All or Nothing
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

You can’t please everybody. But you should at least give the impression that you’re trying to do so.

  Sounds a touch nefarious, doesn’t it? Well, I’m not actually promoting outright deception. Let’s face the facts: You only have so much square footage, and there’s always someone just dying to complain about their unmet needs, so you simply will not be able to offer the whole kit and caboodle, despite your best intentions. On the other hand, while there’s much to be said in favor of specialization, you can niche yourself right into solitary confinement if you draw those lines too sharply. And we’ve all heard how dangerous that single basket of eggs can be.

 So, that leaves you stuck in the middle. Your first priority is to serve your core clientele. Make sure they’re at home in your showroom. They want to feel special, as if you’re tailoring your merchandise selection specifically to their wants and needs. Don’t scare them off with too many out-there, experimental design directions. That said, you’d better stock a few exotic ideas—and not just to lend your business the cool factor we’re always promoting on our pages. You also need to stroke your customers’ egos. Whether they’d ever buy such eccentricities doesn’t matter. It just boosts their pride to think that you believe them adventurous enough to make daring decisions. We never quite grow out of that, do we?

  But you also need to be careful not to close your doors to new patron possibilities. Be wary of other vendors that might steal potential profit avenues, such as irrigation folks swiping landscape projects or contractors pilfering kitchen and bath remodels. Basically, if anything involved is lit, you should get your hands in it. In this issue, we pay a visit to the builder sector (“Home Sweet Home”), exploring the benefits showrooms may find there.

  It can’t hurt to test the different waters. If nothing else, keep catalogs on hand, hang informational signage and try to display at least a handful of products addressing several ancillary categories. If you don’t reach out, new business will not come find you. And even though you can’t be everything to everyone, no one can say you didn’t try.

Chandra Palermo


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