Since having been in the window coverings industry for the last 21 years, both as a wholesale and retail workroom, I have sold several million dollars of products to customers. I have always found it interesting to discover what makes customers want to buy. One of the biggest incentives to buy for customers is something I like to call the WOW Factor. If you can make the customer say “WOW,” you’re on your way to closing the sale.
From my experience when it comes to the WOW Factor, workrooms have the edge . . . and here’s why.
Over the many years that I have been interacting with customers, I find the absolute No. 1 most often asked question to be this: “Who is going to make them?” Not, “Why should I buy from you?” Or, “What’s this going to cost me?” But this question: “Who is going to make my window coverings?”
My answer is always, “I am,” or “My employees will.” This is often followed by, “Wow, you can do that?” Clients seem to like to know where their draperies will be “born.” Who has the skills? Where do they come from? Can I come visit them as they are being made? I’ve scratched my head over this one many times. I don’t really know why they want to know, but they do. And they are so impressed with the people who can actually turn a roll of fabric into something of value and beauty. Maybe it’s the I-want-someone-who-is-an-expert factor at work.
THE WOW TOUR
Knowing that in marketing I am always looking for the WOW Factor, I have learned to elicit it in other ways as well. For example, when I measure a window, no timid rolling out of the tape, no asking the customer to please hold the other end. No, I whip that tape out like I’ve been doing it for 21 years, which I have. Countless times, I have heard a little voice behind me say, “Wow! She looks like she has done that before.”
And if a construction site has scaffolding set up, it’s going to be me finding a reason to climb those scaffolds. Little voices at the bottom of the scaffolds probably have no idea that they float upward. I’ve heard more than one husband tell his wife, “Wow. We’re using her.” Then it is usually followed by, “Yes, that other decorator was going to send somebody else out to climb that scaffold.”
We extend the WOW Factor to our showroom. We have thousands of samples. Well, over 3,000 at last count. Samples are lined up in neat rows from ceiling to floor on every wall. Countless rows of trims are standing like little soldiers on shelf after shelf. When a new customer walks in, we look for the jaw dropping “WOW! How on earth am I going to look through all these samples?” The answer is always, “We’re here so you won’t have to.” Then we take them on the tour. Every customer gets the tour. The showroom is just a taste. The real dessert is found on the tour.
First, they go through the bedding department. There they see the quilter, the employees with the work in progress, and the shelves of finished products waiting to leave. “WOW, you make bedspreads, I didn’t know that,” they say. Then they go to the fancy work building. They see people sewing and cutting and stapling. They see beautiful rolls of fabrics and trims paired together. They can see albums of finished work, machinery and supplies and, best of all, finished work on the racks waiting to leave.
My employees have developed a group of followers. We have customers who pop in every few weeks and say, “I just want to see what you’re making today. Is it OK if I stop here and get happy every now and then by looking at what you’re building? WOW, thanks.” Sometimes they bring their friends, their friends’ friends, and their relatives; and wow, we sure like it when that happens!
The next stop on the tour is the cutting room from which everything radiates. Rolls of fabric are stacked waist high, some of it ready to be processed and shipped . . . some of it going to restaurants in far away places. “You mean you make drapes for my favorite restaurant chain? WOW!”
Next we move into the cavernous building where we make panels. Everything seems large in the panel building. The ceilings are high, the building is long, the table is huge and the pressing area is stacked high with finished products almost ready to go. “WOW, I had no idea your operation was this big,” we often hear.
And last but certainly not least, we go to the woodshop. There my carpenter proves over and over that she (Yes, I said she) is a master of wood—a poet with a nailer, a surgeon with a saw. As her collection of projects shows, she can build shelves, tables, ottomans and shaped cornices. If it can be made of wood, she can build it. I find myself saying “Wow” every time I go out there.
WOW ALL OVER THE PLACE
It’s not that my workroom is special, the WOW Factor happens in all workrooms. It’s the craft, the building of something from nothing that fascinates, even mesmerizes, clients. Everyone in this business has something special. Designers have style that is so wonderful. Installers have skills that we couldn’t possibly do without. Mills make the beautiful fabrics we work with. Distributors put together a line that makes us want to create. Vendors of all shapes and sizes do their parts in bringing innovation, tools and creativity to the market. There’s WOW all over the place in our industry.
So find your WOW, maximize it, and use it for everything it’s worth.
But I have to tell you, owning a workroom and watching my employees impress me every day, makes me realize it’s time that workrooms realize just how much WOW they bring to the table.