Accent Lighting, Lake Oswego, OR
Accent Lighting’s approach to success is deceptively simple: It does everything in its power to make sure customers have the best possible experience doing business with the 17-year-old company. From its tagline (“Your source for lighting design”) to its expert staff, Accent Lighting is a leader in its market. Even homebuilders and interior designers who have a great deal of lighting information turn to Accent Lighting for advice and support.
Knowledge about lighting and emerging lighting technology is crucial to Accent Lighting’s operation. From the owner to warehouse workers, everyone has some amount of American Lighting Assn. (ALA) training. Being the only lighting showroom in the state with Certified Lighting Consultants (CLC®s) on staff is a point of pride and differentiation. Greeting all customers with a warm hello is a small but important means of letting them know they are valued and appreciated.
Located in one of Portland’s most exclusive suburbs, Accent Lighting’s 4,200-square-foot showroom features more than 300 lines, giving the company the range to specify large commercial projects and the ability to find that one perfect fixture for a homeowner. Displays are changed frequently. Hang tags call attention to American-made products. Naturally, the showroom carries commodity items, but they are kept out of sight, reserving precious display space for better goods, including fixtures created by local artisans and frankly over-the-top designs. Management knows these image items might not necessarily sell frequently, but they are considered an advertising investment and something people will remember.
An unusual display that got a lot of attention featured owner Bob Warmbold’s special edition black Harley Davidson motorcycle parked below an array of crystal chandeliers. Motion sensors on the fixtures created an unforgettable light show whenever a customer came close. As the company’s entry statement asked, “What’s wrong with Swarovski in a man cave?” Apparently, nothing; the company’s crystal sales soared thanks to the innovative presentation.
Deco Luminaire, Brossard, QC
Open for business less than one year, Deco Luminaire is situated in Montreal’s distinctive Dix30 shopping district, a 2.7 million-square-foot area deemed Canada’s largest lifestyle center. The 9,000-square-foot lighting showroom is as unique and exciting as the greater surroundings, starting with a giant showcase window out front that gives passersby a good look at the clean, open layout that lies within.
Positioned to be Quebec’s leader in lighting and interior decorating, the Deco Luminaire showroom was designed to surprise and delight customers. Just beyond the entrance, a glass service desk is lighted from below with sparkling LEDs. Along the walls, well-appointed vignette displays create the sense of being in a real home. Above, an open grid system is positioned below a shiny black ceramic ceiling, allowing the many fixtures hung there to beam light in multiple directions. The effect is airy, modern and dramatic.
Once inside, customers are made to feel like they are at home. Every detail counts. “Making the consumer satisfied from beginning to end is our mission,” the company’s entry statement says. “We try to listen to what our clients are looking for, and adapt as best as possible to their desires and needs.”
The sense of teamwork in the store is strong, due in part to the fact that the staff was involved in the showroom’s development from the start. It all had to come together in just a few months. Everyone put his or her heart and soul into the process to ensure the store was in perfect shape for its opening day. “To open a lighting store of this magnitude in so little time is an accomplishment in itself,” the entry statement explains.
Passionate about what they do, staffers are dedicated to helping customers select the right lighting for their homes. Displays inspire, educate and inform. Plasma screens in six different manufacturer galleries provide easy reference to the vendor’s entire catalog. Opaque curtains can be drawn around each gallery to give customers an isolated view of the display fixtures and to experience the actual lighting effect the fixture will create once installed.
Elume Distinctive Lighting, Park City, UT
Elume Distinctive Lighting is a small but savvy retailer located in one of America’s most popular tourist destinations. Formerly known as Prospector Lighting Supply, the company re-opened as Elume in 2011. Nestled in the quaint Park City neighborhood of Pinebrook, the chic, contemporary store defies the rustic stereotype of its mountain’s edge location.
Personal service is a trademark of the nearly 1,800-square-foot operation. “Lighting creates an experience for the occupants of a room, and we want to make the entire process, from selection to illumination, a personalized process,” says the company’s entry statement. Building customer relationships is an imperative that has allowed Elume to grow and thrive. The staff is warm and friendly, and coffee, snacks and beverages are on hand for those who stop by to shop — or just say hello.
