J.H Interiors' quick rise to success as a full-service window coverings and interior fashions business can be attributed to several factors. A creative and responsive staff that works as a team, a booming community and a mutually rewarding relationship with area home builders are among them. But above all, Hennig says it's personal service. "All of us here are very personable people. We like people, we like working with people. I feel I've become good friends with many of my clients over the years," she says.
"I try to get to know the home owners," Hennig adds. "I may be working on one window or I may be doing the whole house, but I try to get to know them. I will go to their home and walk through to see what they like. If possible, when I'm working I like to meet the spouse. Whoever is writing the check I'd like him or her to get to know me," Hennig says.
It's also personal service that brings customers back and leads to referrals, which Hennig estimates is 90 percent of her business. "I have found that I have more and more people coming back or sending friends or neighbors to me because they say our prices are good, you get good work and personal service," Hennig says.
Personal attention also can be an effective sales tool if a customer tries to price-shop products. "I tell them, 'You may pay a little more here, but I've also taken the time to help you pick out exactly what you want,'" she says.
Icing on the Cake
When Hennig says J.H. Interiors offers full service, she means from the drawing board to the finished product for any room of the house. In window coverings, "We have everything," she says. In addition to custom draperies, "We have pleated shades, blinds, wood blinds, shutters -- everything." Hennig continues running down the checklist of what's available: "We do accessories, artwork, lamps and some furniture. Custom upholstery goods. Quite a bit of casegoods and a few antiques."
Hennig expanded the product mix as demand rose from customers. "The more we can do for them, the better," she says. Besides, having a full range of products helps Hennig sell more. "If we can get our foot in the door with blinds, then we can usually get them to do draperies, and that may lead to furniture and accessories," she adds. While working on a complete kitchen remodeling project for one client, Hennig naturally asked, "Now what are we going to do with the dining room?"
"'Oh yeah,' she said, 'we're going to have to do that.' It's one of those snowball things," Hennig says.
Adding products also came from Hennig's need to do more. "I got kind of frustrated by doing draperies and blinds and then not being able to finish the product off by making the room look as it should. I feel that accessories are like the icing on the cake. The personality of a room comes with the artwork, the greenery, the lamps and the flower arrangements."
"I'd say 95 percent of our business is residential. We seem to prefer that," Hennig says. Most of the contract work done by J.H. Interiors is small offices for doctors and dentists -- usually previous residential customers who have asked to have their offices remodeled, she explains. Fully half of the business comes from window coverings with the rest divided between wallpaper (25 percent) and furniture and accessories.
J.H. Interiors' 2,500-plus-square-foot showroom is divided into five large rooms. Past the display windows facing the street, which feature vignette settings with tables, accessories, lamps and antique pieces, customers enter the main room showcasing about 800 wallpaper books on one wall and "thousands" of hanging samples for draperies and fabrics on another. There's also a large horseshoe-shaped countertop for workspace. A recently added room is set aside just for hard window treatments and upholstery pieces; another for accessories and furniture. Throughout the rooms framed artwork decorate the walls.
In the back there's a storeroom along with office and work areas for designers Hennig, Linda Lucky, Kathryn Bradford and Bob Milner. Hennig's "right arm" is office manager Susan Bruce who helps customers but is most valuable doing the ordering and checking deliveries. "We're a great team," Hennig says. "My designers have been with me for a long time. We bounce ideas off each other and get to work in areas we like to do best."
J.H. Interiors is located in a Victorian-style shopping center nestled in a residential neighborhood in Colleyville, midway between Dallas and Ft. Worth, TX, and near the airport. "This is a real growth area," Hennig says. The shopping center, which also features two restaurants, provides some walk-in customers.
Besides being a growing community, many Colleyville residents are transient. Hennig explains that large corporations such as American Airlines, GTE, Motorola and Southwestern Bell transfer a lot of employees in and out of the area. If these employees buy an older home, they want to remodel it right away. If they buy a new home, they need everything right away.
About half of Hennig's business comes from new home owners. "One of the things I've tried to do is get to know a lot of realtors in the area, which has been a big part of our business," she says. "They can suggest us to someone just moving into the community who has no idea who to call. We've gotten a lot of customers that way," she says. Along the same lines, Hennig has maintain business relationships with the area's home builders, at one time working with as many as 10. Hennig has found that most of the builders' customers are relieved to learn their builder works with a designer who can help with decorating their home.
For many of Hennig's clients, one spouse may work in Dallas, the other in Ft. Worth. But more and more, she notices her customers are working professionals who either don't have the time or the desire to shop around for interior fashions products. They've come to rely on J.H. Interiors to bring them the right products.
With draperies being one of the area's hottest products these days Hennig works with two, sometimes three, workrooms depending on the volume of business. "With four of us doing a lot of draperies, we like to have several workrooms," she says. She adds that shutters have tripled in the past year or so, even though they often are considered high-price items.
"This is a very traditional area," Hennig says, "and the majority of things we do is traditional." The exception seems to be with colors. "The colors have been really fun lately because they vary," she says. "We're doing tone-on-tone neutrals -- or what we're calling earthtones -- with some black and jewel tone accents: green, burgundy and navy. We've gotten really popular with moss greens and golds with some purple mixed with them. We've been through the blue and mauve years when everything we did seemed to be the same. Now it's fun, and I tell my clients there really are no rules to what we can do." Hennig adds that faux wall painting that gives a room an Old World look also is very popular.
It is this type of full service that makes J.H. Interiors stand out from other businesses that may compete for Hennig's customers. "They vary from storefront studios to shops that just sell wallpaper and some draperies and blinds to design firms like us -- although there are not a whole lot like us that have the full line of products and the accessories, too," Hennig says.
Dallas/Ft. Worth also is home to several of the large, warehouse box stores, but Hennig is not that concerned about them. "Customers come to me for my service and creativity," she says. "They're a different clientele from those wanting to do it all themselves," she adds.
Hennig's customers do have one thing in common. "Everybody's price conscious. Even people with money are still price conscious, and so are we," Hennig says. "I'm a very practical person and I know that if I can give them good quality work at a good price, then they're going to buy more from me," she adds.
"One of the very important things to me and my staff is to be fair," Hennig says. "I think our customers are price conscious. I think they want quality work and I think most of all they want good personal service."
Hennig's J.H. Interiors has been one of the community's fastest growing businesses.