Kitchen & Bath Design News

SEP 2018

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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WHEN YOU PLAN a road trip, you pre- pare for detours. In the same way, you should build your showroom plan to cover ideally five years or, at least, two years. Even though you can't predict the future, you can have a plan that moves with your business. As changes to your business and prod- uct lines occur, your showroom needs to be flexible in design. The planning is just as important or perhaps more important than the plan itself. LOCATION Are you in the right location? Moving your business site may not be realistic. However, just make sure that you've thoroughly considered your showroom's visibility to the public and the viability of the current building. You may need to adjust tactics to ensure that you are found. Can you make a change or add a new satellite site to grab emerging home- owner markets? As millennials buy their homes, likely near good schools over the next 10 years, markets will change. Many showrooms in the 1990s were located in industrial parks or tucked away from busy shopping areas. Moving near sim- ilar remodeling and building businesses will expose your showroom to potential customers while they're shopping for their homes. If your showroom is hidden or difficult to find, focus on a target area and move your show- room there. FLEXIBLE SPACES Just as home design now trends toward more open floor plans, retail commercial design has also embraced that concept. Break up your showroom floor layout with flexible areas. One of the best ways to promote openness and flex- ibility is to use lower vanity displays that can be seen over. A designer's desk can be combined with a worktable. Have a more open display area built around a work island. Just like in our kitchens, we hang out at the island. This encourages natural and productive conversations that advance project selections with a satisfied homeowner so you can move more quickly into the design phase or the next sale. Meeting there speeds up the sales process because homeowners have more confidence in their decisions – especially when they can compare colors, finishes and compo- nents together. Store paperwork "behind the scenes" so it does not visually clutter and distract from the creative and selling spaces. Some showrooms no longer have manager offices or, if they do, the offices are small and utilitarian so the retail space is the primary focus. Smaller, more flexible displays lower the expense of change-out and replacement. As we serve younger homeowners who appreciate design and new trends, we will be handling design changes more often. Closing rooms can incorporate glass walls to convey transparency in the process. Another way to show space flexibility is to designate areas or floor space for evolving displays. Dedicate a "design choices" area to showcase products that are visually engaging and trendier. Make your showroom a "blank slate," in- cluding the floors and walls. If neutral or incon- spicuous, they'll literally be in the background and not distracting. Then, the well-lit collabo- rative and/or engaging spaces will feature the products themselves. It's very important to have spaces that allow the homeowner to explore and investigate products and samples they've seen on the Internet and HGTV. Most likely, that's why they came into your retail location. In most cases, they don't know how to pull together all the parts into a cohesive design, or how a project progresses from selection to installation. And, they want to touch, feel and see the detail. Who knew there were so many shades of white? How gray or dark is the on- line sample compared to the real thing? Set up your showroom so customers enjoy work- ing with you. ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO! I've given you a lot to consider if you already have a location – and especially if you haven't created a showroom remodel or design before – or in years. I highly recommend you plan to throw away out-of-date and unproductive samples and mark current displays that must go. Use your space wisely, as it is costly. Many showrooms I visit have too many samples they either don't sell or that aren't available anymore. Or worse, they have out-of-date displays they cannot order – wasting valuable square footage. Wasted floor space is a waste of money and time, and it colors the impres- sion that your customer has of your company and services. This fresh start is a lot of work. Break it down into steps or phases so you can stay engaged with the process. The people sell- ing the products want to have input into the showroom decisions. And if they "buy into" your investment, it will make your efforts more successful. If you are a team of one, work with local resources. And, at any size, consult with your vendors to round out your resources. This will give you support to make better decisions. Don't fall into the trap that you don't have time. You must be current! Consider switching out old countertops, backsplashes, hardware and fixtures to be current with less investment than a "gut-job" would cost. How your showroom looks and works is a mirror to the customer. DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF List the advantages of working with you and your team. Define your process and have staff that solves the overall needs of the project. Occasionally you might need to hire a contract specialist for a big project and that can add business and profit to the job. Having a CAD expert or design and pricing software person as part of your design team will give sales- people more time to sell and bring in more revenue. A system that can add resources to increase the project quality could translate into more referrals. A project manager can ensure smoother communication between the customer and the business, as well as adher- ence to a timeline to minimize disruption. A graphic artist and/or social media person can make your digital space look professional and easy to navigate. And, by making sure your online story matches the in-person experience, your customers will feel comfortable and con- fident in your company when they come in. All of these resources may not be possible, so leverage the advantages you offer and put your business' best foot forward. THE HUMAN TOUCH A lot of people shop online these days, but that venue is missing the personal connection you offer – including experts in real-time and " As changes to your business and product lines occur, your showroom needs to be flexible in design." Tips for Creating a Showroom Plan SARAH REEP, ASID, IIDA, CMKBD, CMG, CAPS 28 Kitchen & Bath Design News • September 2018 INSIDE TODAY'S SHOWROOM

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