Credit: Photo: DSGpro

There's nothing you could give Kip Lee to get him to stop offering a discount to customers who appear on his showroom doorstep. “Our closing percentage almost doubles — it's more than 50% — when consumers come to the showroom,” says the owner of Coastal Empire Exteriors, in Savannah, Ga.

At All-Seal Home Improvement, in Dayton, Ohio, owner Jack Kostak notes that chances are 20% better that customers who visit one of the company's three showrooms will end up buying from All-Seal. He's currently considering some way to get more people to his showrooms, possibly a showroom sale.

Jerry Kerby, however, isn't a convert to showroom discounts. “I'd love to find a way to bring people into the showroom,” admits the president of California Replacement Windows, in Anaheim. But he's not yet convinced that a showroom discount is the path to a higher closing ratio.

FUELING SALES Lee's showroom discount ranges from $250 to $500, depending on the products that consumers purchase. “We used to offer 10% off the sale, but that was just too much money,” he says.

Lee says bringing consumers to his showroom helps close the sale by highlighting the company's products and people. “Consumers get to see all of our products in person,” he says. “They also have an opportunity to see that we're not a company working out of the back of a pickup truck.”

The showroom helps close sales at Hall's Window Center, a Renewal by Andersen affiliate, in Sacramento, Calif. “Our average close rates are in the high 30% to low 40% range, and the showroom is responsible for 8% to 10% of that,” says Bob Grandinetti, the company's owner. That's why the company offers a $20 gas card to get homeowners off the couch and into the showroom.

The gas promotion has boosted showroom traffic by about 25%, Grandinetti says. It has also helped salespeople nudge consumers toward a sale during in-home presentations. “If we have an appointment in a home,” he says, “salespeople can say to homeowners, ‘Let's make a showroom appointment, and we'll pay for the gas.'”

WHATEVER IT TAKES Kerby says he doesn't offer showroom discounts because other sales techniques are already doing the job. His sales reps provide quotes over the phone, and they tell homeowners that the price may actually be lower once the rep comes out to inspect the job. “That's generally an enticement to get us out there,” he explains, “because it basically says there's always room for negotiation.”

That said, Kerby is not opposed to offering a showroom discount. “The day I think I know it all is the day I get out of this business,” he says. “If there's a way to get people into the showroom, and it's by offering a discount, a demonstration, or hot dogs and popcorn, I'm game.”