now numbers 350 dealers.
PUTTING THE CUSTOMER FIRST
Gallery dealers are recommended by their fabricators and go through
a screening process before being accepted into the program. “It’s
not for everyone,” explains Janke. “We want to be sure
the program supports the dealer’s long-term goals and is a
good fit for us.”
The centerpiece of the program is the Gallery display environment;
a dramatic, self-contained in-store selling space that truly puts
the customer’s needs first and creates customer confidence.
Five years in development, it captures the energy and premium positioning
of the entire Hunter Douglas collection with full-size, backlit
and interactive product displays, sample books and inspirational
photography. It also offers a comfortable work space and seating
area where customers can easily view and operate the products and
review sample books and brochures to assist in the selection of
window fashions that will best complement their homes.
In addition, Gallery dealers benefit from the exclusivity of the
Hunter Douglas Gallery logo and its growing consumer recognition.
The flexible configuration of the display environment allows it
to be accommodated in most retail showrooms.
“The display environment totally impresses people and gives
us more credibility,” contends Cory Rallison, owner of Home
Touch Window Coverings, Salt Lake City, UT. “We’ve up-sold
every single person who has come into the Gallery based on what
product they initially said they were interested in. For example,
one customer said she wanted two-inch blinds and ended up buying
Luminette and Vignette® after seeing our display.”
In addition to the display environment, Gallery dealers enjoy a
variety of customized services, promotions and events and exclusive
marketing benefits such as Internet customer management, an interactive
consumer Web site and top placement on the Hunter Douglas Dealer
Customers also benefit from no interest no payment financing and
the 20/20 Gallery Gold Guarantee that allows them to replace their
new window fashions with another Hunter Douglas product of equal
or lesser value in the unlikely event they are not satisfied.
SHOWCASE PRIORITY DEALER
Since its inception in April 2005, the Showcase Priority Dealer
program has grown at a rapid pace and there are slated to be 1,200
dealers by the end of 2006. Dealers commit to showing and selling
all Hunter Douglas window fashions. In return, they have access
to online training and exclusive promotions and free enrollment
in the Window Fashions InstituteSM, a Hunter Douglas certification
program. Consumers also are entitled to no interest no payment financing.
Most important, Showcase Priority dealers share with Gallery dealers
in exclusive rights to show and sell the Alustra™ Collection,
the premium collection based on proven, time-tested products and
distinguished by exclusive fabrics, unique finishes, new dimensions,
innovative systems and distinctive accents. Alustra is supported
by an award-winning island display.
“Even when people don’t buy Alustra because it’s
more than they want to spend, the Alustra display enhances our sales
because the customer buys another high-end Hunter Douglas product
instead,” says Judy Magara, owner of MS Interiors, Inc., Loveland,
A new maple-finished Showcase Display System with backlit modules
and four-color room scene photography is also available to these
THE BOTTOM LINE
“With all of our programs, dealers benefit from great point-of-sale
displays, brand-consistent advertising and ongoing training opportunities,”
continues Janke. “Gallery dealers have experienced overall
growth of more than 20 percent annually since the program’s
inception in 2000. Gallery dealers who take advantage of the exclusive
Gallery programs see an increase in average sales transaction size
of 15 to 30 percent.
Some dealers, of course, experience even greater growth. Debbie
Mauro, president of Blinds By Debbie, Las Vegas, NV, has achieved
a 40 percent increase in average sales orders per month since she
was installed as a Gallery dealer in May 2005.
“With the tools and support we provide Gallery dealers, they
can significantly increase sales among existing customers while
attracting new customers to their stores as a result of their providing
unrivaled and high-end customer assistance service throughout the
entire sales process,” advises Janke.
No percentages on growth are available as yet for the Showcase Priority
program, but Janke is very optimistic.
“Our retail alliance programs are a blueprint for success
and the greater the commitment on the part of a dealer to one of
them, the greater the benefits he or she reaps,” concludes
“The bottom line? We want dealers to succeed with their customers,
so we provide the tools, training, marketing and sales support to
professionally manage the most critical component of the selling
process: the customer experience.”