2009 Showrooms Of The Year
Wow! What a huge project this was! So much work and so much fun! We have diligently read and reviewed all of the nominations. Every single entry was beautifully done and everyone is a winner in their own right. But - and this was the hard part - we had to select what we considered to be the best of the best!
The number of entries was down from 2008, but the quality was way up. I am so impressed to see what many of you wholesalers are doing with your showroom businesses. I’ve been beating the showroom drum for a bunch of years and it sure makes this old showroom guru feel good to see so many of you starting to take this part of your business much more seriously.
So without further ado, here are the winners of the 2009 Showroom of the Year contest:
THE FIXTURE GALLERY
at Consolidated Supply Co.
DAVIS AND WARSHOW
58th Street location
New York, NY
SIERRA PLUMBING SUPPLY
Grass Valley, CA
I will write an article on each winning company beginning with this issue and continuing in the November and December issues of Supply House Times.
The co-winners in the 2,500 - 9,999 sq. ft. category both have beautifully done displays and exceeded expectations in all categories. However, both are very different in how they market their showrooms. The Fixture Gallery markets primarily to consumers (although approximately 60% of their sales is plumber driven) and Davis and Warshow markets mainly to the trades: architects and designers. I’ll elaborate in the articles about each of them.
The Fixture Gallery by Consolidated SupplyThis month let’s take a closer look at The Fixture Gallery. These folks submitted entry forms for three of their showrooms: Tigard, OR, Salem, OR, and Pacific, WA. All three showrooms have a similar build out and the marketing, training, merchandising and customer service is consistently well done in each location. We selected the Tigard showroom as the winner mainly because it is the flagship of their 11 showrooms. All new things are rolled out here first.
Consolidated Supply is an 81-year-young business and is family-owned and operated. Members of the fourth generation are leading the business today. They are ranked No. 37 in the Supply House Times Premier 150! The company operates 18 branches and does business in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Hawaii. My wife Carol and I just completed a two-week driving vacation through the three states in the Northwest and it was absolutely beautiful (and yes, a tad quicker and easier than riding my bicycle)!
Consolidated Supply employs 280 folks, of which 20 work in the showrooms. The company markets and sells plumbing, hydronic heating and waterworks products. I’m impressed by the company’s mission statement: “We take pride in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
The nomination form for Showroom of the Year asked for specifics in several areas. (Unfortunately, several of this year’s entries did not fill in all the blanks and it caused them to be disqualified.) Following are some of the great things The Fixture Gallery is doing in specific areas, and more.
TrainingAll showroom sales staff participate in the ASA “Essentials of Profitable Showroom Sales” program. This is a great program and I’d encourage all of you to take advantage of it.
All sales staff also complete the following:
All of the ASA educational programs are sponsored by the ASA Education Foundation which was started by Karl E. Neupert, president of Consolidated Supply until 2002 when he passed away. He was the vision behind the Foundation and the champion fundraiser.
All sales employees are taught how to sell a “multi-generational market.” This is more important today than ever before.
Like most of you, they do regularly scheduled product knowledge training. But unlike most of you, they require the vendor rep to submit a training outline and follow-up test two weeks prior to the meeting.
The company has a formal New Employee Orientation program and this is followed by “the first five days” of training.
Sales staff visit several different manufacturer plants and participate in an in-house training program. For each training step that is successfully completed the employee earns “performance credits.” These points are used to “purchase” Consolidated Supply performance gear. The company has created a detailed spreadsheet that lists every training item available and it is used to check off each item as they are completed.
I have seen and participated in a number of showroom training programs for wholesalers, and this is the most comprehensive and thorough I’ve seen! Great job!
MarketingThe showroom markets “green” in several ways:
1. They do a “Green Night Event” - where they invite people to come into the showroom to learn about “green” products and practices.
2. They put a paper green leaf on all green products on display. The leaf has “I help the environment,” “I am green,” and “Meets EPA criteria” printed on it.
Other marketing practices employed by the showroom include hosting product training events for the tradespeople who can earn CEUs and using a series of DPHA post cards and flyers to promote products and services.
They offer the biggest selection of handouts that I’ve ever seen, including: boutique soaps nicely wrapped with a ribbon and a business card attached; a very nice purse-size compact mirror; pens, ruler, bottled water, napkins and glass coffee mugs with their name and logo; a plastic bag with name and logo to carry away purchased products; thank you notes, and more.
Consolidated Supply and their showrooms are members of a number of local and national trade organizations including DPHA, NKBA, NARI, Home Builders, ASID and NWSID and they are a sponsor of “The Tour of Remodeled Homes.”
They’re active in community outreach programs and they encourage employees to volunteer time helping others.
Where permissible they use large A-Frame type signs that read “Decorative Plumbing Showroom.” These are placed so passing traffic can read them.
They advertise in several home-type magazines.
The company has six unique service guarantees:
1. “We Guarantee Extraordinary Service” (and back it up)
2. “Never Out of Stock Products” (on their published service guarantee products list)
3. “Will Call Orders Ready” (for pick-up at the mutually agreed upon time)
4. “Return Goods Instant Credit” (when resellable stock products are returned)
5. “Order Accuracy” (the customer gets what they ordered)
6. “Timeliness of Delivery” (they will deliver the order at the mutually agreed upon time)
If they do not meet any one of the above service guarantees, the customer receives a $25 Service Guarantee Credit.
Showroom hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
MerchandisingThe showroom is beautifully accessorized. The display areas truly do feel like “home.”
The brand throughout the showroom - and all marketing - is The Fixture Gallery, not the various fine vendor partners that they represent.
There are a number of working displays (too many to list).
Showroom salespeople are paid a salary plus a shared bonus. Every month a “bonus pot” is created based on the total showroom sales and gross profit, then the pot is divided between the salespeople. They also do product spiffs which go into the pot and are distributed.
The Tigard showroom employs one “outside” salesperson who calls on tradespeople and will also work in the showroom with customers.
I’ve been involved with showrooms for almost 30 years and developed some pretty strong proven opinions on what works and doesn’t work. The Fixture Gallery comes as close to the “perfectly” operated showroom as any that I’ve seen. Congratulations to Judie Eaton, the corporate showroom manager; her entire staff of showroom employees; and everyone at Consolidated Supply for being a co-winner of the 2009 Showroom of the Year Award.