When Neal Balter started California Closets over 25 years ago, the idea of organized closets was a new concept.

Think about it. When Laura Ingalls was living in her little house on the prairie, she had a couple of hooks for the one or two dresses that she owned. But those hooks eventually evolved to closet space with a shelf and a rod.

And that, in turn, evolved into wire and melamine closets systems with color choices of white, beige and black. Now we have unlimited options and design is driving the growth of this industry.

Let me repeat that.

Design is driving the growth of the industry. Almost nothing excites me more!

And the opportunities to share that excitement, along with my experiences in designing custom storage solutions, are ones I “relish.”

So presenting to the sales and design team at Closet America in Lanham, MD, in conjunction with my latest book “How To Design A Walk In Closet” (https://gumroad.com/l/dTHQ), was a fun, shared experience.

And since you weren’t able to attend this special session, here are a few of the top design-driven insights I shared with the group:

•You, as the designer, are the expert, regardless of how many Houzz ideabooks they’ve created. Take ownership of that. Guide them through the process like you are Obi-Wan Kenobi.

•Price is not the most important issue. I’m not saying it’s a free-for-all with no budget or concern for the financial investment. I’m saying that with a combination product/service like a custom closet, factors like trust and expertise are integral.

•Use blue tape and your body as the top two tools to demonstrate spatial issues. The combination works like a charm for your customers.

•Get your camera/phone out of your bag and into your hands. Take pics and videos of obstacles. Talk through the obstacles and show the tape measure or angle finder in a photo. This makes for incredible communication between the shop, the installers and you, the designer.

•Embrace the concept that you’re in the referral business. Don’t rely on “the office” to give you a continuous stream of leads. You need to do a memorable enough job that you become part of that entire extended family and friends network. Your sales will increase, profits will increase and your personal happiness level will sky rocket.

•Become a “Social Designer.” By that I mean that if you embrace and engage on platforms that can bring you business, they will, in fact, do just that. Posting pics of your work and engaging with colleagues about design issues in groups on LinkedIn will help you become better at problem solving and designing custom storage solutions. It reminds people of what you do and can encourage them to share your work with the people in their networks. There’s no greater compliment these days than sharing someone else’s content. Yet most people don’t do that. So embrace social and become a “giver.” It will come back to you 100 times over.

Register for CCCE Now!If you’d like to get a few more specific design tips about closets — you can find them at my site. I’m very social. Very giving.


Denise Butchko is a design and marketing expert who teaches these concepts with the intention of helping people grow their businesses. See her speak at the 2015 Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo.

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