Planning Your Showroom Updates
- A design plan, formulated in concert with your marketing plan, that is aimed at your target audience.
- An efficient traffic plan that considers flow through the space.
- Destination centers for selling and selecting products.
- A complete graphic identity that extends from the entrance of your property to the back door.
- A detailed lighting plan that distinguishes display areas from task areas, maximizes impact and is easily changeable.
Let's say you used these elements to build your showroom and it turned out beautifully. But now it's 12 to 18 months later and things have changed. Some of your displays contain discontinued product. Some surfaces are starting to show wear and look shabby. Some of the overall design elements have reached the end of their life cycle and do not look as fresh as they once did.
Regularly updating your showroom ensures that your clients will have access to the most current products and design trends. It will also convince them that yours is a cutting-edge company.
What do you do about this disarray that's developed over time? Well, if you'd established an showroom update plan, you could have saved yourself from having to face this dilemma. But happily, there are ways that you can rescue your showroom from this predicament.
For most business owners, the problem is how to keep the showroom current without obliterating the budget. If money weren't an issue, you might find it fun to continually redesign and update your showroom space. But we all know the reality of the situation. And, above all else, that requires keeping an eye on the bottom line.
For that reason, it's imperative that you plan for your updates. With so many variables to consider, that can be a big job. But go back to your master plan. While budget is key, timing also is important.
You always should be considering the future and upcoming business events, such as anniversaries, annual sales or happenings that take place in your community. These all should be taken into account before any products are chosen for the showroom. Once the fundamentals are in place, you can determine what resources to use and how to present them to your clients. Only at that point, can you agree on what manufacturing partnerships to proceed with and resource materials to order. That's a lot of work to do on the front end but, believe me, it will pay off down the road!
In case you're confused, this represents the beginning of your update plan. While daunting and overwhelming, investing the necessary time in research and careful decision-making can pay big dividends in the long run. And that's because nearly all of your decisions from that point forward are based on the original master plan.
Because of the aggressive schedule that manufacturers use for new product introductions, I recommend an 18-month showroom cycle for floor covering retailers. Other industries are slower paced, which allows update plans to be extended over longer periods.
So how do you proceed? During the first three to six months, you should be evaluating what you've designed. Look at each display and determine what is and what isn't working. Don't be afraid to make necessary changes. Remember, this approach can and should be tweaked at any time if it's not working.
To maintain optimal visual interest, you should refresh displays nine months after implementing the showroom master plan. Usually, this involves only small, decorative changes. These might include changing out accessories, paint colors or maybe a countertop or floor to show that latest introductions in materials or color. Again, be on the lookout for display items that no longer work.
After completing this update, you should begin to plan for changing out displays. When you do, keep the master plan in mind and don't hesitate to consider trends forecasted by industry experts or consultants. Their research can help you identify new and different products to feature in your displays.
By the end of one year, it's time to begin renovations. Plan these renovations so that they create the least possible disruption to your business. Plan all aspects of the project -- first, secure the needed materials and then schedule the tradesmen who will perform the installations. Stick to a strict completion schedule. Involve your customers by displaying renderings of how the new display will look when finished, and perhaps even use the drawings in your publicity and advertising. Once the project is complete, celebrate the occasion with an open house or some other event that fits your business strategy and marketing plan.
Once the 18-month cycle is complete, the updating cycle begins again. At that point, it's time to reevaluate the original master plan. Can you institute small operational changes to keep the showroom running more smoothly? Or is now the time to add more space to the showroom? (If you start out small, you can always add displays as your budget allows.)
This would also be an opportune time to evaluate changes that you made in the midst of the 18-month cycle. Are those changes reaping the results you hoped for? What worked and what didn't? After you have answered these questions, plan and implement more changes -- whether large or small -- to keep your showroom up to date, interesting, inviting, and booming with business!
The update plan I've outlined provides a feasible, evolving means of keeping your showroom looking fresh within the constraints of day-to-day operations. The 18-month cycle will keep you in line with new product introductions and evolving trends in the flooring business.
The discipline of following the plan allows you to remain on the cutting edge of what's happening in your business. It forces you to continually revisit your overall marketing plan to determine which displays are helping your business and which ones are no longer productive. It spreads the costs over a period of time, but also makes sure that you use all the funds that were budgeted.
Some will say that this strategy is totally out of the question for their businesses. The excuse may be that they can't afford to change out their showroom displays at such a rapid pace. My response would be that perhaps they may have too much real estate to manage.
It's easy to keep adding products to your showroom. In fact, I submit that many of you have 50 percent more product samples than you need to sell to your targeted audience.
A more productive selling environment would be to work with a smaller group of vendors and provide superior customer service to your customers. Zero-in on what it will take to solve your clients' flooring dilemmas and close the sale. If you did a good job of formulating your business and marketing plans, you'll have chosen the right vendors and best products to make that happen!