Designing a terrific kitchen and bath showroom is neither a mystery nor magic. First, you’ll need to carefully consider how your company is perceived by the public before deciding if taking action is warranted. Remember, you’ll need to budget for the remodeling investment in addition to following your operating budget.
If your showroom displays were largely purchased and installed in the ’90s, then they’re out of date. Yes, we have many showrooms across North America that need attention or are just now getting the updates they have needed for some time. If sample colorations cannot be viewed accurately in the current lighting – that is less than acceptable.
Homeowners’ priorities have changed and have affected the way they shop. They used to come into the showroom to view a full room vignette to find their look and color. I remember homeowners literally saying, “I’ll take that one” – meaning the overall look, from door style, to finish to hardware, counters, backsplash and cabinetry. Or, they would bring in a magazine showing a kitchen they wanted to replicate in their home.
Times are different now because of the influence of the internet which can be accessed by smartphones, tablets and computers 24 hours a day. Your homeowners now walk in with a collection of visuals to show you what they want their kitchen or bath to look like after remodeling. If you keep your ’90s showroom as is, with too many walls dividing up the space like a maze, your homeowner will have difficulty stepping back and taking in the displays. As a result, they’ll have difficulty comparing their visuals in-hand to your displays.
Coming up with a plan to update your showroom design will involve looking at the bigger picture holistically and then working on the details. Several important components need to be considered to make your showroom an inviting and collaborative space that encourages homeowners to make sound decisions – leading to sales.
What are your customers seeing before they enter your showroom and before coming to your parking lot? Can they see in the windows? Is there dramatic night lighting? Does your web page reflect what’s actually inside your showroom?
If you’re too close to “your baby,” ask a friend or respected colleague to look at your showroom and social media, independently and honestly as a total package through the eyes of a customer. Have them report back their impressions. It may be difficult to hear, but be open and absorb this information. However, now is not the time to run out and just do what people say. It will take thoughtful planning to transform this multi-faceted project.
Before you meet a potential client, they’ve already seen you. They may have done research online and compared your showroom to other sources and showrooms nearby and in the area. Today, just like you, they can use Google, Houzz and Facebook, among other social media resources – all from their portable devices. You need a social media plan included as a component of your showroom plan.
Just like a room is a combination of products that work together to create a unified design, all of your social media needs to work together in unison. Photographs of your projects and products can be used in all of these places. Test how these resources look on every size screen from phone, to tablet, to computer – because one size doesn’t fit all. The good news is that social media platforms are free or much less expensive than ads we used to run in phone books or newspapers. You’ll also want to have the following:
- A good website. Tell your story and invite potential homeowners to come in to see and touch for themselves. Show current and complete products to ensure a productive search for those who do not know you and what you offer. Let them make a reservation or ask them for contact information. Even from your website you are relating to the mobile style of shopping that millennials, especially, have embraced.
- An online Houzz page. Interested homeowners view interior design related sites and save their favorite pictures while they’re deciding on the look and style they want for their homes. Post information about yourself and post pictures of your work. Your digital portfolio will be available for them to see when they are ready. Set a goal of getting one review per month.
- Signage and advertising. Public communication is more than social media. Is it clear what you do and how to find you? Your name and tag line should be specific, including “kitchen and bath,” if that is what you offer, because some showroom names are not clear.
Your brand needs to be consistent across all platforms and your story should be the same, no matter where potential clients look.
- Your showroom – with current available-to-purchase products that are also featured on your website
- Your Facebook page
- Local magazines
- Every other way you interact with the public – signage, ads, business cards, etc.
EXPERIENCING YOUR BRAND
Determine the kind of experience you want your customers to have. People have five senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste. And the more senses you address, the more memorable and exciting your customers’ experiences will be. Don’t forget to have a maintenance plan to keep the entire showroom clean and well-kept – including the restrooms. This speaks volumes to the homeowner about your attention to detail.
- Physical Experience. Delight your customers’ eyes with some curated designs along with current samples and, if possible, working fixtures or cabinet features. There’s no need to show every sample you have, especially if samples are dropped off and not part of your plan. Freshen and refresh your showroom and its displays often. Cut the clutter of too many loose samples. Searching through loose piles of samples will interrupt your engagement with customers while discussing their project. Work out a system to stay connected and keep the dialogue flowing.
- Personalized Experience. Many showrooms have a “Welcome Board” or use a TV monitor that customers see when they enter or peer into the window. Consider another welcoming gesture by giving them a company-branded sample bag. It’s a nice and purposeful gift for taking samples home, and will remind them and those they show the samples to of you. Print out reviews of your company and products to give them instead of hoping they will find those reviews on their own. Develop ways to own your brand more than you do today.
- Pain-Free Experience. Not all meetings need to be in person. Consider using technology as a way to connect. Some customers use FaceTime or Skype to have a video meeting when schedules are tight and driving for a meeting is inconvenient or when both parties cannot be together in the showroom. For example, I observed a meeting held in a Michigan showroom when the partner attended but was in Chicago. DocuSign is an app that can be used to receive an electronic signature – again, when not meeting in person. Are you using any of these tools to make buying a design and its products more convenient for your customer?
- Professional Experience. Think of the best ways to show and tell the quality of your work and past projects. Presentations with photos and customer comments could save time and impress potential clients when shown from your laptop or iPad. Include them in your website and on your “brag wall.” Include your history, letting them know you stand behind your work without saying it. Show it. Incorporate renderings as a “before and after” to show that what you promised was delivered.
Do your customers see what you think is important when they walk in the showroom, pull in the parking lot or drive by? Does this reflect the image you’re trying to portray? Do you have a master plan? If not, read about how to make one in my upcoming column.
And don’t get overwhelmed and do nothing! Our industry is in a constant state of change. If you speak the same message across all branding and networks, your task will be simplified.
Be consistent. The best plans have change and growth factored into them. And when your customers see that your showroom is a fresh, well-designed space to collaborate in, a place where they can realize their dream kitchens or baths with your professional staff, your business will flourish. ▪