The business and marketing strategy for One Stop Decorating, Kansas City, KS, is straightforward: Concentrate on what you do best, do it the best you can and dominate your market.
In practice, for owners Steve and Cherie Roellchen and their two sons, that means offering shop-at-home, making smart investments in showrooms, presenting a breadth of custom soft and hard treatments, providing the best customer service, using effective marketing strategies and tools, and tracking the results in order to manage the business.
With four showrooms in Kansas City and annual sales in the multi-millions, One Stop Decorating has proven itself in handling each of these areas, and whatever else is necessary. Says Steve Roellchen, “If we’re leaving a rock unturned, it’s not good.”
FAMILY-OWNED WITH SHOWROOMS WITH FREE SHOP-AT-HOME
“We’re in over 300 homes a month,” Roellchen says about One Stop Decorating’s outside sales. “Shop-at-home is really where it’s at. You really have to go into the home, to really make the bond with the customer, to see their lifestyle, to see what they like, dislike, their colors… and then that’s a great experience to make a friend and bond with the customer and make the sale.”
He adds that you have to get into the right homes, too. “We have not chased the new home market since we opened. We’re not big on going out and doing whole homes of blinds and shades and doing them at low margin. Our niche has always been Mrs. Smith, who has a nice home, who wants nice things. And now Mrs. Smith is staying in her home and still wanting nice things. She’s being a little bit more selective, she’s taking a little bit more time in the buying decision, but she still wants nice things.”
Strategically placed about 30 miles apart around Kansas City, One Stop Decorating’s four showrooms not only are a key ingredient in the company’s success, they also are a distinct market advantage. “We sell our company as family-owned, with showrooms, with free shop-at-home,” Roellchen says. “[Customers] always have a brick-and-mortar showroom to go to, see beautiful samples, see our work. We have beautiful custom drapery displays in all of our showrooms.
“When we’re able to bring them into the showroom our average sales is always higher because we can show them good, better, best; we can trade them up; we can show them better displays; and invariably our average is always higher—remarkably higher, if we can get them in the showroom.”
Both in drawing traffic and as a destination, the company’s showrooms were sited with a plan. “Our strategy used to be: find the cheapest rent and top rate the showroom. We’ve changed that strategy in the last three years, saying we need to be in the correct area, in the correct development,” Roellchen says. At the end of 2008 the company relocated its Northland store to a new, high-traffic shopping center with four large anchor stores. “We’re right in the entrance,” Roellchen says. “We opened up a smaller store, it’s only 950 square feet, but we’re at the place we need to be. Visibility is incredible. Already, we’ve seen in-store traffic pick up and the number of appointments pick up.
“We opened [the Overland Park store] two years ago,” he continues. “It’s in a very high traffic area in South Overland Park. There are 61,000 cars a day that go through the intersection where our store sits—it’s that busy. It’s a high visibility, high income area.”
A successful showroom needs more than a high-traffic location with attention-getting treatments in the windows. The inside displays must be attractive and showcase the breadth of product assortment available. Roellchen says the showroom experience is the only way customers can touch, feel, see and compare products. “We think the advantage of having the [Hunter Douglas] Gallery in all our stores is a competitive advantage that is unparalleled because we have consistency in our displays, they are very well kept… New products are going in there quarterly, we have promotions, point-of-sale, there is always something going on. We have, by far, the widest selection of window coverings than anyone in the city. We dominate.”
DOMINATE IN WINDOW COVERINGS
With Steve Roellchen are his wife, Cherie; two sons, Brandon and Jason; and daughter-in-law, Chrissy. Each family member runs one of One Stop Decorating’s locations, so no matter where customers go they can speak to an owner.
In all, One Stop Decorating employs 25, including eight outside salespeople, four interior designers, four hard window coverings specialists (who are learning to sell soft treatments), installers and in-store support people.
In addition to window coverings, the showrooms feature decorative accessories, framed art, mirrors and floral arraignments. Two stores include wall coverings with full wallpaper libraries and paint is available at another. “Anything for the interior of the home,” says Roellchen. “It’s a good way to get people back on a weekly basis, or monthly basis. We might do their window coverings and we may not see them again and do another room for six months, but we give them another reason to come back and see us more often.”
But the moneymaker is One Stop Decorating’s full line of hard and soft window treatments. “We’ve really concentrated more on the window coverings part of the business the last two years and really try and dominate that.
“We can do flooring and we do countertops, we do all these things, but our focus is, Let’s do window coverings, let’s do it well and let’s make as much money as we can on it.”
For Roellchen that has always meant custom and, more recently, soft treatments. “The whole custom area—custom bedding, custom drapery—is just a huge, huge growth area and there’s a resurgence right now in custom drapery. We need it for average sale, we know we need it for gross margin, we know we need it because that [customer] likely is a more affluent customer and would like to do some other things as well.”
