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CFR Round-Table- By- Phone A Great Success!!

March 12, 2008

Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating in the first CFR Round-Table-By-Phone, the topic was: Doing Business with Designers, Decorators and Commercial Accounts. Karen Galindo of the Greenhouse Mall stores in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and Greg Martin of the Kolo Collection in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted this discussion.

    First, let me say that I applaud the CFR and its members for not only coming up with this fabulous venue for discussing business topics related to the casual furniture industry, but also for sharing tried and true systems and procedures with other members in a clear and concise manner.

    Second, I would like to commend both Karen and Greg for creating a Designer program in their stores that works well for the designers and promotes increased business and long lasting business relationships.

    It is clear that both Karen and Greg value the designers as true business partners and they are willing to work together with the designers and their clients to provide superb service and products. The Greenhouse Mall has a multi-tiered program that addresses every possible aspect of working with designers. They provide space planning, educational seminars, and full service to help the designers learn more about designing outdoor living spaces, the quality of casual furniture and the nuances that only those of us in the casual furniture industry are so well aware of. Kolo Collection also provides a detailed designer program and creates sales and marketing tools that help the designers sell the casual furniture products to their clients.

    It is very evident from listening to both Karen and Greg speak that they have spent a considerable amount of time and energy thinking through this process and implementing the programs in their respective stores. They did not simply write down a couple of guidelines for designers entering their store, they put a lot of time into developing the right type of program for their market. Then they trained their staff to truly understand the program details so that it could be implemented successfully. Each year they continue to work with their local designer base and network with new designers not yet familiar with their programs.

    These two stores are examples of how a well-run designer program can significantly add to the bottom line. Obviously this is something to consider during this economy when it is so very important to step up efforts to bring in business.

    There seems to be no reason to think that you as a dealer cannot compete with the local design centers. These are 2 completely different stores in 2 very different markets being very successful working with designers. I would encourage you to take this opportunity to review your own practice regarding designers and challenge yourself to see if you can create a program that works for you and the designers in your own market space.

    As a designer myself who specializes in the outdoor living arena, I am continually reminded that many of the interior designers do not really know that much about the casual furniture industry. 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.

    Let me know what your outside views are?

    Write a comment below and share your experiences with designer programs in your store.

    These are my Outside Views!
    Thank you,

    Marcia Blake