Cleveland Lighting, Lyndhurst, OH
After a fire destroyed its original showroom in 2009, Cleveland Lighting came back from the ashes with a facility that set a new standard for modern showroom design. Its ability to rebound and its vision of a new retail environment won the family-owned operation Showroom of the Year awards in 2010 and 2011. Cleveland Lighting remains a destination for customers who want to see the store up close and personal, but much of the excitement this past year happened behind the scenes in the area of online marketing.
Revamping the Cleveland Lighting brand with modern marketing tools has required letting go of tried-and-true business models, including the radio spots the showroom ran for years. A large percentage of the marketing budget was shifted from conventional to online media. Monthly search engine campaigns now boost website traffic and the company’s growing e-commerce business, while also driving store sales.
A small team handles the big job of managing the various components of the new marketing program. Knowing the actual number of hits, conversion rates and the like gives the company keen insight into shopping habits, what customers are searching for online and which items catch their eye. Being able to quickly change course in real time when a particular item or campaign is not gaining much traction is a huge advantage.
While seemingly less personal, the company’s new approach to marketing has also improved its ability to form relationships with new and existing customers, including those who live out of state or even in a different country. Monthly e-blasts keep customers connected and informed about Cleveland’s latest product introductions, sales and in-store events. These communications, plus the website, are building a large, loyal fan base for Cleveland Lighting and the impact is benefitting both sides of the business. Breaking the marketing mold is indicative of the company’s desire to be innovative and stay ahead of the curve. Yet some things never change; a motivated, dedicated staff continues to deliver the high level of customer service that made Cleveland Lighting what it is today.
Colonial Lighting, Sugar Hill, GA
From the day it opened its doors, providing excellent customer service has been a top priority at Colonial Lighting. The golden rule the company follows: Treat each customer the way you would want to be treated and get the job done right the first time. That credo has served Colonial Lighting well, earning this store the loyalty of many customers, and allowing it to grow and prosper.
Employee training is ongoing and six sales associates have earned ALA certification. Two are trained in interior design. The entire team is friendly, courteous and always willing to help, taking extra steps to prevent service issues. For example, each delivery is checked three times on paper before it leaves the showroom.
Walking through the 7,500-square-foot showroom, customers will find a wide array of lighting options and styles, including traditional, transitional and modern looks. There are many vignettes to see, each artfully arranged with lighting and accessories. Overhead fixtures are thoughtfully merchandised to enable customers to better see the product. As an example, a grouping of eight foyer fixtures was moved from a 16-foot-high ceiling to a 10-foot ceiling, bringing the lights down to eye level. The change drew positive comments from customers, who appreciated being able to take in the finish color, style and special details of these large-size lights.
Colonial Lighting is a one-stop shop, a source for not only lighting of all kinds but also fireplaces, garage doors, appliances and insulation. Outdoor living products are a relatively new addition, and the assortment includes items such as outdoor fans, grills, fountains, furniture — and lighting, of course. On the appliance side of the business, Colonial has expanded its offering with well-known brands including Viking, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, JennAir and Fhiaba, a high-end line from Italy. Colonial is the only retailer in the metro Atlanta market to carry Fhiaba’s luxury refrigeration products. Adding these categories has paid off handsomely; Colonial Lighting’s sales have grown by 50 percent in the past year.
Dulles Electric, Sterling, VA
Serving one of the wealthiest markets in the United States, Dulles Electric is the kind of lighting showroom where a $190,000 crystal chandelier really does not seem out of place.
In business since 1985, Dulles Electric operates an electric supply house and showroom that were relocated to the current location in Sterling, VA, in 2009. Immediately adjacent to the company’s massive electrical counter and 25,000-square-foot “green” warehouse, the 12,000-square-foot lighting showroom attracts customers from throughout the National Capital Region and beyond. Many travelers flying in and out of nearby Dulles Airport stop by and buy goods. Stocking basics as well as extravagant designs, the showroom truly can serve every taste and budget.
The showroom’s 3,000-square-foot Schonbek Gallery gives it bragging rights to the country’s largest selection of Schonbek lighting. The gallery is also a staging ground for Swarovski fixtures; Dulles is Swarovski’s sole dealer in the Mid-Atlantic. While not as large, the Hubbardton Forge Gallery also attracts homeowners and interior designers.
