I visit a lot of cabinet and closet showrooms. Take an average of 4 showrooms a week x 50 weeks x 20 years of traveling and I come up with 4,000 showrooms. That’s a lot of cabinet and closet showrooms.

I have found that kitchen dealers and closet retailers have good showrooms, but as a general rule the cabinet, furniture and closet manufacturers’ showrooms suck.

Why is that? What is it about a manufacturing site that creates horrible showrooms?

Now before you get all upset and start sending me flaming arrows of email rage, I realize I am stereotyping and generalizing to make a point. There are great showrooms run by manufacturers. Autumn Woods in Metro Chicago and Daz Holz Haus of Arthur, IL, are excellent examples of phenomenal showrooms tied in with manufacturing facilities. But unfortunately a good portion of the others I've seen really, sadly, suck.

Why It Matters
The showroom is the first impression on a potential customer. Kevin Henry of Group 42 Design says it well. "A showroom is a tool, 'the quite salesman,' as my mentor use to say. Large or small, a showroom should be a focused environment that evokes an emotional response upon first encounter. An atmosphere that speaks to the client’s heart, while at the same time assisting in the sale of the project. The showroom should attract attention; illustrate what you have to offer, qualify the client all in a real-world environment.”

If the client's first impression of your work is that you are dirty, disorganized, poorly lit and old, you will spend your first minutes defending the business instead of building it. We all know we cannot to turn off any potential new business, and yet our showrooms often suck.

Take the Test
Here is a quick test to see if your showroom qualifies for the Dyson Vacuum Award.

1. Do you apologize for your showroom when you first meet your customer?

2. Do you blow off dust when grabbing literature?

3. Are the cabinets empty boxes?

4. Are any of the product displays missing hardware or have non-functioning accessories?

5. Is any item in the showroom older than a kindergartner?

6. Is the lighting from ceiling fluorescents or halogen pucks?

7. Does the book Charlottes’ Web come to mind?

8. Do you ever find people walking around your showroom that you didn’t know were there?

9. Are the cabinets and drawers filled with laminate chains and solid surface samples?

10. Has someone written: “Wash Me” in the dust?

Next time we’ll talk about what makes a great showroom. If you’ve got more ideas for candidates for the “Does Your Showroom Suck,” just drop them in the comments section at the bottom of this blog or send them to info@woodworkingnetwork.com.

Editor's note: Rick Hill is a consultant specializing in woodworking companies that need to find new markets and more sales. He is also an independent sales rep and founder of WoodReps.Com, a national association of independent reps in the woodworking industry. He can be reached through his website OnPointSales.com.

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