Volume 50, Issue 2 - February 2015

Show Time

Keys to Success for a Glass Shop Showroom

By Nick St. Denis

ffering products and services is only part of the battle for most glass retailers.

Advertising, the Internet and word-of-mouth can do wonders in drawing in potential customers, but when those sales prospects walk in the door, the next—and often final—phase in marketing is creating an environment to help close the deal.

For this report, glass shops around the country helped USGlass identify the most important factors of creating and maintaining a successful showroom

“Airy,” “tidy” and “inviting” are just a few words Glass Depots USA’s Ron Stern uses to describe the ideal glass shop showroom.

At Your Service

Customer service: there’s a novel idea.

Maybe the most obvious, yet most delicate, aspect of getting the most out of a showroom is having knowledgeable, capable salespeople on hand.

“We want to demonstrate the product and show how it’s going to look and work for them,” says Hal Monheim, president of Palmdale Glass & Mirror in Palmdale, Calif. “Your salespeople have to be able to demonstrate every product in there.”

He says that can be accomplished by going over each of the products and their functions with the staff, and providing informational packets to “study” when necessary.

Because Palmdale has a steady flow of traffic throughout the day, the business has a walk-in service desk where the customer heads first. Employees can then direct the customer to the appropriate products, and can call upon the person best qualified in the building at that time to assist the customer.

Not every shop can have the luxury of a walk-in service desk, but that immediate connection between the salesperson and customer is still necessary.

“People need to be greeted,” says Monheim. “The worst thing you can do is just let somebody walk around. … If they’re not acknowledged early on, there’s a high chance of them walking out because they feel left alone.”

The Dulles Glass & Mirror showroom, pictured in the background, allows customers to see and touch full-sized displays of various configurations of products, so they can imagine the product in their own space.

Showing the Goods

In the showroom, Ron Stern of Glass Depots USA in Raleigh, N.C., stresses the need for a “good product range,” as well as sound representation of those products and samples.

For example, shower doors, he says, should be displayed in a range of types—“framed, semi, 3⁄8-inch, heavy, etc. so the customer can compare differences.”

“Being able to offer a variety of configurations and displaying the different configurations is important,” adds Emre Tunc, executive director of business development at Dulles Glass & Mirror in Manassas, Va. “We want to present a showroom that shows all of the configurations possible.”

Monheim says it’s important to have “full-size, real displays—having the products displayed in a manner of how it will appear at home.

“Just in shower doors alone, we have 11 full-size [displays].”

Monheim adds that “finding a niche” is important, something Palmdale has done with framed mirrors. “That’s a real adder to our profits,” he says. “…Our showroom is set up to be a sales tool. It’s not a display room.”

Up Close and Personal

Tunc says the goal of the showroom is to provide the customer with a good enough representation of the product that they can “imagine” it in their own home.

He adds that while products can be seen online or on paper with additional information, there’s no substitute for customers being able to get their hands on the products.

“They have to be able to touch it, see that it’s a tough product—feel the handle and see how durable it is.” He says.

“. . . A customer may ask, ‘why am I going to pay hundreds more dollars for this particular product?’ Those are the kinds of questions that can be answered when they come into the showroom.”

Monheim says that at his company, “We use the showroom as a decision-making tool and a closing tool. In most cases, we’ve already been on an in-home visit with them. … The showroom is where final decisions can be made, where they can see the products and understand how it’s going to work in their home.”

Palmdale Glass & Mirror uses its showroom as a “sales tool,” not just a “display room.”

Setting the Mood

Stern says the showroom must be “open, airy, tidy, warm and spacious.” To sum it up, “inviting.”

He adds that there must be a lot of light, whether it be natural, artificial or a combination of both.

Monheim says his company’s showroom is “wide open” and has soft music playing in the background. He also notes the lighting, and that his location “has a very industrial, casual feel to it.”

Stern says there should also be a place for customers to sit and ponder, as well as a table “large enough to lay out plans or other drawings.”

“Tile selection, the color of the tile, the painting on the wall, the lighting—these types of things have an effect and are also very important,” adds Tunc, who says their goal with the showroom is to “inspire our customers about the possibilities—things that they may not have ever imagined they could do with their space.

“It’s also a great way to show our customers the difference between the ‘average’ shower installation, which they might have seen in a big box store, and an installation done by glass experts with high-quality materials,” he says.

Proper Literature

Having product brochures and pamphlets handy is a must, says Stern.

“Even though it can be seen on the Internet, customers need to leave with something in their hands,” he says.

Tunc adds that the focus of the literature must be specific to the shop and go beyond the products themselves.

“We do believe that before they leave the showroom, we must hand them something that’s not just a pamphlet of commonly used products, but rather something that represents Dulles Glass,” he says. “. . . Who we are, what we’re about, and the steps we take in the process.”

Monheim says that while “leaving with literature is becoming less and less common because of the Internet,” customers still typically leave with something in their hands.

“A lot of the time, it’s a business card with a piece of paper,” he says. “On that piece of paper is a list of websites for research … starting with our own.”

Focuses of a Winning Showroom

1. Great customer service:
Knowledge of the products inside and out plus sincere customer attentiveness is a winning formula.

2. Wide product range:
Not only is a range of product types necessary, but shops must also be able to show variations and different configurations of a particular product type to match customers’ personal needs.

3. Full-size displays:
Customers need to see exactly what it is they’re considering to buy—in its full capacity. Hands-on sampling of the product is key to giving the customer confidence in their purchase.

4. Setting the proper tone:
The right lighting, paint color and floor type, depending on the application, can give customers a much better indication of how the product will look in their particular setting.

5. Establishing a niche:
Adding a key niche—whether it be something like custom work or a repair service—can be a major difference-maker in profit.

the author

Nick St. Denis is an assistant editor for USGlass magazine. He can be reached at nstdenis@glass.com.

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