Colonial Lighting, Sugar Hill, GA
Colonial Lighting is a destination lighting showroom located on the outskirts of Atlanta in one of Georgia’s fastest-growing counties. With more than 60 vendors in its portfolio, the 7,500-square-foot showroom is well-equipped with traditional, transitional or contemporary lighting to satisfy every taste and budget.
When Builder Specialties reopened Colonial Lighting in August 2010, the showroom had a very small footprint in the state’s lighting industry. After major renovation and remerchandising, today that footprint is growing as the showroom continues to make a name for itself. Management counts on superior customer service, product knowledge and inventory availability to support the showroom’s growth. Sales have been increasing steadily and more commercial customers are coming into the store, a new and welcome business segment.
Colonial Lighting sells a full complement of decorative and functional lighting, as well as a complete range of outdoor living products, including kitchens and grills. Furniture, fans, fountains and more finish off the new outdoor living area. Likewise, indoor furniture, lamps, mirrors and accessories are shown within stunning vignettes. Displays are freshened on a regular basis, with new product added after every Dallas Market.
In large part, the store’s relationship with loyal customers has made growth possible. As the entry statement explained, ”first and foremost, we are in the customer service business.” The showroom’s sales team, warehouse crew and management work together closely, and reps and vendors also play important roles, providing training and a steady stream of inventory. The goal, the entry says, is to ”make the customer’s home choices an experience that they will remember for years to come.”
Dulles Electric Supply, Sterling, VA
Dulles Electric Supply is the Mid-Atlantic’s largest lighting showroom with five featured galleries: Schonbek, Swarovski, Hubbardton Forge, Fine Art Lamps and Visual Comfort & Co., the only one in the Washington, D.C., area. The 12,000-square-foot showroom is state-of-the-art.
An ”Experience Center” features a whole-house dimming system and real-life lighting applications. It also features a full lighting lab demonstrating recessed lights. In September 2013, Dulles Electric launched a new, more ”SEO-friendly” website, a move that is part of a major campaign to increase the company’s online presence. Customers can now shop online, learn about promotions, check out lighting tips on the blog and more.
Customers can connect with Dulles using their favorite social media platforms. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, Dulles is now on LinkedIn, Houzz, Pinterest and Google+. The showroom also beefed up e-mail marketing by investing in Vocus marketing automation software. The software helps the company to better organize its online efforts, content creation and tracking. Vocus software is also used to produce custom Facebook apps, press releases, landing pages for events and sales, and monthly e-mail newsletters. In the works is a downloadable home lighting guide that will also help boost lead generation.
Improvements are also underway in the showroom. All salespeople are being equipped with iPads so they can collect customer information easily, as well as having catalogs and other information literally at their fingertips. Educational events co-sponsored by vendors have been a great way to build relations with customers and more are planned. Dulles Electric Supply has worked hard to be the best, and those efforts were rewarded this year when the showroom was given the Designers’ Choice Award for ”Favorite Lighting Dealer” from Home & Design magazine.
Gross Electric, Toledo, OH
Over the course of 104 years in business, Gross Electric has been transformed and transformed again, always with an eye to be the best lighting showroom in a medium-size market. As competitors have come and gone, Gross has remodeled its showroom to stay current. It added new lines, most recently decorative accessories, and door and cabinet hardware. There are new services, too, like light bulb recycling, and lamp and lighting fixture repairs. Through good and bad, the company has been able to maintain market share and defend its long-held reputation as Northwest Ohio/Southeast Michigan’s top lighting showroom.
After more than a century, Gross Electric is also known to be a dependable and generous community member. As part of that commitment, Gross incorporates charitable giving into its own events, like a golf outing for builders and contractors. Raffles and a silent auction at the event helped raise $4,000 to donate to the Alzheimer’s Assn. and the Sight Center of Northwest Ohio. A food drive for a local food bank coincided with the showroom’s OSU/UM football festivities. For the store’s holiday party, attendees were asked to bring in toiletries that Gross Electric donated to a local homeless shelter. Lighting and electrical products are often given to Habitat for Humanity building projects and local charity auctions.
Above all else, management at the family-owned and operated business believes that the showroom’s knowledgeable staff is its greatest asset and it continues to invest in their education. Gross employs the only two ALA CLCs within a 75-mile radius of its stores, and all staff members with more than one year of service are ALA Lighting Specialists. According to the company’s entry statement: ”As a family-owned business, we treat our employees as extended family. This is why, on average, our employees have been with our company for over 15 years.”
Inline Lighting, Huntsville, AL
Comprising five showrooms located throughout Alabama, Inline Lighting is part of IMARK Group, a member-owned marketing group made up of more than 1,100 independently owned electrical distributors throughout the United States. Inline is employee-owned, which gives everyone a vested interest in the company’s well-being and continued growth. The plan is to continue to improve by staying up on the latest lighting topics and trends. Inline takes pride in having the newest products first to offer to customers. Vendor reps are tapped to provide ongoing product education. Inline also offers CEU courses for the benefit of employees and customers alike.
