Product knowledge can be the difference between making or losing a sale. It also can be the difference between making a sale and making a big sale. Retailers owe it to their own bottom lines to know the advantages and disadvantages of every window covering product they offer as well as the upgradable features, proper applications and even a few strategies when it comes to selling, ordering and installing them.
To that end, Hunter Douglas Window Fashions, Upper Saddle River, NJ, produces Discover, a Hunter Douglas Product Workshop, which travels across the country presenting just that kind of information to retailers and installers. The Discover workshops are hosted by Hunter Douglas fabricators and presented by Christine Wolpert, Hunter Douglas manager of training; Dan Debuhr, training coordinator for the Hunter Douglas Customer Education and Development Group; and Scott Swift, a speaker and trainer who operates Swift Training out of Petaluma, CA.
In late April, Beauti Vue Products, Bristol, WI, a custom manufacturer of a complete line of window treatments, was host for a Discover workshop in Northbrook, IL. More than 70 retailers from the surrounding area attended the program.
The workshop covered features of the entire line of Hunter Douglas products from honeycomb shades and horizontal and vertical blinds to its exclusive products including SofTrak[TM], Silhouette®, Vignette® and Luminette Privacy Sheers®. Information on each product covered measuring tips for both inside and outside mounts, styles or finishes of the fabric or materials available, exterior appearance, care and cleaning suggestions (including wrinkle removal for fabric products) and mounting brackets.
Those attending the workshop were given labeled bracket samples, which they linked into a "necklace" as each was discussed. The bracket necklace is intended to be used as an aid when ordering product.
Attendees also heard sneak previews of new features for existing products (Silhouette with the PowerRise[TM] motorization option, for example) and new products due out this fall such as Beyond Woods-blind slats and valances produced with a new finishing process that seals the wood so it will not warp.
The Discover workshop is not just an informational seminar. For each product, time was allotted for some hands-on activities. Tabletop window frames were available so attendees could try their hand at installing brackets and headrails and working the treatments. Attendees worked in groups with representatives from Beauti Vue as guides.
A give-and-take session on trouble shooting specific products also was included. Attendees got to question the product experts on installation techniques and relay actual, from-the-field experiences with problems and solutions. Several pages of trouble shooting tips were included in the binders attendees received at the presentation (i.e., if split draw Luminette panels do not meet in the center, try rounding the lead vanes on both panels into a tubular shape).
Retail selling strategies are an integral part of the workshop. Presenters involved attendees in role-playing scenes to illustrate methods of leading customers into the buying decision then asking for the sale. A key concept was not to approach customers asking "Am I going to sell something to this customer?" but "What am I going to sell this customer?"