The plumbing supply industry and our showrooms, as well as many re-distribution businesses, are run ERP systems that are based on the IBM AS/400 or DOS. Both originated in the 1980s. We are an industry that looks to shave pennies to scale and limit our operational invest. We live by “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and so we have gone for a millennia. But, the possibility of having a knowledgable consultant in our pocket might just change the way we employ computers in all facets of business.
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.
COVID-19 may remain in the news but it did not stop people from attending the 2023 KBIS/IDS show in Las Vegas. In fact, early estimates set the attendance in excess of 100,000 enthusiasts. Now that’s a show!
In the year 2023, we know we must include a finish on every faucet from any vendor. The same as when we order an automobile, chair or lighting. Adding colors to any piece makes it special and in many instances the color is more important than any other look that product offers.
Color is so important and so individual, that a red indoor paint search on Sherwin - Williams' website delivers more than 140 related colors.
With all of the goings on over the last two years, many of us have lost sight of our customer base undergoing a significant change. Baby Boomers have moved into the background as Millennials are entering their prime earning time and make up a significant portion of decorative plumbing showrooms' professional and homeowner customers.
When I open the ballroom door and enter the 2022 DPHA conference, the booths catch my eye but I am looking for familiar industry wide faces and those new personalities that i do not know. The DPHA conference is all about the decorative plumbing and hardware, period. It presents me with the opportunity to see new products from decorative plumbing and hardware focused vendors, industry relevant education sessions and opportunities to interact with the people that manage and own DPHA businesses.
As an owner or manager, your laser focus is on each vendor’s profit and, mistakenly, assume that your salespeople share your bottom-line focus. I suggest you are focusing on the deliverables, and they are involved in the process, the sales process. In most cases, you will not be able to move your salespeople to your side of this question by simply showing them the money. The way to move them is to show them how these HVVs will fuel their desire to be a great showroom salesperson.
When a product niche reaches this level of performance consistency, most manufacturers gravitate toward the same basic product platform. Is a faucet from vendor A really that much different than one from vendors B, C or D?
I have been back on the road for a while and have just returned from another week-long tour. I would like to report that the decorative plumbing showroom world remains vibrant and as diverse as ever. The question that I am most asked is: How are showrooms and customers reacting to COVID-19 in their business practices in 2022?
During my 2022 travels, I have noticed one combined practice that both delights and concerns me. Many salespeople and trade professionals have consciously sped up their product selection process by condensing the sales/selection process.