Benefits of Showrooms
What do you think of when someone says "showroom"? The word can mean many things depending on how it is used. Some think of a showroom as an area they enter to look at actual slabs of stone. Others envision a finished area that has rooms or parts of rooms set up with various products configured and marked (think big box store here). And still others conjure mental images of samples of materials, color swatches, etc. meant to assist the buyer in choosing a material type, a specific color, or some other aspect of the buying decision. In this article we will try to avoid focusing on any of those variations of a showroom and stick with the concept of how a showroom has the potential to benefit your fabrication business. We will also briefly discuss why many find it to be worth the investment.
Isn't a showroom Another Expense?
True, setting up a showroom of any sort is an expense, yet when the expense results in additional benefits and/or income, it offers the potential to be viewed as an investment in many cases. Think about this, when you are discussing stone countertops with potential customers, you no doubt help them to appreciate that stone counter tops add value to the home and thus are worth the investment. By the same token, business owners frequently realize that incorporating a showroom of some kind brings profitable situations. Knowing the difference between expenses and investments are important. Note how this is stated in an article on Entrepreneur.com:
The key is to know and understand the difference between what is an expense to your business and what is an investment in your business.
The ability to and enhance operations so that they allow you more opportunities to make sales is beneficial. We will get into these a bit later. But first, let's briefly consider potential revenue streams of businesses in general.
From Where Do Sales Come?
The superficial answer to that question is, "from buyers of my product, of course." Correct! Yet, from where do buyers originate? Let's look at some paths consumers take to find a business providing services for which they are in search of.
Nearly everyone in this day and age does this. They know they need a product to solve a particular problem. So, they open a window on a computer or and app on a mobile device and begin searching for the solution. Or, they are browsing through their social media and see something related to another products they already know about. After reading, clicking, viewing, etc. they make their way to a website and make a purchase.
Shopping Brick and Mortar Stores
Another method for capturing sales that we are all familiar with from personal experience is simply going to a physical location and finding a solution to the problem we are trying to solve. This happens very much like the previous method except it happens in the actual physical world and not on line.
WOM: The Potent Method of Acquiring Sales
Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing is a very potent way to gain sales because of the way it works. Simply put, one customer of a business tells another person about their experience as a customer of the business being discussed. It works well, because of some important factors. 1) the person doing the talking is someone that already has a measure fo the hearer's trust. 2) the person speaking is often times someone that has already been through the buying experience so they can answer questions. 3) the person talking about the product or service usually has good things to say from the customers' perspective. Word of mouth is so potent because it has such a high level of trust. We won't go into the details about this here. But if you are interested, you might find the article entitled Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Why It’s Incredibly Important for Growth to be an interesting read.
Showrooms Can Facilitate Word of Mouth
Benefits of showrooms stem from this idea of facilitating the word of mouth situations. How so? We'll break this down into 3 main aspects. First, showrooms keep you connected to your existing customers. Second, showrooms give you the opportunity to build and maintain trust. Third, showrooms offer the opportunity for in person viral advertising. It involves repeat business.
Staying Connected to Existing Customers
It is easy to begin thinking, even without realizing it, that once the transaction is complete the sale is over. But that view of it often results in lost sales. Why? Because the contact is lost. On the other hand, having a place where existing customers can visit and either ask questions that come up, or purchase a related product, allows for repeat contact with persons you already know are interested in stone surfaces.
Establishing & Maintaining Trust
You have no doubt heard the saying, "trust must be earned". And even after trust is earned, it has to maintained. It is easier lose than it is to obtain. Having the consistent contact mentioned in the previous point facilitates maintaining that trust with your existing customers. What about new customers? Well, as we mentioned earlier, word of mouth is powerful. So when people have questions about something related to products or services you offer, who will they talk about it with? Their friends no doubt. If their friends already know and trust your business, there is an opportunity for word of mouth marketing to happen. Again, the credit can be traced back to the showroom and the continuous trust being fostered by means of it.
Viral Marketing is Not Just Virtual
A showroom environment allows your business to not only keep contact with your customers and build trust that they will speak about to others, but also facilitates repeat business. Don't think of repeat business as selling the same product or service to the same customer. Rather, think of it as selling another product associated with the first one to the customer you already have. Stone surfaces must be cleaned. Having products for cleaning stone in your facility gives them a reason to come to you. Sometimes, stains occur. If they can pick up stain remover easily from your location, they don't have to wait. Furthermore, repairs, resurfacing, or other unforeseen issues may come up. When these kinds of problems occur in the lives of people and their friends, they generally turn (or refer friends) to professionals they trust. Again, maintaining a showroom and facilitating trust through it means that they may turn to your business for that help.
In addition to solving problems that come up, making a sale known ahead of time to people frequenting a showroom environment can result in advertising by means of word of mouth that is free of charge for your business.
Look Beyond the Sale
Viewing the initial sale of a product or service shortchanges your business in the sense that the relationship is worth so much more then the sale. The relationship with your existing customer is what allows for the growth to happen. It is not necessarily easy to maintain and it does cost something to facilitate the relationship through a showroom of some kind. But many fabrication professionals have seen just how effective having a showroom for presenting products and services proves to be in many cases. Will yours be the next?