Building long-term relationships extends to community involvement, including membership in such groups as the Park City Chamber of Commerce and the Park City Women’s Business Network. Elume has joined national groups relevant to its business and clients, too. Interior designers are a key segment for Elume, and these customers frequently attend industry meetings alongside company staffers.
Maintaining an exciting store environment is another way Elume shows its commitment to its clients. There is always something interesting to see in the way of new products and thoughtfully crafted displays. When an item sells, it is replaced with something new. That way, the showroom always looks fresh, even to Elume’s regular customers.
A tiered shelf structure visible from the entrance is a new display that flaunts the showroom’s portables. It’s positioned close to the refreshment bar and creates a cozy sitting area. A large-screen mirror/television combination will enable staff to peruse vendor websites and customer’s online portfolios while they are in the showroom. It all adds up to customer excitement. Elume staffers feel their own passion for lighting is infectious!
Illuminations by Design, Littleton, CO
”Typical” is not an adjective one would use to describe Illuminations by Design, a 6,000-square-foot showroom with a 4,000-square-foot warehouse that’s been in business for nearly 10 years. Located away from major shopping areas, the showroom is a destination store. It’s also one of the few lighting retailers with a beagle on staff. His name is Sparky, a charming little fellow who sits by happily as customers sip their freshly brewed Starbucks coffee and work out lighting solutions with the experts.
Less than 5 percent of Illuminations by Design’s total sales come from stock goods. Since the majority of items sold are custom-ordered, a substantial amount of effort is required to source designs and communicate with customers to ensure they will get exactly what they want.
Over the past six months, the showroom has undergone extensive renovation. Some of the space was transformed into a showroom presentation designed to feel like an art gallery. The new space features just 25 fixtures surrounded by a stark white background. Each is chosen to represent the best products introduced at the Dallas Market. The presentation encourages shoppers to stop and look at each design. It’s just another way the showroom creates a positive experience for its customers.
Serving customers is something Illuminations by Design is known for. The salespeople are not paid a commission, which prevents a “my customer” mentality and builds team spirit. No one leaves the showroom feeling like they were being “upsold” just to help a salesperson make more money. Furthermore, it is company policy that all sales associates truly listen to what the customer is saying. Over the years, the company has earned a reputation for in-depth lighting expertise and a willingness to take on projects no other competitor wants to do. The staff will jump through hoops to make a customer happy, even if it is someone who just wants a single piece of glass or a small spare part. That attitude has earned the company many loyal customers, who eagerly tell their friends about their positive experiences.
Doing business in Houston’s tony Galleria area has its ups and downs for a small new lighting showroom business like LIGHT. Competition abounds, and many of the other showrooms have been around for a long time. Nevertheless, this chic 5,500-square-foot operation is making a name for itself as a specialty lighting store offering a wide variety of high-end contemporary fixtures and portables from some of the world’s top design houses. A real feather in its cap is being a stocking dealer for Kartell, one of only three in the area — and the other two are furniture stores. Going the extra mile to please has earned LIGHT praise and loyal customers. As the company’s entry statement says, “We take customer satisfaction seriously, and it shows.”
From driving out to job sites or making in-home visits to ordering fixtures as samples for customers to ”try out” without penalty upon return, the showroom does everything it can to make sure it is providing superior service. A professional interior designer and electrician are on staff. Despite the fact that there are just a few employees, the team always gets the job done thanks to its range of talents and specialties.
Merchandising within the showroom is deliberately minimal and clutter-free. White pedestals and white tables against white walls create a gallery-type setting that makes each design a standout. Platforms in the front windows display eye-catching furniture and lighting vignettes. The Kartell area features floating floor-to-ceiling glass shelves suspended by aircraft cable. Furniture, lamps and other decorative accessories look all the more important presented on this dramatic display. A lighted glass platform just in front of the shelves displays additional Kartell furniture.
Word-of-mouth advertising has been very beneficial, spurred on by social media and write-ups in local design magazines. On its Facebook page, LIGHT has created a virtual showroom with everything it has to offer in the store. Customers can browse through albums featuring fixtures on display in the showroom as well as completed projects.