The company has worked hard to enhance its appeal to and relationships with the trade. Daytime classes that can earn interior designers and architects CEU credits are often held in the company’s own training room. An elegantly catered meal is always served on these occasions, just another way Dulles Electric expresses its appreciation to these esteemed clients. Last October, the company and Home & Design magazine co-hosted “Designer Night Gala,” a posh event in the showroom that provided cocktails, a fancy feast and a fabulous magician.
To serve its wide audience, Dulles Electric counts on its experienced, knowledgeable staff. With an average tenure of 15 years, the staff can help advise on design, selection and more. A fleet of trucks provides free delivery to the greater Washington, D.C., area. With a total facility that’s 50,000 square feet, the showroom is able to stock a huge inventory, another customer benefit appreciated by homeowners and professionals alike.
House of Lights and Home Accents, Melbourne, FL
Even in the face of change, House of Lights and Home Accents has retained its motivation and enthusiasm as one of the area’s oldest and largest lighting retailers. The company recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special sale that was promoted in ads — and on Facebook, a sign that an ”old” dog can truly learn new tricks.
Marketing itself as Central Florida’s premier home décor provider, House of Lights’ 10,000-square-foot showroom carries a wide selection of lighting, portables, home accents and ceiling fans. It’s a charter member of Lighting One, giving it the buying power of a larger operation. A new e-commerce option gives customers a look at
the showroom’s full complement of products in the convenience of their own home or business.
With a staff comprised of many individuals who have been part of the team for 20 years, House of Lights is able to service Melbourne’s residents with a high level of expertise. The staff can help customers make important decisions about their lighting, from where a fixture will be installed, how large or small it ought to be to suit that space and choosing the best materials for the area’s humid sub-tropical climate. Delivery and installation services are available. An on-site shop makes repairs to lamps and chandeliers of all shapes and sizes, including precious heirlooms.
Product knowledge sessions are consistent and ongoing. Like many showrooms in the country, House of Lights has been adding more LED lighting to its merchandise selection and has invested in additional staff training to help its associates better understand this emerging new technology. To help customers get a better grasp of LED illumination, the showroom erected an educational display that compares solid-state lighting options with traditional light sources. The goal is to show LED’s advantages and help soften the blow of the technology’s higher price tag. As it says on the company’s professionally produced website, “Our primary objective has always been to exceed the customer’s expectations in everything we do. Our passion for this business is visible in everything we do.”
The Lamp Outlet, Bono, AR
No other lighting showroom in the Mid-South region has a larger offering than The Lamp Outlet. The company also believes it has the region’s friendliest, most knowledgeable staff, too. Eager to please and armed with a vast amount of information and experience, The Lamp Outlet staff is able to assist the wide variety of customers who visit the showroom daily, from homeowners to interior designers to builders to tourists just passing through on their way to an Ozarks vacation. A destination showroom of sorts, The Lamp Outlet does business with homebuilders located far beyond the Arkansas border. To launch the company’s new commercial division, a specialist was hired to handle estimates.
The retail business is also strong, supported by 100 product vignettes in the showroom that express themes of quality and style. Always looking to be “on trend,” the company asks vendors to recommend new products for its displays. Coordinated lighting and accessories featured in the vignettes make easy work out of creating the desired look. Salespeople are on hand to help in any way possible. Thanks to years of experience and ongoing training, they are able to answer nearly every lighting question. The team is diverse; some are technical experts, while others are talented designers. A separate service team takes care of items that arrive damaged or prove to have defects. The team also handles installation problems.
For those who prefer to shop at home or are just too far to come into the store, The Lamp Outlet maintains a robust e-commerce website that ships orders within 14 days or fewer. Orders of $75 or more are shipped free. Defective items are replaced at no cost to the customer. The same policy extends to The Lamp Outlet’s close-out sale website.
An aggressive marketer, The Lamp Outlet also uses Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to remain in the public eye. Television commercials, radio spots and print ads convey sharp pricing, vast selection and friendly, expert service. Located off a major highway, The Lamp Outlet has had good success with billboards, which bring in customers from near and far.
