More than ever, the showroom is a viable force in a home improvement company's marketing program. But know where it fits. A showroom's costs, including “personnel time” and similar factors, must be scrutinized within the marketing budget. Showrooms have to be operated at hours most beneficial to prospects, which likely means evenings and weekends. And floor time has to be allocated to those with the skills to produce the results that ultimately end in a sale.

People are key. Beyond design that creates well-thought-out displays, lighting, and selling areas, a modern showroom needs personnel trained and scripted in customer satisfaction methods. It's in the personnel aspect that most showrooms fail.

The people who staff your showroom — including salespeople who may do floor duty from time to time —have to be scripted. Their dress, behavior, and language require planning and control. Past customers, qualified prospects, and the merely curious have to be addressed with language that makes them feel comfortable and that responds to their purpose for coming. “How may I help you?” or “How are you today?” won't cut it.

Those entering the showroom should be treated as guests. Yet at the same time, it's important for showroom personnel to get information to determine which products or models to show. So, for instance, visitors might be asked to sign a guest register providing information such as address, phone and fax numbers, e-mail address, and age of their home. Their other needs can then be elicited during the scripted conversation.

Showroom duty calls for an upbeat personality. Someone who asks questions, knows how to listen, and understands how to build leads into appointments is essential.

In many cases salespeople used in this role over-qualify or attempt to sell the product, or they give too much information and provide ballpark estimates. For the most part, a showroom featuring home improvement products is the lightbulb that attracts the moth. The sale will be made later at the prospect's home or place of business. —Dave Yoho is president of the oldest and largest consulting group serving the home improvement industry. His recently published book, Have A Great Year Every Year, is available through most major bookstores. For additional information go to or phone 703.591.2490.