Hope Is Not a Strategy!

Your alluring showroom is targeted to captivate your market’s best architects, builders and designers. You know you display THE best product mix in the market.  Or do you operate more on the “gut feel approach” – “I hope the product I selected at ICFF will captivate my good clients?” Hope is a prayer, not a business strategy. Data added to your market knowledge increases your chances for a WOW product mix. Good data can only make your business better. But where does this good data come from? How do I get it? How do I use it? Let’s keep it simple and focus on which finishes are your foundation – those that are starting to trend up and maybe (if you have the space) a handful of classic styles in their most royal, garish look. If a finish is not selling, there is no need to waste the space. When that unique customer comes in looking for satin chrome, your team is talented enough to control the sale. A finish sample will work just fine. What finishes do you actually sell, what is selling in your regional market and what is trending in New York, Los Angeles or Miami that you can show to keep your well-read trade professionals happy? 

Step #1: What data do I need?

  • Bathroom Fixtures: Simply look at lavatory faucet sales finish data.
  • Bathroom Accessories: Every bathroom needs a paper holder, so focus there.
  • Cabinet Hardware: With this category’s diversity, this total finish breakdown is best left to the wisdom of the crowds. Ask your top six cabinet hardware vendors for their finish sales in dollars and compare it to yours and get to it. Look for trends here. This segment is all over the place.
  • Door Hardware: With the diversity of door hardware styles (really, no finish has a historical dominance), use the same process for Cabinet Hardware above, focusing on door knobs and levers, only.

 Step #2: How do I collect the data?

  • Download the last 18 months of sales data, filed as noted, from your database for each product category listed above.
  • Contact your key vendors in each product category and ask them for their last 18 months sales reports by finish (filtered as noted above) in North America, your market only and New York, Los Angeles and Southern Florida. 

 Step #3: Review the data:

  • Walk your showroom and see what could be removed, changed and what needs to be added.
  • Review the data with your sales purchasing teams. They all have their individual perception and seeing the actual sales data will help them see the market a bit clearer.

It is paramount that showrooms and vendors work together on this to present the most viable products to the trades and engaged homeowners. These are the people that specify and buy, so show them what they want to see, not what a vendor or showroom thinks might be “hot.” Finally DO NOT LEAVE THE SALES REPRESENTATIVE OUT OF THE LOOP. If they are guessing on what to present on their trade calls and miss the mark, vendors and showrooms lose. Finally, all data is important and should be actively shared, reviewed and evaluated every six months. Why guess?

Also published on the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association’s Blog: Hope Is Not A Strategy.


“The confidence that individuals have in 
their beliefs depends mostly on the
quality of the story they can tell
about what they see,
even if they see little.” 
- Daniel Kahneman

Got a gut feeling
Got a gut feeling
Got a gut feeling feeling

- Devo
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Today’s Venture Capital companies are constantly looking for new style trends and products to improve their portfolios and improve their market shares.  These businesses are managed by savvy entrepreneurs who are constantly harvesting the latest data and then adding market knowledge to help them create and implement their best strategy.  Sounds like a good strategy, right?  Is this how your business works?

In our DPH world, each vendor and showroom has its own unique ways of market testing and the most popular process is each business’s perceived reality, your intuition or gut feelings.  You know it well; over a short period of time, a few showroom sales people sell a job or two in a matte black finish.  Then they frantically search for what manufacturers offer this finish and run to management proclaiming “We absolutely have to have this on the sales floor NOW!  This is getting really big!  We all think rose gold will be the next oil rubbed bronze… “ Well, we all know where that went.  Did anyone look at the showroom sales history and your product quote report?  How about calling a handful of manufacturers and simply asking them for a “most popular finish report”, noting the current percentages and a 3 to 6-month percent change?  Would that help?  Why in the DPH world is DATA not the foundation for market evaluation and forecasting?

I can hear the words ringing in my head – “I know what is going on in my business and my gut instincts have gotten me to where I am.”  This is the way so many DPH showrooms and manufacturers have governed their business since the 60’s, and yes, a lot of those businesses are still quite successful.  However, would you invest in a business with intuition as its sole source provider of market research? 

Perceived reality plays a large part in all of our lives, but it should be based on solid data from your business, one’s key vendor partners and monitoring leading style media.  Yes, it will take time to dig through your sales figures and quotes, as well as sharing vendor information and referencing 10 good style sources.  But at the end of the day, don’t you want to have the right product on display at the right time?  Don’t you want your customers to know your showroom is the place to see the popular, new and classic looks?

Suggested style emails subscriptions:

Design Milk

Wallpaper Magazine

Interior Design Homes

Also published on the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association’s blog: How Do You Forecast?

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