Lighting Designs, Loveland, CO
The company name tells the story: Lighting Designs & More sells a wide array of lighting and much more, including landscape lighting, furniture, decorative accessories, central vacuum systems, whole-house dimming systems and home theater equipment.
Locally owned and operated for 18 years, the company has been in its current location since 2004. It is the largest lighting showroom for miles around. With 16,000 square feet of selling space, the showroom is spacious, capable of displaying lines from more than 200 manufacturers and five complete demonstration rooms.
Customers walking through the Lighting Designs showroom encounter a life-size kitchen, home theater, media room, dining room and a landscape lighting area, each fully appointed to mimic the real thing. Merchandise displays throughout the showroom are updated every Saturday morning before the doors open, giving customers a nice weekend surprise 52 times a year.
From basic lighting design packages to lighting an entire custom home indoors and out to handling commercial projects, Lighting Designs is known in its market as a bona fide lighting specialist. Owner Frank Gale is the only Certified Lighting Consultant (CLC®) in the area and is leading the way toward greater energy efficiency in both homes and commercial settings. Gale recently received Lutron’s coveted Radio RA2 Award for best residential and best commercial jobs of the year. He recently sent his staff to 15 military bases to help reduce each one’s energy consumption by 50 percent. The company is also known for its compassion, offering discounts and donations to local families affected by wildfires last summer.
Lighting Designs is a strong believer in connecting with customers on many levels. It sends gift cards to people who have applied for building permits, participates in home shows, sponsors fun in-store events such as Las Vegas Night and maintains a large electronic billboard. The company’s Facebook page has a lot of personality, complete with March Madness brackets, product photos and contests that encourage customers to post comments. The feedback is reviewed and synthesized to help Lighting Designs continue to improve all the more.
Northwest Lighting and Accents, Mount Prospect, IL
While most lighting showrooms worth their salt want to sell retail, commercial and trade customers, Northwest Lighting and Accents approaches these segments by analyzing and addressing the needs of each customer type.
The affiliate program, as one example, caters to interior designers, architects and builders. Benefits of taking part in the program include referral benefits and a personal login to the company website, where the professional can keep track of pricing and invoices. The program offers the use of a professionally designed office stocked with the latest lighting catalogs, a computer and telephone.
Going the extra mile seems to come naturally to Northwest Lighting and Accents, which has been in business for 13 lucky years. The two-story, 16,000-square-foot showroom has ample space to display a wide array of lighting, fans and accessories in a variety of styles and price points. Organized in sections by style and finish, the showroom is designed to make lighting selection easy.
In the past year, Northwest Lighting has focused on enhancing the customer service aspect of its business. The goal is to create the best possible experience for every customer, from the time he or she walks through the door to well after the project is complete. Feedback from online reviews, particularly any negative comments, was taken into account.
Customers said they were not being greeted fast enough, so a reception desk was positioned at the front entrance and staffed by customer service personnel who welcome and direct customers. A seating area furnished with designs customers can purchase turn the two-story entry into a cozy spot lighted by foyer fixtures. During busy hours, hand-held pagers let customers know when a salesperson is available. This has encouraged more browsing, which in turn has translated into more sales. The reception desk is now used for retail customer pick-ups rather than being the contractor counter. The pagers come in handy here, too, and are used to let people know their order is ready as they peruse the showroom.
Pace Lighting, Savannah, GA
This two-time Showroom of the Year Award winner believes its 18,500-square-foot showroom represents the future of all brick-and-mortar lighting showrooms. Intended to provide a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, Pace takes care to display each fixture on the ceiling or on a wall as it would be used in a real home setting. A lighting control system allows sales associates to isolate any fixture, helping customers envision its beauty and illumination. Displayed in themes or meaningful vignettes by room type, the 2,500 fixtures featured throughout the showroom can be appreciated individually, a vast departure from the “sea of fixtures” image of lighting showrooms in the past.
Even behind-the-scenes aspects of the business are leading-edge, from the free wireless internet service available throughout the store to the geothermal heating and cooling system. Priding itself on being the only full-service lighting showroom in southern Georgia and coastal South Carolina, Pace Lighting provides an integrated shopping experience. The company designs, selects product, installs and repairs fixtures of all types, and provides free delivery to homes and commercial job sites. From lamps and ballasts to decorative fixtures, smoke alarms and chimes, Pace has every lighting-related type of product, plus the know-how to help customers solve any lighting challenge.
