November 3rd, 2022
It’s Time to Bring Back the Showroom and the Art of Enticement
It’s November already! With the year winding down and the demand curve leveling out, many window and door fabricators are getting caught up on back orders. Before you know it, spring of 2023 will be here. Even with reports of new COVID strains in the news, it is quite apparent that public life is almost back to normal. Most everyone I talk to also agrees that a strong 2023 sales year is not a given. So, it is time to talk about the art of enticement. With that being said, I believe the dealer showroom will be making a comeback in 2023.
In the COVID world we relied heavily upon the internet for product promotion and sales, but there is one thing that the internet cannot do. It cannot offer the customer an opportunity to touch, feel and interact with your products. The showroom can do just that. A picture or drawing on the internet appeals only to the visual senses. But when you can get a prospect to touch, operate, look through your windows, and walk through your doors, then this experience appeals to all of customers’ senses. After all, a homeowner personally interacts with their windows and doors every time they sit or stand next to them, look through them, open and shut them or travel through them, as is the case with doors.
So, nothing says more about a window and door company than its showroom! A showroom can represent a significant investment, but the payback is there! That’s because nothing sells a window or door more effectively than giving prospective customers the opportunity to see it up close at eye level and installed into an opening just as it might look in their home. It is a chance to experience how it operates, to see firsthand how it functions and to appreciate the beauty of the craftsmanship just as it would be installed in one’s home. Indeed, showrooms can enable you to validate your company’s image as one of quality, craftsmanship, value, and professionalism. These are all attributes that a prospective buyer wants to see in a prospective seller. An effective showroom will help your prospect to identify with your company’s image while helping them to see a variety of the product types, styles, colors and finishes that you offer.
If your company sells doors, then entry into your showroom should absolutely be through one of your nicest looking doors! After all, when a homeowner invites guests to his home, the front door makes the first impression. So let the prospective customer experience the feel of walking up to a striking door with a beautiful handle and secure yet easy opening locking mechanism. The prospect may imagine that he or she is a visitor approaching their own home for the first time. “How would a visitor feel when they approach this door, the gateway to my home?” they might wonder. What does this door say about the family that resides within? What does it say to a potential guest? And by the way, “What does the security features of this door say to a potential thief?”
Once through the door, the prospect should immediately become enthralled with your company’s best window offerings, showing the complete spectrum of your various window types, colors, and hardware options available. A variety of windows can be mounted on each of the two adjacent walls with comfortable chairs and beautiful plants conveniently placed so that the prospect can experience how it would feel to hang out in a room by the various windows on display. A few product demonstrations inside the showroom are essential. My favorite is to have radiation bulbs set up outside of the showroom aiming solar and infrared radiation into the showroom through several of the windows. One window can employ clear glass with an adjacent window featuring low-e, solar glass or even triple pane glazing. Invite the visitor to sit next to each window to feel the level of comfort they will experience from inside the home when the sun is beating down from the outside. There is a company called Electronic Design to Market (EDTM), that supplies meters that are useful to show the effectiveness of your insulating glass design when it comes to thermal performance and ultraviolet light protection. I have known this company many years ago when they were first getting started and it was great to see them at the Glass-Build show still thriving.
As the prospect is led through the showroom, he or she can also see how each type of window that you offer looks from the inside of the home, which is where a homeowner would interact with their windows most of the time. They can also see how easy the windows are to open and shut, to clean, and they can experience the operation of the locks, and the view through each type of window. So, to this point, it is also important to surround your showroom with plants and flowers on the outside so that prospects can feel what it would be like to interact with nature through each type of window whether it is a double hung, a slider or a picture window with varying degrees of viewing areas involved. We can talk about U-Values and Energy Star ratings all day long, but the main attraction of any window is to connect the homeowner to his or her surroundings, while simultaneously providing creature comforts inside the home no matter how warm, cold, or wet it may be outside of the home. I like to refer to this as the “Window Experience.” Values on an NFRC label are great, but nothing can take the place of the Window Experience when it comes to convincing a prospect to complete the purchase.
To help facilitate the Window Experience, you should invite prospects to relax, and visit with a salesperson. So, set up several circular dining room tables with comfortable chairs or even couches and coffee tables where prospects can be invited to sit, relax and to discuss their needs with their salesperson. Offer them coffee, fruit or cookies, and chat with them about their project while enjoying this relaxed environment.
Earlier, I talked about the importance of impressing the prospects when they enter the showroom, but it is equally important to make a statement when they leave. So be sure to lead them out through another impressive door as they exit the showroom.
With low interest rates in the recent past, the window & door industry saw a diminished need for financing plans, but with interest rates increasing over the last year and expected to remain higher in the year ahead, it may be time to bring back creative financing plans such as those featuring no payments for 6 months, no interest if paid for in 6 months or similar plans to help convince the prospect to buy now as opposed to later.
Record demand levels for windows and doors may no longer be the norm next year, so now is the time to start designing a showroom for the start of the spring selling season that will convince homeowners to invest in new windows and doors despite rising prices and higher interest rates. Indeed, it’s time to get back to the art of enticement!