I appreciate letters from readers, and try to respond to as many
as possible. This is an actual letter from a reader I received just
a few weeks ago:
Your columns in Kitchen & Bath Design News have prompted me
to write to you about a couple of things I’ve noticed when visiting
I have been looking for a new job, having recently left the
employ of a showroom, and have been very disappointed at showrooms
in the industry. Many of them are tiny, cramped, poorly designed,
thrown together, poorly lit, “catch-as-catch-can” in appearance,
and staffed by people who don’t seem to have a clue as to the
meaning of “customer friendly.”
Many of these places are so disappointing upon first look that I
find myself doing a “just looking, thank you” routine and walking
out without inquiring about work.
I find myself wanting my own showroom. I know of two locations
in an area where development is taking off, but there are no
showrooms within 10 miles. I just haven’t any idea how to go about
it and I have no capital with which to begin. If you might have any
suggestions for me, I would appreciate any help you can offer.
I want large, well-lit, well-delineated areas for displays and
not too much clutter. I want to cover fashion plumbing and hardware
with cabinetry, closetry, tile and surfaces. In addition, I want
Every showroom I’ve seen fails to address one of the most
important elements of design lighting. They use some lights in
their displays, but fail to offer lighting as a part of the
comprehensive design package except when the lighting is integral
to cabinets or mirrors.
It seems that my hunger to have my own business is coming to the
forefront, and I don’t know if it will ever leave me.
Tell me, please, if you have any thoughts on this. I would
appreciate another viewpoint. Thank you.
I thought this letter
was very interesting. I have visited a lot of kitchen and bath
dealers around the country, and have come across some really well
laid-out, nicely designed and well-lit showrooms. But, like this
writer, I have visited some that were terrible. They were very
poorly lit, not very well put together, and in just one word
This letter made me realize that one of a kitchen and bath
dealer’s best marketing tools is the showroom itself. It needs to
be a destination spot, where potential buyers can allow themselves
to be caught up in a “life-enhancement, better-living
Once you have a showroom that will knock prospects off their
feet, all you have to do is concentrate on bringing more prospects
into your showroom. Using your showroom as a marketing tool means
updating it frequently, lighting it well and making it comfortable,
clean and convenient for your prospects to look, touch, feel and
dream. Your showroom needs to be looked at from the eyes of a
potential buyer, not just from the eyes of someone who has to be
there day after day.
I told the writer that I thought she had a great future in the
kitchen and bath industry, and if she was really interested in
going out on her own, to find someone who shared her feelings as
well as foresight, and maybe partner up with them. It could be an
investor, a partner or someone who would bring her into their
business. She seems to have found an area of the country where the
competition is “asleep at the switch.”
How do you stack up against
your competition? When you go into your showroom tomorrow morning,
here’s a little checklist of a dozen things you should go over:
1. Is there any dust anywhere on any of the displays?
2. Are there any pamphlets, coffee cups, tools or scrap lying on
or near the displays?
3. Are your floors clean, carpets vacuumed and hardwoods
4. Is your showroom well-lit, with the lighting well-focused?
Are all of the bulbs working?
5. Are your displays seasonally correct? Do you have the right
mood, accessories, decorations, floral pieces and POP pieces for
the right time of year?
6. Do you have a comfortable, clean area for your prospects to
sit? Is there a space to roll out plans and designs without having
to clear a mess away?
7. Do you have a children’s area where kids can entertain
themselves while their parents concentrate on a new kitchen or
8. Are your restrooms clean? Do your restrooms look like they
are representative of a showroom that shows great bathrooms?
9. Do you have a coffee, soft-drink and water set-up to slow
down customers who need time to think and converse?
10. Are your displays uncluttered and customer-friendly and do
they look like they are something a customer would want to come
11. Is your showroom representative of your creative talent for
designing kitchens and bathrooms?
12. Is your showroom the type of place customers would want to
tell friends and relatives about?
You know what the answers to those 12 questions should be. Are
you 12 for 12?
Now, send someone over to your competitors’ showrooms. How do
they stack up? Next, decide what you can do to make your showroom
Don’t think of your showroom as a warehouse or secondary part of
your business. If you do, you’ll lose as many customers as you’ll
Think of it as a marketing tool. Concentrate on getting more
customers and prospects through your door. With great-looking,
creative, constantly changing, well-lit displays, it will be easy
Bob Popyk is the publisher of Creative Selling’, a monthly
newsletter on sales and marketing strategies. For a free sample,
call (800) 724-9700; e-mail RPopyk@bentley-hall.com; write to:
Bentley-Hall, Inc., 120 Walton Street, Suite 201, Syracuse, NY
13202, or visit his Web site at http://www.creativeselling.com.’