by J. Norman Foxworth
The biggest challenge lies in the fact that 95 percent of the time, furniture companies purchase glass as a package with the furniture. The glass wholesaler usually receives only that portion of the business the furniture company needs in a rush. The upside is that the profit on the average piece you sell on a rush basis is higher. Keep this in mind when you quote a rush job.
The downside is that after your hard work to meet the customers tight schedule, the furniture company typically goes back to receiving his glass shipments with the furniture package. This is the standard routine; you must adjust to it.
The area of the furniture business that I believe offers the greatest opportunity is the showroom concept. The opportunity is as big as your own creativity.
As an industry with a focus in selling glass, we must consider that there is more to a table top setting than glassthere are the pedestals, the chairsdont forget about the crystal and mirrored place mats. Selling framed mirrors in the room where the table will be placed offers an additional sales opportunity. With all of these types of items, you can triple your selling price and double your profit. The more you offer the customer at a competitive price, the better your chance at creating repeat customers.
The proper display of your glass items is essential. Be sure to have a lot of items to show. Color and light are also important in the showroom. Try to show only those products that lead to repeat orders. When introducing new products, create interest by placement and dramatization, but never at the expense of a repeat-order product. All items should display the price and sizes available. Most importantly, remember that you are in the money-making business, and glass is just a part of it.
Plan your showroom carefully with special attention to traffic patterns. Product displays should lead potential buyers from one setting to another, with the next setting complementing the last. While the idea of "the more you see, the more you sell" is a proven one, do not clutter your show floor.
If your market is upscale, there must be quality appeal. Choose materials, such as 3/4-inch glass, that provide an upscale appearance.
Furniture companies must make purchasing decisions based on what they believe their customers will buy. Do everything possible in your display and in the information you provide to help them. When they do order from you, they probably wont expect shipment for six to eight weeks, which allows you time to produce the products when you return from the show.
It takes a lot of time and effort to develop contacts. However, as you develop these contacts and your customer base expands, youll have the opportunity to promote products that you would not have the chance to market normally. A showroom display approach will open up new avenues of growth for your glass company; seize these opportunities. Make a follow-up on show contacts part of your sales routine. You will find that you will be excited about selling other products that use your glass.
J. Norman Foxworth is president of Covington, LA-based Dependable Glass Works, Inc., established in 1968. He is a successful exhibitor with more than 15 years of experience appealing to and motivating furniture show buyers.
AFG Industries of Kingsport, TN, manufactures a broad variety of glass products for furniture applications including Heavy, Krystal Klear and Patterned.
The companys Heavy glass, available in 3/8- to 3/4-inch thicknesses, is a key component for manufacturers and fabricators of table tops, bases, shelving and display cabinets.
Krystal Klear, AFGs ultra-clear, low-iron glass is used where clarity and color are a concern. The product offers an almost colorless appearance, making it ideal for screenprinting applications on unique tables, displays or shelving, according to the manufacturer.
Patterned glass, available in more than a dozen designs, is also used in the production of casual furniture and interior partitions. Applications include table tops, accessory/cocktail tables, serving carts and room dividers.
© Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.