Volume 48, Issue 4 - June/July/August 2009


Displays: A Selling Essential

Exceptional Product Exhibits Can Boost Your Sale
by Samantha Carpenter, editor of Shelter magazine.

Mike McDaniel knows first-hand how important displays are in selling products. He had a MAI Doors display in his showroom at McDaniel Window & Door Co. in Florence, Ala., that he would keep accent lighting on at night. A customer drove past on her way home from a concert in town one night, saw the door through the window, and called her husband saying she found the entrance door for their home.

That’s just one small part of why McDaniel Window and Door is in the process of expanding and completely remodeling its showroom.

“We are installing special lighting to accent our displays. Having a good-looking display makes our job a lot easier. You can have pictures, catalogs, websites, and that’s good, but there is no substitute for the actual product on display to show the customer about quality, craftsmanship and detail. A customer once said to me, ‘The catalog does not do the door justice.’”

Therma-Tru supplied Mary Ratti’s company, Galleria Design Center in Middletown, Conn., with a display and more.

“They supplied an absolutely gorgeous display with a full entrance,” Ratti explains. “One panel on the end is full of information about the hardware and other aspects. The other side has four doors showcasing each of their different styles.”

Ratti says her company also built a house inside its showroom with a wrap-around porch, and the front door is also a Therma-Tru entrance system.

The Norandex branch in Austin, Texas, was opened recently and was able to promote Simonton Windows with the manufacturer’s recently redesigned showroom displays.

“We were very excited to be the first Norandex location to receive these selling aids to help kick off 2009,” says Justin Holland, area salesperson at Norandex’ Austin, Texas, branch.

Jim Crosby, outside sales rep for Zeeland Lumber & Supply Co. in Comstock Park, Mich., says his company worked with MAI Doors and picked from the manufacturer’s used displays.

“We had them shipped in with one of our orders, so it did not cost either of us anything,” he explains.

“Every customer that walks into our showroom almost always takes a few minutes to view and operate the windows in these displays. There is no question that they help separate our showroom and product lines from the competition.”
—Justin Holland, Norandex, Austin, Texas

Up Close and Personal
But just how important are displays to actually selling the product? Distributors and dealers agree it’s very important.

“Every customer who walks into our showroom almost always takes a few minutes to view and operate the windows in these displays,” Holland says. “There is no question that they help separate our showroom and product lines from the competition.”

Ratti says the response from customers to the displays has been extremely positive and it helps them see exactly what they are buying.

“They can see what the oak grain looks like and the mahogany grains, and they can see the difference between a smooth door and a stained door,” Ratti says.

Manufacturers concur with their distributor and dealer partners on the necessity of product displays and product sample cases, although they do differ on their amount of support in providing them.

Jeremy Melis, marketing manager for MAI Doors in Wylie, Texas, agrees with Ratti. He says while literature and websites are always great places for customers to do their research, “nothing sells a high-end product like a wood door better than having a display that customers can touch and feel in person.”

Jeff Williams, corporate marketing manager for Schield Family Brands, which includes Weather Shield Windows and Doors, agrees that displays give customers a realistic representation of what the product will look like once it’s installed in a wall.

He explains that Schield splits the cost of displays with dealers and their displays are produced in-house and outsourced, depending on the complexity of the displays.

“Modular displays are flexible units that can be set up to fit within the space available at a dealer. They have movable walls and returns, which can store corner sections and accessories. Dealers can specify which windows they want to include in either modular or built-in displays when they place the order with a manufacturer, so the display showcases products specific to their geographic region or customer demographic,” Williams says.

He goes on to explain that rolling displays are useful for smaller showrooms or for use at home shows or builder and architect visits.

“Smaller showrooms often display entry doors on spinner displays, which highlight up to four panels in a relatively small area,” Williams adds.

Kelly Reynolds, director of marketing services at JELD-WEN, concurs.

“Well-crafted displays are essential when it comes to selling a product and brand, as they can help reinforce key attributes, attract attention and promote important features and benefits,” Reynolds says. “For a sales person, they can help bring a product to life for the customer. That’s because it can be difficult for customers to imagine just how much the right window and door can improve the curb appeal and architectural style of their home until they see it for themselves—great displays help them envision the possibilities and better understand how these products will function and perform in their own home.”

Displays are Key
Matthew O’Shea, director of marketing at GlassCraft Door Corp. in Houston, says that displays are instrumental to dealers and distributors.

“The displays have a direct affect on sales. The more time and energy spent on the showroom design, layout and point-of-purchase graphics and information, the better the return on money and time invested.”

His company has started to partner with its dealers and distribution network to provide more help to them on what needs to be done as a complete package to showcase its products to help sales.

Whether your suppliers provide you with displays and sample cases or divide the cost, it’s important you display your products as aesthetically-pleasing as possible. If you still aren’t a believer, then read this story from McDaniel.

“I special ordered an arch-top mahogany door from MAI for a customer,” says McDaniel. “When I received the unit, I put it in our showroom until our customer was ready for delivery. Within one week, we had sold two more door units just from customers walking into our showroom, so we decided to put a pre-finished door on display and have sold more than 200 arch-top doors in the last four years.”


Flying Solo
If your building product supplier doesn’t provide or help with displays, do you have to settle for nothing? There are a number of display manufacturers that help design and manufacture displays to showcase products.

Vision Products in New Kensington, Pa., builds samples and displays for door and window showrooms as well as countertop displays and cases that can be carried into an end-user’s home.

Jim Young, president of Vision Products, has customers who tell him they want all their products to be available to take into the home. “We once had a salesperson send us in window parts in a Wal-Mart bag. He said he would carry the parts into the home [like that]. Needless to say, he was pretty pleased with the soft-side bag we sold him,” Young explains.

Emes Marketing Inc. also manufactures and sells displays for windows, doors (entry, interior and storm), garage doors and more.

“The overwhelming theme of all of our displays is to display maximum product in a minimum amount of space,” explains Mark Shields, owner of the company. “This is especially beneficial in today’s economic times, as people are down-sizing their showroom space and/or their booth sizes at trade shows and home shows.”

Shields, like Young, has some interesting stories about door and window displays.

“Prior to buying our displays, many of our customers were literally leaning their door and window samples up against their showroom walls, trying to be very careful not to handle them too much so that they would not fall over,” Shields says.

DAC Products Inc. in East Bend, N.C., is another manufacturer of displays. Todd Woods, vice president of sales and marketing, explains that his company produces displays for showrooms, rolling displays for showrooms, plus smaller portable carrying cases that can convert into stand-alone displays.

DAC once had a customer who purchased some handles to screw directly to the side of their windows samples, and their customers sold the windows in the home to consumers.

“Our customer was getting consistent complaints that sample windows had problems with the jambs bowing out, and our customer knew they were going through extreme quality checks in the sample department to assure flawless samples. They did not understand what was going on or why the complaints they were receiving were just on the samples,” Woods explains.

His customer realized eventually that by carrying the window with the handle attached directly to the jamb, it was putting the window through stress that it was not designed to withstand.

“When we did hear about the problem, we called the customer and talked them into trying a few of our cases. Once they saw that the problem was solved, they started using window carrying cases and the complaints went away and sales went up,” Woods says.

Copyright 2009 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.