KBB - March 2014 - (Page 16)
Keeping up with the changing tides of the kitchen and bath industry
The one thing that has remained constant in the ever-changing kitchen
and bath industry through the last several years is the showroom. Dealers
have always strived to show the latest styles and modern features in beautiful displays, and an impressive showroom has always put the dealer one
step closer to the sale. But is this still true today?
We have more choices today than we have had in years past, and
one thing I have learned is there is no way to display every product available on the market. For example: Let's say there are 10 color choices
for a given product. In a perfect world, we would show all 10 colors, but
assume that your space will only allow you to display five choices. Is it
better to show five and educate the customer that more choices exist?
Or is it better to show only one color and then let the customer know that
part of your service is to order a sample in the color they want?
The second scenario requires less showroom space, and it provides
each customer with a personalized experience. Using that thought process
across all product lines, the real estate footprint of a showroom can be
decreased, even though there are many more product choices available.
Technology is Tantamount
One of the biggest changes in this industry (and probably most other
industries as well) is the introduction and refinement of technology. A
simple PowerPoint presentation can show the advantages of working
with your company, products that you represent - even an introduction
to your sales staff.
Manufacturers' websites are becoming increasingly customer oriented,
and the desire for tablets or smart phones is evermore abundant. Customers are becoming more comfortable viewing products in this fashion, and
many will be turned off if not given that option in your showroom.
As designers or salespeople, we can explain an idea to a client, but
if it can be backed up with a picture or positive review online, the client
will be more inclined to buy in. I don't know if the day will come where an
entire showroom can be held in your hands, but adding the virtual showroom to the physical showroom can aid the sales process and reduce
the floor space.
Is Bigger Better?
In the pre-2008 world, a big, impressive showroom was a viewed as
a plus. Today, I believe a large showroom may actually be a liability. You
want and need to be able to impress a potential client, but people are
much more economy minded than they used to be. If potential clients
believe they have to pay more to cover the cost of your showroom, they
are very likely to take their business elsewhere. They may come to your
showroom to look around and steal ideas, but their money will go to a
discount store or online retailer.
Manufacturers' websites are becoming increasingly customer oriented, and
adding the virtual showroom to the physical showroom can aid the sales
process and reduce floor space.
When planning your showroom, I feel it is critical to find the correct
balance. In many cases, that means a smaller space with a well-thoughtout floor plan to maximize efficiency. I have seen many showrooms and
business models in my more than three decades in this business, and the
one-size-fits-all mindset has no place here.
When thinking about how to update, change, add to or delete from
your showroom, I look at it this way: If you were designing/building a
showroom from scratch today, what would your ideal space look like?
How many square feet would it need to be? How many display areas
would be necessary? How many designers/salespeople would you
enlist? What would your product mix be? How would you incorporate
technology into your sales presentation? Where would your showroom
In many cases, our businesses models have evolved over the years,
which is usually a good thing. We just need to make sure that we have
evolved - and are continuing to evolve - in this ever-changing industry. n
March 2014 / www.kbbonline.com / The Official Sponsor of KBIS www.kbis.com
- Steven Strauss, AKBD, is president of
Direct Kitchen Distributors in Whitehall, Pa.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of KBB - March 2014
KBB - March 2014
Show Director’s Note
People & Places
KBIS 2014 and Design & Construction Week
Coastal kitchen acquires more space and customization
There and Back
KBB - March 2014