More than 150 members, staff, suppliers and guests of Exciting Windows! came together at the Tremont Plaza Hotel, Baltimore, MD, in January to learn new skills, network, share technology information and gain marketing and sales tools at its Fourth Annual Conference.
Highlights included a keynote presentation by company spokesperson Michael Payne, HGTV designer, who unveiled photos of his newly renovated home and kicked-off a national $10,000 Windows Makeover Sweepstakes. Other events included a trunk show marketing plan, Internet marketing and technology for a new era, supplier/vendor presentations, a window fashion design contest, programs on building dealer brand and embracing change, as well as a Gala Awards Banquet to recognize high performing licensees and franchises.
Now with more than 100 licensees and certified consultants reported in 35 states throughout the United States, Exciting Windows! aims at an upscale segment of customer it says is underserved by the window coverings industry.
Steve Bursten, CEO, and Steve Wishnow, president, explained that their visions for Exciting Windows! is to continue to grow and become the most well-known and respected name worldwide for high-quality custom window coverings products and exceptional at home service.
“With the credibility of national programs and focused targeting to an underserved market, 2007 window coverings sales for Exciting Windows! members increased and many had a record-breaking year,” said Bursten. “ If there is recession, our members decided not to participate.”
“Our marketing strategy sets us apart from competition and results in higher sales to each customer,” he continued. “For example, the national average for most window coverings businesses is under $1,500 per sale. Exciting Windows! members report almost double that at $2,900 per customer. As a result, some 15 percent of Exciting Windows! members at this year’s Conference reported over $1 million in sales for 2007.”
“The difference is education and marketing,” said Bursten. “It is an easier, more comfortable business for our members and they make more money because their gross margin is at least five percent higher,” he said. “Our target customer is either renovating or remodeling their present home and have the money for the finishing touches like stylish window coverings. These are consumers who are spending on themselves because they deserve it and can afford it.”
Technology took center stage at this year’s conference with presentations and classes on Internet database management and marketing, plus search engine optimization and pay- per-click technology.
The introduction of the Window Decorating Trunk Show, conceived by Kathy Cragg, Exciting Windows! vice president, was featured as an important marketing vehicle for members, while a Window Fashion Design Contest gave members the opportunity to showcase their work, win cash prizes and to potentially be published in national magazines.
At the Gala dinner party and awards ceremony, Joe Barnett, The Reflective Designer, Middleton, MA, was named Business Owner of the Year. Mike Linn, Sonic Blinds, Buffalo, NY, took top honors as managed business sales leader, while Elliot Laniado, Window Treats, Red Bank, NJ, was recognized as the sales leader for a personally operated business.
Other speakers at the conference included Len Casey, a national marketing authority for the home furnishings industry; Pam White, executive director of the Interior Design Society; Neil Gordon, Exciting Windows! director of design; Tom Robinson, marketing manager, Lafayette Interior Design; Jackie Van Tobel, author of The Design Directory of Window Treatments; and Brian Miller, president of The Entrepreneur Source.