During the fourth annual Design and Construction Week, Supply House Times columnist Hank Darlington offered a list of showroom best practices at ASA’s Showroom Manager Council Workshop in Orlando, Fla.

What had originally been planned as a 50 steps to the best first impression presentation turned into an open discussion of 90-plus suggestions on how to operate a more efficient and profitable showroom.

“My goal is for all of you to have a running start at your own list of best practices that you can take back and start to implement,” Darlington said. “Your business plan is your GPS.”

He invited attendees to rate their showrooms based on the best practices he listed and encouraged everyone to speak out about what areas they want to do better in and to ask advice from fellow attendees.

“The first thing to look at is location,” Darlington said. “Is the showroom accessible? Is it easy to find and drive to? Is your location more ‘friendly’ than your competition?”

Looking at the building itself, Darlington asked attendees if their locations’ drive-up is attractive? He added landscaping and any window displays should be well-done and well-maintained. Windows, he stressed, should be cleaned regularly and the parking area should be well-lit and close to the showroom entrance.

“The client’s first impression is key to a sale,” he said. “You have about a 30-second impression time. The entrance should be clearly marked, clean and attractive. Do you have a receptionist and/or sign-in area? Are your sales consultants work areas conveniently located? Customers should be warmly greeted within two minutes of entering the showroom. There should be a customer-friendly flow to the room and at least one or two ‘wow’ displays.”

Among the suggested practices, the most discussed included:

  • The location of the showroom — the pros and cons of being next to big-box stores or high-end retail businesses;

  • The client’s first impression — from the phone call (whether it should be automated or not) to that first step through the doors (design, layout, greeting, etc.);

  • How to organize “like” products — whether by price or style;

  • Being upfront with pricing — including the model number and list price on the display;

  • Contractor loyalty — being upfront with warehouse pricing and pricing on the showroom floor;

  • Display turnover — changing displays and layout quarterly and even the paint on the walls yearly;

  • Inviting realtors — create connections to new homeowners; and

  • Hosting events — show off, offer incentives such as free food and get new people in the door.

Darlington ended the presentation with a challenge to the attendees to make a commitment to do what is necessary to improve the items they scored low on and insist on consistency from all staff in using those best practices.


This article was originally titled “The best first impression” in the February 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.