Retail, workroom and design mistakes to avoid in the year ahead.
Making New Yearís resolutions
is traditional, but itís often so
difficult to form and maintain
the good habits we all promise
to follow. Perhaps it will be easier to avoid making mistakes instead.
Contributing writers Steven Bursten, Mary Ann Plumlee and Karla Nielson each give us their Top 5 things not to do in 2009 in retail sales, workroom and installation, and design.
DONíT STAY IDLE
by Steven Bursten
1. Do not present product samples until you have a budget. Rich or poor, you never know what your customer will spend until you get a budget range and her agreement to buy if you find a beautiful solution within her budget.
2. Do not wait for your phone to ringógo after customers when they donít come to you. Start with phone calls to past customers. Next, distribute flyers and knock on doors to meet folks in your best neighborhoods. Join networking groups. Get yard signs in every sold job. There is much you can do. Do it!
3. Do not buy more samples. You may be tired of the ones you have, but your customer hasnít seen them yet. You wonít get more appointments by buying samples. You wonít close more sales by buying samples.
4. Do not buy from so many suppliers. Focus your efforts on one or two only. They will value you and your life will be easier with fewer discontinued samples to update, and an easier paperwork system internally. There are lots of reasons to focus, and not one good one to spread yourself thin.
5. Do not sell cheap. Remember, you will be tempted to cut your prices. Instead, learn, train, enhance your skills. Then hold your prices. With fewer customers, the ones who are left really want the products and have the money to pay. But, you must have knowledge to change their base of thinking away from products and prices on to concepts and ideas.
DONíT BE HASTY
by Mary Ann Plumlee
1. Donít work in the dark. After falling off a six-foot landing I resolve never to grope around in a customerís pitch-black theater room looking for the light switch again.
2. Donít skip important steps. I resolve to never take on a new wholesale account without doing a credit check first.
3. Donít forget to get it in writing. I resolve to never take verbal work order changes over the phone.
4. Donít skimp. I resolve to never buy old used equipment when I can buy new equipment that would last a lifetime.
5. Donít lose focus. I resolve to keep better track of installs. I hate looking up and seeing my installer standing there and nobody knows what he is supposed to be picking up.
DONíT OVERDO IT
by Karla J. Nielson
1. Never visit with a client when taking measurements. Send them out of the room or set them on another task. Be alone when writing down the critical measurements. A wrong measurement is a disaster in custom design.
2. Avoid top treatments that are too deep. Good proportion and scale are critical to good design. Study the size of top treatments that you feel are beautifully scaled, then use these as a standard of excellence. The exception to this rule is if the style is based on American Empire and Victorian styling, when deep proportions were appropriate. Even in very tall rooms, over-scaled top treatments are imposing and awkward.
3. Donít choose the wrong fabric. Select fabric weight appropriate for the application. Thin, sheer, semi-sheer fabrics are right for limp, softly draped applications not those that require body. Medium-weight fabrics and those with stiffness or body will not be satisfactory for softer appearing applications. The wrong fabric will never accomplish the right look.
4. Never choose a smaller, accent color found in a fabric when selecting major colors for large applications. Rather, use the prominent fabric color for areas such as carpeting, sofas or bedspreads. Color schemes should make sense and be easily comprehended by everyone, even those without a discriminating eye.
5. Donít over design. Good design will stand the test of time. An application that is overly creative often comes off as silly, incidental or arbitraryóor, as todayís youth puts it, random. Simple lines, tailored features, classic looks will be lovely for many more years than treatments that are over-furnished, over-furbelowed and over-decorated.