This past year has been a time to re-group, re-focus and re-establish. Lower pricing went into effect in early 2013 to combat internet sellers. A super-discounted Close-Out Corner moves aging inventory quickly. The company dropped the words “Designer Showroom,” rebranding itself simply Pace Lighting, to remove any impression its goods were strictly high-priced.
The moves seem to be working; Pace Lighting feels it has emerged from the recession ready to grow and prosper as the market returns to normal levels. Sales have increased 18 percent, enough to move the company into a higher Showroom of the Year dollar-volume category. The turnaround has brought new energy and vigor to the entire staff, which in turn will surely continue to help the business grow.
Passion Lighting, Grapevine, TX
Winner of the 2012 Showroom of the Year Award in this category, Passion Lighting entered again this year with news on a number of fronts. Yet the 9,000-square-foot showroom’s “passion for everything lighting” is firmly in place, reflected in a vast product selection, innovative displays, creative marketing and sales professionals who are talented, enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable.
Finding new and creative ways to expose the company to new customers while meeting the needs of existing customers is a daily mission for the people of Passion Lighting. This year, the company is implementing the most comprehensive marketing plan in its six-year history. With funds that represent a 50 percent increase over last year’s marketing budget, Passion Lighting is investing in Web communications, print advertising, signage, online videos and events. Already it has started to use Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest and Houzz, with a goal to boost its e-mail database by 100 percent over the next year or so. Traditional print media is also part of the mix, destined to help launch Passion Lighting’s new ad campaign. New brochures and a new store signage program round out the effort.
Passion Lighting changes at least 75 percent of its displays within a year. A new Media Center area gave the showroom a new look and feel, while adding a functional work area to boot. It is now being updated to include LED lighting displays.
Thanks to these and other innovations, last year Passion Lighting had record sales. But even in its early days when it was losing money, the company donated a percentage of sales to Cook Children’s Medical Center and continues to do so. Other causes Passion funds are two national organizations, Wounded Warriors and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The company also supports roughly 25 charity auctions with product donations, including two very significant items for the Cattle Baron’s Ball. The items raised well over $1,000 that went to the American Cancer Society. The feedback from customers who attended the event was so positive, the company plans to repeat the donation again this year.
Uni-Lite, Anaheim, CA
Whether you come in to buy a single flush mount or enough lighting to fill an entire house, you will be treated the same way at Uni-Lite. Employees go out of their way to make sure customers are satisfied in every way. Even if the decision results in a smaller sale, Uni-Lite sells what the customer truly needs. Everyone on the sales staff makes a point of following up on a sale, which seems like a no-brainer but is increasingly rare in the busy lighting retail world.
Quite large for a Southern California retail operation, the 9,000-square-foot showroom and adjacent 32,000-square-foot warehouse have been home since 1978 when the company first opened. Back then, the customer base was tract builders; today the base has broadened to include homeowners, interior designers and high-end homebuilders. The company maintains a large inventory so customers can see and touch product and then, in most cases, take it home that day.
Known for having the freshest mix of new lighting designs, Uni-Lite is constantly moving around displays and adding new products as soon as they become available. The very newest goods are placed near the front door for all to see. Fabrics and wallcoverings used in displays are changed regularly to keep the colors and textures up-to-date. In recent months, the company has invested in updating the showroom with new displays and new carpeting. New motion sensors save energy and enhance the showroom’s “green-ness.”
Behind the scenes, Uni-Lite is in the process of improving its website with new colors and graphics, and a shopping cart option. The updated website will be accessible in the store, but not relied upon exclusively as a sales tool. “We have been told by customers, ‘I am here to see the product, I can look at it at home online,’” the company’s entry statement explains. To prime the pump, the company has updated its Google and Yelp pages and has been working on search engine optimization tactics to draw customers to its existing website and the showroom itself. Print ads in Luxe magazine’s Orange County edition are consuming budget dollars formerly allocated to Yellow Pages ads.