Attendees could sit in on business-improving workshops, network with peers and view products up close at Network ’06 and ISH North America, both of which met in Chicago in late September.

Showroom consultantDavid Lyonspoke about “Getting The Most From Your Showroom Sales” at Network ’06 in Chicago Sept. 26-30.

Here are some of the highlights of his presentation:
  • By moving their showrooms into the retail arena, wholesalers can aspire to margins as high as 52% vs. the average of 29% or less for wholesale.
  • Don’t ask customers to make an appointment to talk with you. 
  • Don’t have your wife, showroom manager or a manufacturer design your showroom. Find a professional designer. 
  • Have someone at the entrance to greet customers. 
  • Group products together for ease of sale. Put accessories next to the faucet department. 
  • Create a luxury bathroom vignette featuring your most high-end products. 
  • Include working displays. 
  • Install a working kitchen. Invite local designers or architects to schedule a meeting in your showroom. Offer coffee or cold drinks to customers. Bring in a local chef to prepare a meal in your kitchen and entertain customers. 
  • Scatter your salespeople throughout the store so there is always someone nearby to help customers. 
  • Create a play area for children, but be careful about safety and liability. 
  • Offer tile and stone. Margins can run from 46% to 52%. You don’t have to stock it or handle it. It is drop-shipped 90% of the time. This is art tile, not what is sold at big-box stores. Use tile and stone throughout the showroom. 
  • The public bathroom in the showroom also functions as a selling room, inspiring customers. 
  • Keep track of dollars per square foot. Don’t be afraid to discontinue something that is not selling. 
  • Display wall-mounted lav faucets with vessels. 
  • Post prices - you can use the manufacturer’s list price. 
  • Do not post the manufacturer’s model numbers. 
  • Instead of using modular display units from a manufacturer, create your own, featuring your name or logo. 
  • Consider selling fireplace surrounds; steam units; soap dispensers; towel bars; linens, towels and other soft goods; decorative P traps; and have tankless water heaters hooked up in the showroom. 
  • Provide training for your salespeople. Send them to plant tours and training events offered by suppliers. 
  • Rather than depending on advertising created by a manufacturer that features your company along with others, hire a creative advertising and marketing person in the community to develop your own image. 
  • Direct mail postcards sent to a targeted group of consumers are not expensive but can reap rewards. Target a specific zip code and income bracket. 
  • If a customer found a lower price on the Internet, let them walk away. 
  • Try to get publicity about your showroom in trade publications, consumer magazines and local media. 
  • Arrange for manufacturers reps to visit the showroom by appointment only. Schedule a sales meeting and invite them to train your entire staff. 
  • Pay the salespeople with a commission structure based on net margin. Help them achieve performance goals.

Troy Campbell, senior consultant with The Center For Generational Studies, a sociological research firm, discussed employment issues in a workshop at Network ’06.

Here are some key points from his presentation:
  • Remove “Help Wanted,” “Positions Available,” and “Accepting Applications” messages from your recruiting promotions. Start fresh with value messages.
  • Employee referral programs executed with enthusiasm will eliminate the need for most other recruiting efforts. The keys to success are cash, celebration and constant reminders.
  • Five rules for employee referral programs: employees should be told to only recommend a person who will uphold the company’s mission and values; put the job description in writing; have a recruitment brochure available to employees; encourage the referring employee to be a mentor to the new staffer; offer cash incentives to employees.
  • Money is a sustainer, not a retainer or motivator. Flexibility in scheduling tops the list of employee needs. The work environment wins over wages.

Harvey P. Wasserman, director of marketing services at Omni Corporate Services Ltd., was incorrectly identified in the Network ‘06/ISH North America feature story on page 47 in the November issue of Supply House Times. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

As Seen At ISH North America

At the Canfield Technologies booth:  (L to R) Manufacturers reps Ed and Phil Kornstein; Bob McIntire, president/general manager; Ben Odom, Kaydon group controller; and Vinnie Kotowski, sales manager.

The Mill-Rose Co. won first prize for its All Purpose Pressure TesterTM in the Tools & Equipment category of the New Product Showcase at ISH North America.  Designed to test line pressure in a broad range of applications by accepting different size NPT male fittings, it can be used to test gas and oxygen lines, potable water lines, DWV and HVAC lines, utility lines, hydraulic lines, sprinkler systems and high-pressure steam.

Lochinvar® Corp. introduced the KNIGHT™ heating boiler that features a “SMART SYSTEM” control with “Pocket PC” software that assists set up and programming of units and provides trend analysis.

State Industries provided the cash prizes for the top three contestants in the PHCC’s International Apprenticeship Contest held onsite at ISH North America. They were Christopher Platner of L.N. Piccianno, Thom Allen of Gateway Mechanical and Matthew Nickelson of Gotelli Plumbing.

BrassCraft offers the Safety+PLUS® meter excess flow valve to protect a home’s piping system from the meter to the appliance stub-out, averting the potential for a hazardous buildup of gas in the residence. When combined with BrassCraft’s coated large diameter stainless steel gas connector, it provides automatic gas safety protection for large residential and commercial gas appliances.

On the show floor: (L to R) Raymond Zoeller and Mike Babrowski of Zoeller Pump Co. with Scott Franz, Supply House Times’ publisher.