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Al's Column: Is your store a designer magnet?

November 9/16; Volume 30/Number 11

By Annette Callari

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 4.37.23 PMAttracting designers and becoming one of their valued resources is an important way to expand your flooring business and reach qualified customers. Designers can bring high-budget business straight to your showroom, including high-end residential and mid-sized commercial projects that can boost your Main Street commercial business.

Redesigning or simply using creative merchandising techniques can turn your showroom into a designer magnet. Designers are looking for someone who understands their needs and offers an upscale environment where they can successfully work with their clients.

Creating a showroom that qualifies as a designer magnet is quite an achievement. Unless you are a designer, how do you really know what attracts them?

Unless you are already working with designers and have asked them, you may not have a clue as to whether or not you are on target to meeting their needs. So how can you take an objective look at your business and find out exactly how it ranks against the competition? Let’s approach this with a quick personal quiz; it’s a great launch point and touches on the necessary basics that need your attention. Ask yourself:

1.Is my showroom clean, uncluttered and neatly sampled?

2.Do I have a good mix of natural and overhead lighting?

3.Do I have comfortable, strategically placed work tables to lay out design samples and meet with clients?

4.Are the floor covering samples displayed in my store varied, unique and current?

5.Do I have a balance of both commercial architect folders and residential samples?

6.Do I change my showroom floors frequently to showcase new products?

7.Do I have a pricing program in place for designers only?

8.Do I have an efficient system for designers or their customers to check out samples?

9.Do I offer exceptional customer service to keep the designer informed on all orders?

10.What do I offer designers that they can’t get elsewhere?

This quiz may seem like an oversimplification of what it takes for a store to make the grade as a designer magnet, but each point to which you answered yes earns major credit toward that classification.

Point No. 4 is worthy of more discussion. Your selection of products is a critical factor in the eyes of the design trade. A “me too” collection is not going to earn you magnet status. Even if you have products private labeled, that isn’t what designers are looking for. They want fresh, ahead-of-the-trends styles and colors that fit their design visions. Investigate niche mills and specialty product suppliers. The higher-end product category is an adventure waiting to be researched. Color palettes for the various products are just as important as the product style itself, so consider (for a nominal consultation fee) inviting a professional designer to assist you in evaluating and selecting potential new product lines.

With the combination of an attractive workplace, exceptional products and customer service, a to-the-trade pricing program, warehousing capabilities and a roll-out plan of how to get the word out, you now have the key ingredients for becoming a trusted resource for the design professional.

To explore this subject in more depth, attend my session, “Laws of Attraction: Merchandising Your Showroom to Become a Designer Magnet,” on Jan. 20 at The International Surface Event (TISE) in Las Vegas.