It’s not uncommon for customers to traipse through the employees’ break room at Brooklyn Park, MN’s Lights on Broadway. Though many will get an offer to sample lunches as they pass through, they’re there to check out the operation’s newly renovated kitchen area, in which owners Muriel and Dwight Wirz have installed a vast range of task lighting.
“There isn’t a type of lighting we don’t have on display: under, above, in-cabinet,” Muriel Wirz says. “Everything from an ambience-type thing where you have to install cables and plug in the individual lamps all the way down to puck lights. We even installed linear lighting at our reception desk.”
The Wirzes are firm believers in showing rather than telling, especially when it comes to technical lighting applications.
“Our customers all have questions when they come in. They’re afraid of getting in over their heads,” Wirz says. “The fact that we have [technical applications] installed in a lot of places lets them see what it’s going to look like—how this wire comes through the edge of the cupboard and then runs along to the back, or that this is where the splice goes. You can show them, and they get it.”
The company’s track and recessed displays are similarly friendly, with grids lowered to 7 feet, so customers can pull down and examine the different elements. Two monorail flexible tracks are outfitted with a few heads for a stream-lined, realistic look, while the rest of the available heads are displayed on a separate track. All elements are priced with inconspicuous tape to eliminate “a bazillion [hanging] tags.”
And Lights on Broadway isn’t alone. At St. Louis’ Metro Lighting, even the warehouse is used as a demonstration area, with each row of shelves illuminated by a different kind of fluorescent lamping. Both showrooms also find it more profitable to eschew manufacturer-provided displays in favor of custom-designed boards.
“The displays aren’t what people look at,” Wirz says. “If we do buy enough product to earn a manufacturer's display, we take it, store it and put close-out product on it. And we paint them all black, so nothing looks mismatched.”
No matter what display and selling techniques are favored in a showroom, customers should be able to see and touch the range of lighting available. Lights On Broadway sales specialists take their customers through a whole “song and dance,” demonstrating that while halogen lights are hotter, they can be quieter than fluorescent lamps, and that puck lights, while certainly cheaper, do not provide the even light distribution of linear lighting.
Taking customers behind the scenes—or offering them a bite of your lunch—pays off in the end. “You can spend a million dollars in advertising,” Wirz says, “but when you make a customer feel like they’re part of your store, joke with them and show them the inner workings, that’s the kind of feeling that makes a sale.”