In-store merchandising is another way Inline proves that it is on top of new trends in lighting. Showroom fixture displays are updated on the first Tuesday of the month. The discipline does not go unnoticed: Local designers have come to know that Inline will always have new fixtures on display to show their clients on a regular basis.
Going the extra mile to satisfy customers comes naturally at Inline. This winter, Huntsville was hit with a snowstorm. One customer was quite distraught because his furniture was being delivered on a Friday and he wanted his lighting installed beforehand. The fixtures finally arrived Friday morning. A dutiful Inline employee waited for the fixtures to come off the truck, loaded them into the store’s truck and drove to the house himself to ensure they were up before the furniture arrived.
Showroom employees have responded well to the ”Gold-Star” program instituted by showroom manager Ed Jaco. The program is simple, yet extremely effective. Jaco picks a small task — like changing light bulbs, straightening shades, dusting, etc. Whoever does the task gets $10 that week, and the employee with the most Gold Stars within six months gets a paid day off.
Kendall Lighting Center, Grand Rapids, MI
With two ALA CLCs and five Lighting Specialists on board, employee-owned Kendall Lighting can claim to have Western Michigan’s most qualified showroom staff. With more than 100 years of combined industry experience among them, Kendall’s lighting experts are also business owners who aim to provide the knowledge and expertise
to complete even the most challenging lighting installations.
The 6,000-square-foot showroom has two lighting labs to help Kendall’s clients make the best possible selection. Customers also love the fact that the showroom maintains
a large inventory and has special order access to more than 100 vendors.
A member of the Home Builders Assn. of Greater Grand Rapids, Kendall also serves the community in charitable ways. In 2013, the company donated to the new Miracle Ball Park for handicapped youth and Ele’s Place, which helps grieving children. Another program it supports, the North End Community Ministries ”Back to School” program, provides supplies, clothing and haircuts to children in need. The showroom’s food drive rewards customers by offering discounts for bringing in food and personal hygiene items.
Two colleges are in the area, and Kendall Lighting supports both. The staff mentors interior design students of Kendall College of Art and Design and Baker College in Muskegon. Students later return as clients — and sometimes owner/associates, too.
To stay on top of new products and new technologies, Kendall depends on vendor training, education through the company’s intranet as well as ALA webinars and training materials. As the entry statement explains, ”We are committed to continuously improving the quality of our processes, business practices and the products we represent to provide the best overall benefit for our customers, our suppliers and our owner/associates.”
Lee Lighting, Frisco, TX
By refusing to be complacent, Lee Lighting made it through the housing market crash and came out the other end better for the challenge. One of the new twists is an ample consumer ad budget, something not in place back when homebuilders accounted for 80 percent of the business. The store went from doing virtually no advertising to doing direct mail tabloids and postcards, TV commercials and billboards. It also emphasized social media. As Lee’s entry statement explains, ”Our goal
is to make sure customers became familiar with our brand and recognize us as the ’premier lighting showroom’ wherever we do business.”
To draw more people into the showroom, Lee added new product categories, including home décor and outdoor furniture. It is the store’s ”passion and commitment” for customers to have a visually pleasing shopping experience. A new Merchandising Manager is charged with creating beautiful focal points and vignettes that make the most of the showroom’s lighting, furnishings and accessories. Eye-popping window and floor banners greet customers at the front entrance and help direct them to the promotional items throughout the showroom.
In recent months, Lee has made improvements to its user-friendly website. Steering customers to its social ”markets” not only drives sales, it also builds community. Lee management believes the showroom’s online presence also provides another tier of product education and customer support. Lee uses Facebook and Twitter as a tool to educate customers about lighting, lighting hardware, lighting installation and lighting design. Links on the site direct users to lighting information and how-to’s, the latest information on government standards and more. E-books created by Lee staffers, offered free of charge, are another way of building and educating the community base.
The Lighting Boutique, Windsor, ON
First opened in 1968, this 30,000-square-foot, family-owned lighting showroom was ”reborn” in 2012. The company’s new building, the largest lighting showroom in southwestern Ontario, soars above nearby stores, a vision that makes an immediate impression on customers.
The two-story showroom features stairs and an elevator. A wrap-around balcony above the second story offers a 360-degree view of displays and the fixtures sold on the first floor. It also creates a dramatic setting for the showroom’s largest and grandest chandeliers that hang in that space.
Beyond its bold architecture and striking displays, The Lighting Boutique’s showroom was designed to make shopping exciting and uncomplicated. Each lighting vendor occupies an area designed specifically for that company’s own designs. Categories of lighting are shown in separate areas. In the Bath Lighting area, for example, vanities set the backdrop for pendants, sconces and over-the-mirror lighting combinations. In other areas, unique paintings and warm, pastel-colored walls enhance lighting vignettes replicating the living room, dining room and bedroom.
