Suzie Williford and Doug Hermance had the right idea in mind
when they began planning a showroom for the expansive lines of
decorative hardware and plumbing products sold by Westheimer
Plumbing & Hardware, outside of Houston.
The duo didn’t simply lock themselves in a room and limit the
planning process solely to brainstorming sessions, or to ideas
they’d previously tried, or even to consultations with a showroom
Instead, they hit the road visiting other showrooms,
experiencing what they truly liked and didn’t like in a selling
environment, developing their own unique vision, thinking through
It’s an approach that every kitchen and bath design firm should
keep in mind when planning a new, expanded or revamped showroom
It’s certainly an approach that paid off for the people at
The result of the company’s effort is there for Kitchen &
Bath Design News readers to see, in our annual “Guide to Innovative
Showrooms”. It’s a spectacular visual showcase that’s as much a
beautifully lit, finely accessorized gallery of fine art as it is a
space to display products and design ideas.
What it also is, at the same time, is a showroom that marks
Westheimer Plumbing as a special, and memorable, destination in the
minds of prospects and customers. It creates an impression about
the business that’s powerful and positive. It teaches, stimulates
customers’ emotions, inspires their imaginations and sparks their
own sense of creativity.
And, oh yes, of course it also helps sell product. Let’s not
Westheimer’s showroom, and the others that are featured this
month in K&BDN, remind us that there’s both an art and a
science to visual merchandising.
That’s a concept which the finest high-end retailers have
understood, and capitalized on, for years. And it’s a concept
that’s tied closely to great showroom design and management.
The kitchen and bath industry’s best showrooms, it’s clear, all
have at least two important things in common: They set themselves
apart by using visual merchandising to create a whole that’s
greater than the sum of its parts. And, they use those same
concepts to create an environment that not only conveys an
indelible message to visitors, but becomes a place that that
visitors genuinely enjoy being in.
Does your showroom do the same?
And exactly what message does it convey?
Does it show your products, design skills, professionalism and
customer service capabilities in their best possible light? Does it
reflect consumer hot buttons, present cutting-edge design ideas and
product applications, exhibit your attention to detail, create
visual interest, provide a sense of drama?
In other words, does it communicate to visitors that your
business is, indeed, special and capable of great things? And does
it make people want to do business with you?
Those are questions that kitchen and bath professionals should
be asking themselves continually, as part of a healthy process of
constantly evaluating and improving their business.
K&BDN will certainly be paying an increasing amount of
attention to these questions and to the subject of showrooms in
general in the months to come.
Aside from our ongoing Inside Today’s Showroom column, by
leading showroom designer Sarah Reep, CKD, ASID, K&BDN will be
rolling out a new in-depth educational program focusing on the
showroom. The program, to be presented in key metro markets in
2005, will address key showroom trends, and will spotlight ways to
design, accessorize and manage a showroom for maximum profit.
Details will be unveiled shortly.
In the meantime, kitchen/bath professionals should follow the
examples set by Williford and Hermance, and draw both ideas and
inspiration from the fabulous showrooms found throughout the
industry like those we’re privileged to spotlight this month.