Volume 49, Issue 2 - February 2014

Show Tell


What Does Your Showroom Say about You?
by Ellen Rogers

You can learn a lot about a company by the type of showroom they keep. In many cases a potential customer’s first impression of your company lies in what he or she sees when they walk through your shop’s doors. Is it neat, clean and tidy? Are displays new and exciting? Is there something that gives them a little bit of a wow factor? What are you doing to set your showroom apart from the competition?

Five Ways to Wow
If you want your showroom to work for you, it’s going to take a little extra effort. Here’s a quick look at what some companies say is helping them get the most out of theirs.
1. Keep it clean. No one wants to walk in and see a thick sheet of dust draped across a shower door frame or cloudy glass. Take the time to make the displays shine.
2. Out with the old in with the new. The year is 2014 and your features and displays should convey what’s trending in today’s designs. No one wants to see products that are outdated and dull. Think fresh.
3. The wow factor. When a customer walks into your showroom you want them to stop and be amazed with the thought, “Wow! I can do all this?” Consumers may not realize all of the possibilities you can offer. Show them something new, innovative and cutting edge.
4. All the comforts of home. If a customer has to wait, they should be able to feel comfortable. Provide a coffee station, cushy couches or chairs, current magazines or even a television. Keep them happy while they wait.
5. Make it a team effort. Yes, you have a great showroom. No, you didn’t do it alone. You have great supplier partners with which you are working, so use your showroom as a chance to give back to them, too. Work together to create a new display or feature a new product. The more you can help them, the more they can help you in return.

“[Our showroom] exemplifies our quality standards that go into every order and allows us through our overall customer service and interaction with the customer, to express our appreciation for

their business,” says Mike Poss, owner of Shapes Supply in Arlington Heights, Ill., which offers a number of products including a variety of shower enclosures and frameless, heavy glass doors.

Jim Bernstein, owner of Glass Doctor Metro Atlanta, lists a number of qualities he thinks a showroom should feature: visual appeal, a broad product offering, knowledgeable salespeople, displays of the products being used in real situations, cleanliness and stimulating. He says a showroom can open up new opportunities, as customers can look at a product and realize, “I didn’t know you could do that.”

Over the next few pages we’re taking a close look at what makes a unique showroom. As these companies agree, a winning showroom takes more than just an eye-catching display. If you want to grab customers’ attention and keep them, you need to give them something they are not likely to find elsewhere.

Shapes Supply
“We hear consistently how impressed [visitors] are with our showroom environment as well as the time, interest and input we provide on their ideas, designs and layouts,” says Poss. Located in the Chicago suburbs, his company, partners with suppliers such as Coastal Industries for shower doors and C.R. Laurence (CRL) for fixtures. It has a customer base of primarily independent remodelers and builders.

“Suppliers that can develop custom programming help us and our customer base, make it an easy choice [when determining] who gets the real estate in our showroom,” says Poss, adding that having a showroom provides a means for customers, in turn, to help consumers make product decisions.

“Most of our customers don’t want to have [their own] showroom … or want to spend their time in the field,” says Poss. “We play a role in helping them land their remodeling projects by offering up design and showroom services unique to other wholesalers in the area. We work very hard for our contractors to grow their business and that, in turn, will help ours, as well.”

With that in mind, first impressions can make or break potential business opportunities. Poss says there are certain qualities they have found helpful to maintain in their showrooms. These include keeping it up-to-date, clean and offering a unique environment, as well as exuding quality and professionalism.

“From the first step they take in our building, to the treatment of our staff … the ability to pull up and design on a large screen TV all the way down to the Keurig that provides Starbucks coffee or hot chocolate,” Poss says they use these opportunities to cater to their customers’ needs.

As such, this ties right into the importance of keeping the showroom updated.

“Outdated showrooms don’t show that you will cater to the customer nor that you care about showing them the neatest and newest option available,” says Poss. “Even if they don’t buy any of the bells and whistles, they feel as though they have been offered a wide variety of products and services and they feel less the need to do additional due diligence by shopping elsewhere and spending more time.”

He adds that showrooms can also help a company stand out from the competition. He says for them it’s in “maintaining a clean comfortable environment where we spend extra time with our customers in helping them make typically a large financial decision that will be with them for many years.”

Glass Doctor of Metro Atlanta
Jim Bernstein, owner of Glass Doctor Metro Atlanta, says the goal in creating his showroom was simple: “to feature everything that we do in glass service work …” This includes eight shower displays featuring Alumax and CRL products, several different types of mirrors, insulating glass unit replacement (before/after), a unique heavy glass room based on CRL’s Laguna slider with a gradient film application, art glass, various glass standoff applications, glass shelving systems, glass tabletops and bases.

With so much to offer, the company has many suppliers with which it works. In addition to Alumax and CRL, others include Precision Frameworks, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®, Factory Glass Direct, SpanCraft, Diamond Fusion and American Insulated Glass. 

“We also feature our partners that helped in the build-out such as Trusted Toolbox, Emser Tile, and Devore & Johnson (for fixtures),” says Bernstein And with so much to take in, Bernstein says customers visiting the shop for the first time are often surprised to find so much.

“Wow. I didn’t know Glass Doctor does all of this,” is a common first reaction, he says.

“Customers come from all of our service segments (home, auto, business). We are a retailer that has been in the Atlanta market for more than 30 years. We get a lot of walk-in traffic,” he says. “Home owners might bring in a broken window for repair, or they may be looking for ideas to remodel their bathrooms.”

He adds, “People like to touch, feel and see the various options available to them.” Showrooms, however, need to be maintained and they need to present up-to-date products and options; customers don’t want to walk in and see outdated shower enclosures, for example.

“We spent about $100,000 in our build-out. We didn’t want there to be any holes in what we presented in the showroom,” says Bernstein. “We also used the build-out as a training tool for our associates. We did some things that we had not previously done before and found out that we had the skills.” As he explains, previously they had never done an all-glass entry system using ˝-inch glass and the CRL Laguna Series sliding door with transom. 

“We worked with our sister company (Portland Glass), CRL and Oldcastle Building Envelope on the specs,” says Bernstein. “This collaboration gave us the technical understanding and confidence to undertake this large project —330 square feet of interior floor to ceiling glass. The system went up very smoothly.”

For many companies, including Glass Doctor Metro Atlanta, one of the most attractive qualities of a showroom is that customers can easily see the exact capabilities and offerings.

“We have a glass sign mounted on standoffs behind our sales counter,” says Bernstein. “It simply says: ‘If it’s glass, we can do it!’”

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