The front windows of Normandy’s new design studio showcase three kitchens. Inside, everything is geared toward product selection.
Normandy Remodeling is a fairly large design-build firm based out of Hinsdale, Ill., a western suburb of Chicago. We’ve been in business for 40 years and for most of that time we’ve enjoyed the benefits of having a showroom. I’ve been looking for years for the perfect location to open our second showroom and after a lot of sub-par buildings, I am thrilled that we have found the perfect spot for our second showroom.
A Brick-and-Mortar Presence
A showroom for us is first and foremost a powerful sales and business process tool. It allows us to shorten the client’s time from consultation to purchase, it saves countless hours of our staff’s time by consolidating selections under one roof, and it has been a great generator of customers; although not in the ways you might expect.
Choosing the right showroom really is about location, location, location. By having a brick and mortar presence “in the neighborhood” we anticipate that our traditional marketing efforts will work better. We’re not expecting a lot of walk-in traffic (we’ve done this long enough to know that it’s not very likely), but when someone finds us online, or gets a direct mail piece and sees a local address – they may give us a shot when they would have otherwise dismissed us.
Currently about 70% of our business comes from the city of Chicago and western suburbs, and 30% of our work is up north. The projects that we are winning up north are largely from strong referrals, which help customers look past the fact that we’re based “far away” from their home. Most of us wouldn’t want to travel 90 minutes to see a dentist recommended by a friend, and this is a much bigger endeavor than getting a crown.
The showroom also plays a big role in helping our sales team. In smaller companies you’ll often find the owner doing the selling. When someone says “this is my company and I stand behind it,” that’s very powerful. I’m not out there selling, and obviously our salespeople don’t tell the ownership story, so the showroom helps them tell the Normandy story. The showroom is just one more proof point to answer the “why should I buy from you” question.
The projects that we are winning up north are largely from strong referrals, which help customers look past the fact that we’re based “far away” from their home.
Our showrooms are designed to be very hands-on, with customers and salespeople working together out in the open. It’s not about hiding the selections process in the back room, the clients want to see all the fun stuff and designers will pull out materials in the main design area of the showroom. Each of the meeting spaces is also equipped with a computer and large monitor so that salespeople and homeowners can get everything they need without picking up and moving.
When there are 6 client meetings happening with blueprints and product arranged on the tables, and another 60 people letting out from a workshop, the buzz is palpable. People look around and see that they’re not alone in considering this big investment, lots of other people are remodeling too. It makes the idea seem less daunting and helps them overcome those lingering doubts.