Let's take a look at a customer who will be using the services of an interior decorator for the first time. They certainly have had draperies or curtains on their windows and bedspreads or covers on their beds before. But this might be the first time they have the opportunity to have exactly what they want. They may know the style and the feeling they want you to achieve but need you to know what fabric and treatment will create the effect. "Easier said than done," you say. Maybe, but there are many things you can do to prepare for new business.
Evaluate Your Business
Now is an opportune time to evaluate and makes changes in your selling environment. Update and organize your sample presentation. It may only need a face lift, but if it needs a complete makeover, do it! The timing could not be more right to invest in your business. If it is time to move your location, you should do it cautiously but by all means do it!
An important element you should consider is finding vendors that will assist and support your effort to improve your business. Remember, when you are making money, so are they. Initiate a relationship with your suppliers that will develop into a partnership.
The vendors you choose should be willing to speak with you personally in order to have a clear image of what support you need. Find vendors who will offer you free samples whenever possible and some financial assistance when purchasing fabric for displays. If you make appropriate requests, and not demands, you will be able to find suppliers willing to work with you to gain optimum results for you both.
Keep Up to Date
It is important to keep current with industry trends. Many small design firms and larger retail operations are organizing their display areas by style and color. Visual displays using many combinations of fabrics and styles can create a clearer image of the finished design.
You may find it is time to go back to school for more extensive training. There are many educational opportunities available for both full- or part-time students. Your local school board may provide adult education classes that are right for you. There are individuals at every level who can offer you education and inspiration that will help set you apart from your competitors.
Consider joining a national design organization or subscribe to an appropriate trade magazine. There are national and regions trade shows and educational seminars. You should be able to explore at least one each year.
If you are one of the many among us who is comfortable sending e-mail or surfing the Internet, by all means do so. Small business owners and design firms have organized support groups through the World Wide Web and discuss their current projects, suppliers, etc. on weekly chat rooms or through e-mail lists. DraperyPro is one of many. You may contact them at http://members.aol.com/garbarini/Drapery-Pro.html. Another group is DesignerPro, which can be contacted through Bonnie Kramer at BMMMK@aol.com. A third is WindowPro. Contact them at http://www.window-pro.com.
These on-line forums are a great way to communicate with other window coverings professionals. Gather as much information as you can and make it work for you. You will find many who will want to share their ideas and experiences.
Spread the Word
Advertising is an important component not to be ignored. This element more than any other is critical to your success. If you are a small company operating from a home studio, you might want to consider a creative advertisement in your local telephone or business directory. If you are there already, then you might make your ad bigger and bolder! If you are serious in your efforts to improve your selling environment and your creative and business skills you must let your customer know.
Infuse your business with fresh ideas that will be exciting for you as well as your customers. If you know your business and love your work, your customers will too. New business is fantastic but repeat and referral work reestablishes your confidence and keeps your motivation high.
Opportunity certainly is knocking. Do you homework, be prepared and make opportunity a welcome visitor!
Susan Scanlon is executive marketing and sales manager for Decrotex Inc., Richmond Hill, NY; (800) 223-1382; e-mail: email@example.com.
Steps to Success
• Evaluate your selling enviornment:
Update, organize sample presentation
Vendors-develop a business partnership
• Keep current:
Take advantage of educational opportunities
Join national design or retail organizations
Subscribe to trade journals
Create new ads
Update, refresh current ads