Living Lighting on King, Toronto
From the pervasive “chill/lounge” music it uses as background ambience to its location in one of Toronto’s hottest neighborhoods, many aspects about Living Lighting on King are unconventional. So it is not surprising that the company embarked on an equally unconventional training program this past year. Since it opened for business four years ago, the approach to educating employees used all the standard practices, including product knowledge sessions with reps and lighting seminars. When employees asked owner Jodie Orange to help them learn “what was in her brain,” it presented an opportunity to teach them to think more creatively, go out of the box and push limits.
It was also a chance to improve their ability to communicate with customers by engaging them in open conversations. Today, everyone on the staff is referred to as a Lighting Ninja, a unique designation in the wide world of lighting retailing.
In 2012, Living Lighting on King was a Showroom of the Year Award winner for Most Significant Accomplishment. The showroom also received another award, for Best Booth Design at the 2012 Toronto Interior Design Show. Designed by Orange, the small booth gave just a hint of what can be found in the loft-style showroom. The store’s merchandise displays, designed by Orange herself, are built around themes and stories. The staff has become accustomed to Orange coming in with boxes of old bicycle parts, tree branches and finds from a favorite junkyard. They know these unusual materials will become part of dramatic displays that immediately let customers know they are in the right place. Even the company’s Christmas tree was truly original, hanging upside down from the ceiling a few feet from the front door.
Out-of-the-ordinary displays and award-winning trade show booths help Living Lighting on King get enormous coverage on the internet. The award-winning booth was all over Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook — and several bloggers included the company in their reviews. The company website helps tie it all together, providing an easy connection point and a great way to explore the showroom’s sensational product selection.
Marchand Lighting + Electrical, Ottawa, ON
As the world of lighting seems to grow bigger and more complicated, people in Ontario’s capital city flock to Marchand Lighting + Electrical. Now owned and operated by a fourth generation, the company has been in business for more than 120 years. In 2011, Marchand opened a 3,000-square-foot location on Ottawa’s west side that serves homeowners, interior designers, architects, electrical contractors and commercial builders. The business has been successful all these years because of its staff’s unmatched knowledge of lighting for home and commercial spaces. Marchand makes sure sales associates are kept abreast of the latest technology and product developments.
Marchand is famous for working closely with each type of customer and coming up with a perfect balance of inspired design and practical thinking. Over the years, Marchand has become known for its “Easy as 1-2-3” process used with all clients. Step one: Define the client’s style through an in-store tour or on-site visit. Step two: Prepare a competitive quote with a detailed cut sheet and images. Step three: Order with efficiency and proper room labeling, with free delivery throughout the greater Ottawa area.
While Marchand is a thoroughly modern operation, now and then old-fashioned ideas — like lunch-and-learn barbecues and open house evenings at the store — work like a charm to win over customers again and again.
A professionally designed website, revamped in 2011, and an active Facebook page keep Marchand customers in the know. Connecting to Marchand online, they can find discount product coupons, news about upcoming store events, images of new products and more. The company regularly publishes customer-submitted photos of recently completed projects. Conventional media buys are made thoughtfully and with purpose. Magazine advertising is used to enhance Marchand’s expert image. Radio spots are run to generate immediate results before sales events. Television ads accomplish both.
Metro Lighting, Berkeley, CA
Metro Lighting is breaking new ground in lighting showroom operations. With an eye on moving the world toward a zero-waste culture, the 6,500-square-foot showroom creates sustainable lighting fixtures that are handcrafted in its own design-build studios in California and Oregon.
Powered exclusively by solar energy, Metro is a certified “green” business that incorporates sustainable design and energy-efficient options wherever possible. Many of the fixtures it creates and sells are made with recycled materials and energy-efficient light sources. “Our goal is to shift the lighting industry away from disposable products made by disposable labor overseas to sustainable lighting made by skilled artisans in the United States,” Metro’s entry statement explains. Metro’s community involvement is central to its business plan. The company belongs to organizations such as Buy Local Berkeley, the Sustainable Business Alliance and the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.
