Fenestration Forum – Don’t let your showroom become a warehouse
By Brian Burton
By Brian Burton
Your showroom is the public face of your company. Too often in our industry, these areas take on the appearance of secondary storerooms for the unsold remnants of yesteryear, complete with dusty, out-of-date products haphazardly scattered amid poor lighting, flat decor, yesterday’s lunch garbage and a stack of boxes awaiting shipping.
When properly thought out and designed, an attractive well-lit and colourful showroom can enhance the customer buying experience for both homeowners and commercial customers.
Your goals in designing your showroom only start with creating an opportunity to showcase your product lines in the best possible light. Some companies use their showroom space to illustrate their corporate history and background. A great showroom helps you demonstrate to potential clients your on-going leadership in the industry, establishing your credibility. Instead of just showing off the product, assist customers to visualize it installed in their home or business. Doing all this helps you stand out clearly and distinctly from your competitors.
When designing a showroom, three or four traditional rules of thumb apply. Keep it simple. While it might be tempting to jam everything you carry into your showroom, less can be more in terms of focusing customer attention. Rather than put in everything, feature only the latest and greatest and update the products frequently to prevent the look from getting stale. Above all, avoid clutter and using the area for storage or stock. Experts suggest the aisles be wide enough to accommodate two people to encourage easy circulation.
In recent years, interior designers have begun to incorporate virtual or interactive elements to keep product showrooms lively and this is something you can consider along with bringing in outside design help if you think it might help augment your efforts. Professional designers often make a point to use bold colours, and frequently recommend investing in complementary light fixtures and contemporary wallcoverings. Your showroom investment can also be a multi-purpose space if designed correctly, becoming useful for staff meetings, training sessions, product launches, media events and lunch-and-learns. Take your time and test it out to make sure it works well in all its various functions. It also helps if your showroom space has easy access to your offices and lobby spaces. Consider making room for a few desks where you can lay out paperwork to expedite the sales process.
While planning your layout, keep in mind that at some point you might expand or add product lines. You also need to consider design features and amenities. Think about convenient parking with plenty of space, immaculate washrooms and proper signage.
Ensuring your showroom has a spacious look and incorporating room for circulation and movement from one product area to the other helps create a welcoming space and can be an important key to helping customers feel at home. The same applies to waiting areas where you provide refreshments. Providing reading material and WiFi in these areas is not a bad idea.
A good showroom actually has a lot in common with an effective window display. The best ones manage to tell a story, or at least demonstrate your brand and commitment to quality. Although your showroom is a business space, you also need to incorporate areas or spaces that encourage informality. For example, access to the outdoors and comfortable and informal furnishings. These are especially effective if your client is thinking about improving their residential environment.
We’re not always as comfortable showing off what we do as we are just doing it. But don’t let that lead to neglect of your showroom. Your customers won’t buy what they can’t see.
Brian is a construction writer from Ottawa Ontario who served on the CSA’s Fenestration Installation Technician Certification Program Personnel Committee. You can contact Brian at Blueblade49@gmail.com or learn more by visiting Burton’s-Pen.com