Success in soft treatments has been aided by finding the right vendor. “We’re big on partnerships,” Roellchen explains. “My department store business [background] told me to be more important with one person, with one vendor, than being less important with a lot of them. With custom, we have really partnered up with Kasmir Fabric… We used local workrooms in the past and we weren’t pleased with the quality, we weren’t pleased with the product we were giving the customer, so we knew we needed to change that. If when you go to the customers’ house you’re not confident it’s going to be the most beautiful thing that you’ve ever done and the quality is going to be there, it’s time to move on.”
The same goes for all of One Stop Decorating’s suppliers. “I want to build a relationship [with a vendor],” Roellchen explains. “When you build a relationship with a vendor, if you have a problem you can get results fast, you know exactly who to go to, you’re not just going through a customer service department. It’s a partnership to build a business.”
TRACK IT TO MANAGE IT
“We have been in business 14 years in Kansas City, so we have a very good name. Our repeat and referral business is over 70 percent of our business,” says Roellchen.
To keep customer service sharp, Roellchen has one simple rule: “You have to look at a customer as if they are the only customer you’ll have today. Maybe they will be the only customer you have today. We tell our salespeople in our stores as well as our outside salespeople to look at that customer, talk to that customer, follow up with that customer, do all of the things you need to do as if that’s the only customer you’re going to have today. You’re whole perspective changes when you do that.”
Roellchen has noticed a rise in repair requests, and he’s happy to take care of these customers, too, because he wants them thinking of One Stop Decorating when they do decide to replace those items.
For other customers, One Stop Decorating uses a host of advertising and marketing programs backed by a healthy budget: 3 1/2 percent of annual sales. Roellchen understands that advertising is a cost of doing business and keeping his name out there. Ultimately, it helps bring in new business and serves as a reminder for repeat customers.
The most successful campaign for One Stop Decorating has been an ad in the handful of glossy, up-scale Kansas City area shelter magazines. But there are plenty more programs working: “We do television. We do radio. We direct mail through Val-Pak the entire market. We do our own Internet e-mail blast two or three times a month and we do the house and home section of the Kansas City Star (newspaper) every Sunday,” Rollechen says.
“We track every call, every day, where it came from. I can tell you how many we got from television, radio, how much we got off our Web, what we got from Val-Pak, referral, repeat… we track it every day, every appointment,” he adds.
Jason Roellchen handles the Web site, his father admits. “We allow customers to make appointments over our Web site now—every day we’re getting appointments. We work on pay-per-click, Google, we have hometown Web sites, blogging, all those things that help set your presence in Google when [customers are] looking. We’ve spent more time and energy in trying to understand that whole element than ever before and I credit my two sons for that,” Roellchen says. “Jason tracks all of it: he knows what links are coming through, he knows which keywords are working, he’s constantly changing that, working that… it’s all part of business any more.”
With four showrooms operating, networking and Web-based business programs that can manage customers, accounts and information between sites are a must. “We have to,” Roellchen says. “They are all networked. We share the customer base, we share information. It’s real important now to follow up with the customer through the whole system.”
The analysis these programs can provide has been helpful in making important business decisions. Roellchen explains: “We can look at the end of the month… obviously we know the jobs sold, we know the products sold, we know the outstanding quotes, we know the dollar amounts of those quotes, we know the products that we quoted, we know the jobs that weren’t sold, we know why they weren’t sold… You can sit down at the end of the month and analyze it. We put together strategies last year based on monthly analysis of areas we needed to go after: it could be price, it could be product, it could be a salesperson… it goes back to measuring it so you can manage it.
“You can find categories—particularly with us with all the hard window treatments and soft treatments we sell—that maybe you have some opportunity in. We grew our shutter business 22 percent, understanding that based on what we analyzed in 2007.”
Roellchen does not see any more showrooms being added to One Stop Decorating in the near future, but he is keeping his eyes on and testing new concepts.
One of those is that 950-square-foot store in the Northland shopping center. It is the sole window coverings-only showroom for Roellchen and he’s interested in seeing how well that works, how he will generate more business just in window coverings. The Overland Park showroom is another concept he’s testing. This one is a combination of window coverings and custom furniture. “It’s really more upscale, and we’re updating that to fit a more upscale area of the city,” he says.
Even though some of his stores are running ahead of last year right now (“Which I’m very pleased with,” he says.) Roellchen understands in this economy, “Flat is good.”
“I see that the sharp operators that take care of customers, that understand trends, that understand what’s going on, will be here in a year and will be stronger than they were before. I think that if we have salespeople that want to do it the way they used to do it or had bad habits when business was good, they won’t be around no matter what company they are in because it’s just going to be more difficult. You have to work smarter, not harder.”
“I think we will come back and I think it will come back stronger and the people who get through it—and they will—will be much stronger for it. You have to keep moving, you can’t get stale.”