Within the past year, owner Lawrence Grown organized a coalition of 10 nearby home improvement retailers to form the West Berkeley Design Loop. Supported by funding from Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development, the group hired a branding firm to develop a name, logo and tagline for its business district.
Meanwhile, back at the showroom, Metro’s merchandising is as creative as the products themselves. Room-size alcoves that open onto a larger central space provide much-needed display walls. Perforated soffits make it easy to hang ceiling fixtures. Sconces are hung on custom cabinets. About 200 glass shades are presented on 10 metal and wood shelving units. An interactive display allows customers to try out combinations of glass holders, glass shades and light sources. Window displays facing busy San Pablo Avenue are works of art.
People are noticing; Metro has developed a database of 2,300 contact names and has increased its Facebook “likes” from 75 to 525 in the past year. A new e-commerce website launched in April includes case studies and links to Facebook, Pinterest and Yelp.
Timberlake Lighting, Charlottesville, VA
By living up to its credo of offering distinctive and unique lighting for every style and budget, Timberlake Lighting has become the “go-to” lighting showroom in historic Charlottesville and beyond. When someone walks into the 3,500-square-foot showroom, the first thing that comes into view is a unique array of lighting that includes designs not available anywhere else in the local area. The goal is to give the customer a pleasant experience from start to finish, and thoughtful merchandising is just one way the showroom delivers on that promise. “We are not trying to pack as many fixtures as we possibly can into the space,” according to the company’s entry statement.
“We find that too many fixtures right up against each other can be distracting, confusing and can overwhelm the customer.”
Giving residential and commercial clients the best possible service is another way Timberlake stands out; employees go to great lengths to satisfy customers. To compete with online lighting sellers more effectively, the company refined some of its retail policies. Timberlake now offers free shipping and doesn’t charge a re-stocking fee for returned merchandise. That’s a risk for a small company to take, but reflects management’s confidence in employees’ ability to help customers choose the right fixture. In fact, there are very few returns — and many satisfied customers.
Timberlake recently updated its showroom, adding an area outside the building that captures landscape lighting’s magic. The area helps sell product around the clock, as it can be seen anytime customers drive by the showroom.
Relatively new to the Charlottesville market, Timberlake has used a variety of marketing methods to establish its brand. The company’s appealing logo incorporates yellow and black Labrador retrievers (one holding a lantern in its mouth); it’s meant to reflect the showroom’s friendly, welcoming personality. Real Labs appear in a 30-second television spot that has gone a long way to raise public awareness. The canines will soon be starring in a TV commercial now in production featuring Timberlake’s new landscape area.
Williams Lighting Galleries, Salem, VA
A division of Williams Supply Inc., Williams Lighting Galleries is an employee-owned company that has been in business since 1946. The 4,500-square-foot showroom in Salem opened in 1999 and has been merchandised to provide the best selection of lighting within a 100-mile radius. The showroom’s $500,000 inventory covers lines from more than 100 lighting manufacturers, as well as a wide assortment of decorative accessories, rugs and portables. With a strong commitment to service, each employee always goes the extra mile to build strong customer relationships. In the past year, offering extended Saturday hours, staying open on holidays and an expanded merchandise selection are just some ways the company has won over customers.
Employee training sessions take place every Tuesday, running the gamut from vendor product seminars, website training, industry updates and more. For every training session they complete, live or online, employees receive $5 in “Willie Bucks” that can be used to buy shirts, jackets and other company-branded merchandise.
Giving back to the community at large is something of a specialty at William Lighting Galleries, too. The company donates products and gift certificates to a variety of charities. The showroom helps Toys for Tots by collecting donations all year long and by participating in the Marine Mud Run, an event that also supports that organization. Employees also participated in Tug for Tots, which raises money to buy health insurance for underprivileged children.
Williams Lighting Galleries has a Creative Director on staff who oversees its television spots and print ads in The Roanoker, a popular local lifestyle magazine. The company recently hired an Online Marketing Manager. This specialist has ramped up its social media efforts on Facebook, which is used to promote sale events and remind the public the showroom sells home furnishings in addition to lighting. An e-commerce website launched in early 2013 is now accessible in the showroom as well.