Is your showroom up to snuff for today’s tech savvy millennials? If you haven’t updated in the last five or 10 years, the answer to that question is probably no — and that means you’re missing out on a key sales tool, experts say.
“Showrooms give the ability to touch, feel, and experience it,” said James Mueller, president of No Pressure Selling, a contractor-focused consultancy. “It used to be if you were a contractor, customers didn’t expect that much from you. But now retail stores like Apple and even Best Buy have really raised the bar.”
That’s why contractors like C&L Ward are reinvesting in their showrooms with state of the art technology and features that give customers the “wow factor” they’ve come to expect. In May, the company re-opened a showroom that hadn’t been renovated since the ‘90s. The nearly year-long renovation included a thoughtful color palette, LED lighting throughout and large windows that lend the space a more commercial feel, said Eric Ward, the firm’s operations and installation vice president. But early indications are the $350,000 investment was well worth it.
“I think it’s going to exceed our expectations just by the buzz we’re getting,” Ward said. “It’s definitely going to be a game changer for us.” On the first day alone, Ward said about a dozen clients set appointments with the firm after walking into the showroom.
So what do today’s showrooms have to offer to get that same kind of payback?
“It all comes back to the customer experience, and are we creating a referral worthy customer experience?” Mueller said.
It starts with offering professional quality video presentations in your showroom that explain why your company is the one customers should choose. “That’s the barrier to entry,” he said. “You go into an Apple store and every one of their devices has a video explaining the product.”
C&L Ward took the video concept one step further with several 60-inch smart TVs where sales people can show customers interactive videos and home renderings all from their iPads. Customers can even bring in their own renderings and display them on the TVs. “A lot of manufacturers are geared toward these mobile apps and technology, and a lot of people are using technology now to find the product they’re looking for,” Ward said.
Still, there’s no substitute for actually seeing the product in the showroom. But unlike showrooms of the past, today’s showrooms need to mimic the wide range of products customers can find online.
C&L Ward put a lot of its efforts into expanding samples and how customers can interact with them. So rather than the one or two window displays many contractors offer, the showroom displays 30 full size windows with different exterior facades. “So they can actually see and feel and look at all the different choices,” Ward said.
Similarly, another display features 50 to 60 entry doors with different styles of glass and paint options. It also offers an interactive touch screen display that lets customers change glass styles on doors.
“It isn’t just looking at one roll away display,” Ward said. “It’s really looking at a real life scenario.”
For example, Mueller says rather than simply offer a static display of faucets, today’s displays should let customers remove a faucet and place it with a basin to see what it looks like. “If you get them in the showroom it better be point-and-click easy to buy,” he said.
Ultimately, however, Mueller said the best showrooms feature something technology can’t produce — superior customer service underlain with a nod toward craftsmanship. “We get all hopped on the tech and we forget how important that face-to-face is,” he said. “On some level if customers don’t see enough value in our people, we can invest in tech until we’re blue in the face and it won’t do anything for us.”