A two-time Showroom of the Year Award-winning showroom in the $5 Million and Over category, Norburn Lighting & Bath Centre  is actively meeting new challenges head on, in part by challenging its own suppliers to help the company help its customers make the transition to LED technology.
Regional Manager Norm Brown, CLC® and 2009 American Lighting Assn.  (ALA) Pillar of the Industry award recipient, pulls no punches when he talked about the industry’s LED revolution. “We have always been a style-driven industry; vendors made the whole fixture except for the lamp,” Brown says. “For instance, now LEDs are integral to fixtures. We never worried about light output before. Now it is a major issue, especially for our older customers. Most of us are now learning by error.”
The LED learning curve is progressing slowly, Brown says. In the meantime, end-user disappointment with brightness and color rendering, and dimming issues are some of the recurring problems that “do not make for happy customers,” he says.
Norburn Lighting’s training philosophy recognizes the direct link between staff training and increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Every staff member has an ALA Lighting Specialist credential at minimum, including a salesperson who is one of Canada’s three Certified Lighting Consultants (CLCs).
In this time of technical transition, Brown says Norburn has added employee training sessions to its already vigorous program. Management feels strongly that investing in employees is key to instilling best customer service practices and retaining employees. The company has been asking its suppliers to step up their own training programs, too. “We need the reps to give us even more,” Brown says.
Learning how to manage LED inventory is another new challenge to work through. “Sources in China want to sell us product by the thousands, but we have to be very careful how we buy because prices are dropping and the technology is getting better all the time,” Brown says. “The goods have a six-month shelf life, which is pretty new to us.”
Internet marketing was once a new discipline, but now Norburn is an experienced pro. In early July, the company launched its fourth new website in seven years. A customer e-mail address list is helping the business grow sales, and more. In the past, 20 to 30 people would be good attendance for a showroom-hosted seminar. Promoted with e-mail blasts to more than 10,000 customers, Brown says the showroom’s last two seminars drew 85 to 100 people, who stayed for more than two hours to listen and learn.