|Posted on July 29, 2014 at 3:20 PM|
When I started in this industry – back in 1998 for those keeping score at home – there were basically two types of CI firms: those with a showroom and those without whom we less-than-lovingly referred to as “trunk slammers.”
At the time, our company, Custom Theater and Audio, had a showroom we were renting; a space next to an interior decorator that we thought create a wonderful synergy as they would undoubtedly send us all of their clients once they finished selling them window treatments and couches and chandeliers. (Never worked out that way. Turned out in the late ‘90s interior decorators still hated all of our “black box” stuff and the idea of “ruining” their design space with something as horrible as a TV or speaker system was just a slightly better idea than suggesting they go with a camouflage design theme.)
Having had the “luxury” of working out of a showroom for the past 16 years, I often ask myself if we were opening our business now, would investing in a showroom make the most business sense? Or would a more streamlined, approach make us more fiscally successful? Here’s a list of pros and cons on having a showroom…
Business Credibility – There’s no doubt about it, a tangible, physical store front where people can come and visit any time they feel like adds a huge amount of credibility by conveying a sense of permanence. “Brick and mortar.” The words just have a sense of gravitas to them. If you are just working out of your house and decide tomorrow that this whole install thing isn’t working out, it’s pretty easy to just close shop. Take the magnet off the truck, change your phone number and poof! You’re gone. A showroom also suggests that you believe in your business and that it will be around for a while and that you’ve attained a certain amount of success to be able to invest in a showroom. Also, some people are just more comfortable spending money on luxury items with a company that has a storefront.
Demonstrations – Rush – Canada’s greatest export – has a song titled “Show Don’t Tell” and that’s exactly what a showroom allows you to do. With a showroom, you have a variety of systems set-up and always at the ready for demonstration. Instead of trying to TELL someone about something, a showroom allows you to SHOW them that concept in action. Want to explain exactly how easy a Sonos is to operate? Want to demonstrate how well a housewide HDBaseT HDMI-over-Cat5 matrix distribution system works? Want to show someone how to tame and control their movie collection with a Kaleidescape? Want to let someone know how powerful an iPad can be when it’s controlling a housewide lighting, security, HVAC, A/V system and more? All of these things are part of the everyday life of having a showroom.