Whether made of solid wood or any one of a number of alternatives now offered, shutters are more accessible to homeowners today than in any recent time. But regardless of the product specifications there are qualities all shutters share: They require an investment in time and training by dealers. Measuring and installation are critical to the custom fit and finish of shutters, and often require specialized training. Independent dealers also benefit through close relationships with manufacturers that can provide a high quality product reliably along with the promotional and marketing help necessary to distinguish them in the marketplace.
Draperies & Window Coverings asked leading shutter manufacturers and suppliers to describe today’s shutter market and what decisions dealers must make before determining they are ready to sell this product. Here are their replies:
STRONG NICHE NOT GOING AWAY
Leslie Ann Bedrock
Lafayette Interior Fashions
Shutters and wood finishes are definitely on the rise in the marketplace, as current decorating trends lean more toward a casual, yet upscale, look of elegance. With this current decorating emphasis, wood finishes, especially shutters, have a strong niche that is not going to go away anytime soon. It even can be said that the design world leans more toward the incorporation of shutters because they complement most types of décor with simple lines and beautiful finishes.
When making the decision to sell shutters, dealers must realize the importance of proper measuring and installation. Lafayette Interior Fashions offers an installation training program in which you can learn the tricks of the trade. Dealers should definitely push shutters because it is a solid investment that has a timeless appeal and ease of adaptability, all while appeasing the wallet as well. For consumers who are not financially ready to make the investment of hardwood shutters, faux wood is also available, making the accessibility of the classic look of shutters even more widespread.
Changes in design trends will always occur, but these changes will more than likely continue to adapt to include the beautiful wood finishes of shutters.
Vice President and General Manager
Hunter Douglas Custom Shutter Division
Dealers need to decide if they are ready to invest in the time and training required to learn about successful shutter sales and installation. They need to consider the best shutter products that will help them attract shutter customers, maximize
Shutters are and will continue to be a sound investment for any consumers shopping for window coverings. New materials like NewStyle® hybrid shutters from Hunter Douglas are providing a more affordable alternative to the traditional wood shutter.
Consumers buying shutters are making an investment in their homes. They expect their purchase to be backed by a dependable brand and warranty. That is why it is imperative that dealers select a shutter manufacturer with quality products and an established brand presence and reputation that consumers already know and trust. Advertising and promoting that brand, together with the dealer’s own business integrity, establish and sustain consumer preferences for both the brand and the retailer.
It is difficult to accurately define the total shutter market, as shutters are a very fragmented category with many small manufacturers. What we do know is that shutters continue to be an extremely popular window covering choice for more and more consumers. Shutters have no doubt become a larger part of the total market over the past few years and we expect to see sales continue to grow. Dealers need to recognize this growth and strengthen their partnership with their shutter manufacturer to capitalize on it.
ELIMINATE THE FEAR FACTOR
Glen Oak Lumber & Milling
Before making the decision that they are ready to sell shutters, dealers need to be comfortable with:
1. Measuring: Obta-ining accurate measurements and relaying those measurements to the shutter fabricator, without error, is critical to insuring that the custom-made shutter is a perfect fit. They should use integrated measuring and design tools to eliminate the fear-factor of measuring incorrectly.
2. Design: A dealer should have the capability of illustrating how the shutter will look on the window and how elements like divider rail placement and louver size will impact the view.
3. Pricing: A dealer should be able to price a shutter on site as various design options are being considered.
4. Selections: Dealers should be familiar with and have purchasing access to a full selection of shutter brands made with traditional woods, textured woods, exotic woods and synthetic materials.
High-end consumers have the biggest appetite for custom shutters, and crave variety in materials and finishes. They also have the most buying power. To meet the full range of their needs, use a design/price/quote tool, coupled with an accurate measuring system. Glen Oak and Abstrax, Inc. have joined forces to provide the Glen Oak®/AMI™ Total Solution, which features a laser measuring device and Bluetooth® interface for wireless transfer of window measurements into Glen Oak’s customized AMI software tool.
If you are interested in selling shutters for the first time or growing your shutter business, there are two key issues you need to have a command on. At ShutterSmart, we make sure we provide dealers with the proper solutions for both.
First, who will be the reliable supplier that gives you a unique advantage in your marketplace—a shutter product or service not every distributor and competitor in town carries? Why does it matter? Because there is no surer path to erasing profits than selling a me-too offering. ShutterSmart offers a wide product range including painted woods, premier stains, arches and an award-winning Polyclad Hardwood shutter. A broad product range with a best-seller product that is totally unique. And it is produced in as little as two weeks. What’s more, we don’t establish dealers right on top of one another’s area so that every dealer partner can have a competitive edge in their marketplace.
Second, you need to make sure you take control of your installations. Many dealers outsource inst-allations, but this wipes out the big profit potential in selling shutters and a good part of your service advantage. Installation is easy as long as you have the proper training and a product that’s easy to install. ShutterSmart offers just that. Training and certification for all your installers and a shutter that comes with predrilled screw holes, and with pre-attached magnets ready to go up in the window.
So whether you are starting up or trying to grow your shutter business, make sure to pick a supply partner that not only gives you a unique product with a unique service advantage but also the proper support to get the installation side of the business up and running.
MOST CRITICAL DECISION
The most critical decision a dealer must make is not when or if, but which shutter he or she should start selling today. Window coverings dealers who are new to shutter sales need to partner with a manufacturer that sells products engineered to instill confidence and backed by a comprehensive support program.
Everything about Norman Shutters, from our products to our packaging, is designed to streamline the shutter sales, ordering and installation process. Our good-better-best product lines make it possible to sell shutters to more customers at all price levels. Norman Shutters’ proprietary online ordering system reduces errors and bothersome delays. Product enhancements like Norman Shutters patented Deco™ Frame speed the installation process, even on out-of-square windows.
Norman Shutters promotes dealer success through our national distributor network, field sales managers, in-house account and customer service specialists, and dynamic marketing and sales tools. We work hard to make it easy for dealers to sell our shutters.
Because we feel that training is a critical element to dealer prosperity our national program builds confidence and increases profits. Even dealers who are new to selling shutters benefit from the practical, hands-on format of our training program.
With Norman Shutters as a partner dealers can reduce the shutter learning curve and immediately concentrate on the business of selling more shutters profitably.