Showrooms are a great way to showcase your remodeling talents and products, but having a showroom doesn’t necessarily mean that people will come.
It’s a lesson that Dennis Gehman, CR, CKBR, CLC, president of Gehman Design Remodeling based in Harleysville, Pa., learned nearly seven years ago when he transformed an old barn into a stunning showroom.
“We built the showroom on a busy road with a big sign, with at least 20,000 vehicles driving by regularly, and still, people say that they never knew we were here or that this is what the building was,” Gehman says.
It is this lack of awareness that motivates Gehman to constantly promote his showroom and get people in the door. “If two walk-ins come by in one week, we are really excited,” he says.
Crowds take creativity
Gehman says the trick to get people in the door is finding reasons for them to stop in for reasons other than remodeling their home.
And finding creative ways to get the word out often means people coming to Gehman’s showroom do not necessarily have an immediate interest in remodeling. But once they get walk in the door, the showroom is on their radar.
With all in-house subcontractors and designers, it’s difficult to utilize trade relationships to bring their clients to the showroom. Instead, Gehman transforms his showroom into an event venue.
Recently, Gehman partnered with a natural foods chef that taught cooking classes in her own home. She wanted to expand, but couldn’t do so in her limited space. In exchange for hosting her in his showroom, Gehman was given a few minutes upfront to introduce himself to the cooking club and had designers/staff on-hand to answer questions throughout the night.
For the past year-in-a-half, Gehman has hosted a monthly Pampered Chef meeting where sales reps review new products and presentation techniques from the regional manager. “The meetings are at no cost to us, and the sales reps go into people’s houses and kitchens and many times the homeowners make comments about their own kitchens, and they pass along my name,” he says.
He also transformed his showroom into a mall, hosting a Christmas Shopping Extravaganza filled with vendors, snacks, door prizes and face painting to keep kids occupied while the adults enjoy themselves.
Gehman was especially pleased with the chili cook-off event, which brought nearly 40 people to the showroom to admire each other’s chili recipes. He also hosts yearly Chamber of Commerce meetings in his showroom and other local networking groups.
Through all of the different events he’s done, Gehman says that success is not always be rated on the size of the crowd. “Sometimes it’s nice when only eight people show up because there is more interaction with smaller groups.”—Morgan Zenner