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Cinde W. Ingram

Retailers connect via CFR roundtable

Retailers shared experiences, gave and sought advice for “Doing Business with Designers, Decorators and Commercial Accounts,” during the first Casual Furniture Retailers' Roundtable-By-Phone.

Karen Galindo of Greenhouse Mall stores in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and Greg Martin of Kolo Collection in Atlanta, served as moderators for the March 11 discussion. Both stressed the value of having a written policy that designers, clients and store sales staff understand. The policy should note designer discounts and charges, such as for delivery.

“In our designer policy, in bold underlined letters, it says: Designer must be installed from the beginning of the shopping process to be eligible for the discount program,” Martin said. “If your salespeople have these in place both for the end-user and for the designer, it's easy to diffuse a potentially uncomfortable situation.”

Having designers complete a simple form, containing contact information and tax identification number, simplifies the process and provides the store a growing list of design firms, which often bring lucrative repeat business.

Retailers can introduce their products, stores and services to designers by hosting a meet-and-greet party for designers, Galindo said. She advised retailers to remember who their guests are and cater to their upscale tastes by using top quality invitations, napkins and door prizes. As designer guests left the party, Galindo's staff provided written copies of the stores' designer policy.

Galindo told fellow retailers to “make sure designers know how much you value their business.” Partnering with designers for show houses and events builds long term relationships, she and Martin said.

Marcia Blake, designer and a blogger for Casual Living's Web site, participated in the CFR roundtable. “I am continually reminded that many of the interior designers do not really know that much about the casual furniture industry,” Blake said. “Now is a wonderful opportunity, when the trends are to bring the indoors out, and to create multiple outdoor living spaces, to try to educate the designers in your area that you are the experts in your field. You will be surprised what a great target market this will become if you attract designers that have the existing clients who are currently looking to improve, create and design outdoor living spaces.”

For more, visit www.casualliving.com.

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