A state-of-the-art television system streams videos through 10 different monitors stationed throughout the store. Provided by the showroom’s vendors, the clips are entertaining and informative, giving customers important information on the lighting designs they see on display.
While the company has a branch for commercial and industrial jobs, The Lighting Boutique specializes in residential lighting. As the entry statement explains, ”We strive to make every home a custom job, pulling new designs and unique styles from our resources. From traditional to contemporary to transitional, we focus directly on the customer’s style and taste.”
Northwest Lighting and Accents, Mt. Prospect, IL
Northwest Lighting and Accents believes that showroom excellence requires more than just the best building, displays and products. Like many independent dealers, the 66,000-square-foot showroom faces intense competition from price-cutting Internet sellers. Motivated employees who have extensive lighting and interior design experience and who are passionate about lighting help the store thrive.
Displays that sell light and lighting effects by demonstrating to customers the aesthetics of a quality lighting design are another competitive tool. ”We are selling the expertise of creating a quality custom lighting scheme, to help customers realize the vision of what their spaces can be,” the entry statement explains. The customer can then purchase this vision, complete with drawings, installation documents and lighting controls in addition to the lighting products. For additional charges, Northwest provides on-site support, finishing and aiming services.
This year, Northwest Lighting built one of its most advanced display tools to date. A new lighting demonstration vignette depicts an actual-size professional office, complete with a full gambit of available LED lighting products in every price point. The room has been lit with six distinct pre-set lighting schemes, each representative of installations commonly seen in the field. End users find it easy to compare and contrast the options.
The demonstration vignette has generated larger-than-usual projects that include architectural lighting, decorative lighting, automated shading, lighting control systems and interior accessories instead of only one or two of these categories, which might have been more typical. The demand for this category of business has prompted Northwest to start developing a professional services division that offers lighting design as a billable service.
Pace Lighting, Savannah, GA
Pace Lighting is on a roll. Sales rose 18 percent in 2012, followed by a record 32 percent jump in 2013. The active ALA member was a 2014 ARTS Awards finalist, a three-time Showroom of the Year winner and now a five-time finalist. Pace Lighting’s entry statement says it all: ”We work hard for each of our clients, vendors and the lighting industry as a whole. We might not be your typical lighting showroom, but we are passionate about what we do every day.”
Known for vast selection, innovative merchandising and excellent customer service, Pace serves homeowners shopping for a new dining room chandelier to contractors on multi-million-dollar projects. In the past two years, Pace has actively pursued multi-family and hospitality markets. Every customer gets the ”full lighting experience” from fixture selection, lighting design, purchasing light bulbs and installation to lighting and technical expertise.
Throughout the showroom, function and form integrate beautifully into meaningful displays. Pace does not use manufacturer display boards. Store management feels this particular approach gives the showroom a streamlined look and allows more manufacturers to be represented. There are 2,500 fixtures on display from 175 manufacturers. Display fixtures range from a $15,000 showpiece to a simple $25 sconce, and every style and price in between. Having the right product at the right price is a key to the showroom’s success.
Social media has become a cost-effective solution for Pace. Engaging content and pictures on social media have helped Pace build an active base of customers and industry contacts. Twitter, Instagram and Houzz are used as time permits. Pace posts to Facebook, its primary social media outlet, at least once a week. ”We aim to ’touch’ our audience two to three times a week to remain relevant and at the forefront of our customer’s attention,” says its entry.
Passion Lighting, Grapevine, TX
A multifaceted lighting showroom catering to designers, builders, homeowners and commercial customers, Passion Lighting opened its doors in 2006. With nearly 9,000 square feet of selling space, the showroom offers lighting products from more than 100 manufacturers. There is a broad assortment of basic, high-end and specialty lighting products, plus ceiling fans and home décor, including furniture. Landscape lighting has become a profitable business niche. The showroom offers creative landscape lighting design services and installation completed by the in-house landscape lighting division.
Product knowledge and lighting expertise set Passion apart from the local competition. In fact, company owner Bruce D. Paul, LS, CIRM, CLC, is the only one of three CLCs in Tarrant and Denton counties. Paul is also the star of the ”Lighting Gourmet” video blog site, an online series that provides information on a variety of lighting topics.
This year Paul and his team will be revamping the popular blog site with the goal of having a miniature studio set up by year-end. At press time, two three-minute videos were in production that will be the cornerstone of the re-launch. One video promotes Passion Lighting’s own landscape lighting design projects and services. The other is on landscape lighting design and installation.
It’s not an inexpensive endeavor, but Passion now spends the bulk of its marketing dollars on its websites and search engine optimization to help customers find the showroom. The company owns more than 30 domain names that correspond to cities within a 30-mile radius of the showroom. If someone from the surburb of Southlake searches ”Southlake lighting,” a modified form of the Passion Lighting website comes up first. A third-party SEO company manages this extensive program.