“Excuse me, do you know where I can see a water-trough faucet?
“I am looking for Mike, can you help me find him?
“Do you know where the parts counter is?
“I would like to look for a new faucet for my powder room, can you help?
“Do you know where a ‘working’ bathroom is? Ha,Ha…”
These are typical questions a showroom person fields during a day sitting at their work space on, in, your decorative showroom floor. Are these the questions you want your profitable, 7 figure-predicting showroom consultants to answer?
In the 1980s, homeowners, builders and designers would walk into these new-fangled decorative plumbing showrooms and be wowed by all the sparkle and style. And as pretty as it all looked, these design leaders had no idea exactly what they were looking at. Sure, they saw fancy faucets but they had no idea how to layout, buy and install a “decorative bathroom”. Prior to decorative showrooms all that was only handled by the plumber. Who was going to help them navigate this new world. As their mind wandered, they noticed a person sitting at a desk smack in the midst of all that chrome. That person, the showroom consultant, became their bridge, their teacher and their guide into the decorative plumbing world. And this model of a dazzling showroom supported by knowledgeable showroom consultants has performed fabulously. And, as i learns last week, 40 years later this model remains the go-to design for laying out a market-leading showroom.
Last Thursday, I walked into a packed showroom. Sitting right in the middle of a hundred decorative fixtures was a multi decade experienced, 7 figure consultant. He was immersed in a thick set of prints and was then approached by a kind woman who asked him where the bathroom was. He raised his head and respectively showed her the way and them he was asked another question by another shopper. All in all, he was engaged for almost 20 minutes before he was able to get back to those plans. On my next call, I was working with another consultant situated in the showroom and her extension rang. She took the call and I walked away allowing her privacy. Just after I walked away, two individuals lined up at her desk waiting to ask their questions. This is another 7 figure salesperson who losses time every day because of where management has situated her working space.
Is this how you want your million-dollar producing showroom consultants spending a chuck of their time every day?
To build a viable business relationship with their clients a successful showroom consultant must:
- Meet with a client to specify the bathrooms in a new home or remodel job;
- Follow up on a quoted job;
- Research the practicality of a designer specification;
- Search for a product to complete and complement a job specification;
- Complete the blueprint take-offs and create a quote for a job;
- Help a plumber review and price a designer job specification;
- Meet with a local sales representative Ron anything from a new product to researching a special product application;
- Attend a PK;
- Meet with a client to specify the indoor and outdoor kitchens in a new home or remodel job; and
- Check on the delivery of valves for a job about to close up the walls.
In the year 2023, it amazes me how respected showroom consultants, that are stuck to a desk in the middle of a high traffic showroom, continue to post terrific numbers. They have no privacy, anyone strolling by can hear what they are discussing and anyone at any time can walk right up to them and demand a moment of their time. No matter what the consultant is doing. That is what they're there for right? To answer customers’ questions. All at a time where most showroom owners and managers are complaining that they cannot hire any more good showroom people. Have they ever thought to make their current team more efficient?
In looking up the numbers, the time any showroom person loses by being interrupted can be total 15 percent of their day. If a person is in the middle of working on a quote and is interrupted. The actual interruption might only be 5 minutes but to remember what they were doing, and refocusing on the specifics of that task can require 15 minutes. That’s 20 minutes of wasted time your business can never get back. And that likely happens 3, 4, 5 times a day? No matter the state of the market or your showroom coverage, no business wants to take a 15% productivity hit.
I understand that efficient space usage is important and your showroom layout is sometimes dictated by the building’s sizing and practical spaces. But the simple truth is that talented people, no matter what they do, should have a work space that allows them to 100% focus on their time on research, job creation and job follow-up. And not have their space dictated by how many faucets one can crowd into the building’s accessible spaces. So let’s be creative.
If the showroom is small and supported by only two consultants, set up an efficient single person work room for a consultant non-interrupted time to do their off-floor work.
If you have already designed and built out showroom without an off-the-floor workspace, try to find a space in the showroom to buildout a one-person office that can be used by the consultants as they need.
Hire a full-time greeter to both answer your customers’ simple questions and act as a shield for your consultants during their focused time.
All in all, being a showroom consultant is a difficult job made harder by working in a department store business store model. Nordstrom sales people, do not have to send out quotes, research a floor tub filler that will compliment a certain special faucet design and ship in 4 weeks or follow up on a $100k job quote.
I speak from experience, moving your showroom consultants’ work station out of the showroom space will both improve their attitude and increase their numbers. And those are good things.
If you would like to discuss this strategy in more depth, please reach out to me on LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreyvalles/.