What Your Walls Say About You
One of the most difficult things to do in business is to visualize your showroom through the eyes of your clients. We become numb to how we really look because we see it every day. Because of this, terribly unattractive things start to creep into our presentation. This is a common problem in all areas of retail, but it can be especially damaging to us. Why? Because we are a visual business, judged by our ability to make things look great though or creative talents.
If we present ourselves as innovative, creative and fresh, then our clients will have a much better perception of our abilities. But it’s tough to do in a frame shop. Many of us still see ourselves as a limited service- the ones who make it possible for people to hang their art. If you see yourself this way, then your showroom probably isn’t a showroom. It’s probably more of a work studio that lacks the visual stimulation necessary to inspire clients to view you differently. Inspiring people today means being aware of fashion. It means a change in the way you perceive what you do.
If your showroom doesn’t reflect current trends in fashion, you won’t be perceived as capable of designing for the homes of today.
Times have changed; we no longer just provide a way to get art on a wall. Instead we must be able to enhance the décor and styles popular in today’s homes. We must view ourselves as designers who understand what is relevant in today’s fashion and feel comfortable assisting clients with these current trends.
If your showroom doesn’t reflect current trends in fashion, you won’t be perceived as capable of designing for the homes of today. Luckily our vendors understand this and they keep us stocked with mouldings that reflect the changing tastes of today’s fashion.
The problem is that it can’t stop there. It’s our responsibility to use what they have given us to inspire, simplify and create an environment that reflects the styles of today’s décor trends. Let’s take a look at how traditional frame shop appearance gets in the way of stimulating and inspiring today’s clients.
What’s with all those corners?
I don’t know who started the rumor that massive amounts of moulding corners covering every square inch of wall space tells clients that you “ have it all”, but I bet that person is struggling today. Hundreds of corner samples butted up in continuous rows only say confusing and overwhelming. They do absolutely NOTHING to inspire. Sure, it’s good to have lots of choices but do we have to show every one of them? And why do we have so many that have stayed in the same spot for so many years? Trends are changing, and our choices need to reflect that.
If you are just adding new corners into your wall as they come in and not making decisions on how to feature them, where they belong in your wall and what is going to come down when they go up, you aren’t inspiring anyone. Displaying rows and rows of corners just says “we have corners” – not a fashionable, creative message. So how can you make something that looks so unfashionable speak to today’s client?
First, you need a plan that organizes these moulding choices. I know we all have some way of organizing corners, but many of us use methods that are best for us- not for the fashion sense of our clients. Corners must be displayed by style- not by company, color or other methods of convenience. Décor styles are how clients furnish their homes. As a wise person once said, “frames are furniture for walls”.
This concept was taken to fantastic levels by Larson Juhl several years ago. They developed eight distinct fashion styles and grouped their mouldings into these styles. They invested huge amounts to promote the role of great frame designs within these trends. Help like this makes it much easier to create display walls that are fashion forward. It’s amazing how much easier it is to design for a client when you have all the samples in one spot that speak to their décor.
One more point about corner samples. It’s not necessary to display every profile of every color of every style. You can cut down on corners by limiting colors or profiles within styles. Most companies offer on line or printed catalogs of the entire line if you need to refer to them for additional choices.
Create Breathing Space
In advertising they say that the white area or negative space in a written ad is as important as the words you choose. The same concept applies to fashionable displays. Overcrowded rows of continuous mouldings cause the eye to see nothing in particular. They overwhelm the client and create confusion.
Creating space not only between rows of mouldings but also within style collections gives the eye a chance to rest on something- to be inspired. Spaces like these are perfect for putting frames into action. When you sample a particular style of moulding within the display area, you illustrate the power of the wall furniture to enhance that décor- you stimulate and inspire.
Inspiring through display brings comments like, “I’m going to find something to put in that frame. Wow!” They don’t even have the art; they just want that frame so bad in their home that they are going to find art for it! You have inspired them to action!
Silent Sales Tools
Sometimes we forget how much we know. The danger is that we can easily assume the client understands everything we are suggesting. The end result can lead to problems with finished products- the client gets something that differs from their expectations.
Using the design area to show samples of techniques, components and past projects reduces the chances for misunderstandings. It lets the client visualize. Common areas of miscommunication include reverse bevels, raised mats v-grooves. It’s easy to forget that many people are unfamiliar with things like these.
Create a list of creative framing techniques and incorporate them into the wall samples. Doing this will allow you to SHOW someone a fillet inside a mat instead of describing one with a little piece of wood.
Visualization engages the client. It places them on the same level as you and allows them to become inspired by your creative abilities. Put simply, it’s very difficult to sell what you don’t show.
The sky is the limit when it comes to helping clients visualize. You can never do enough. Technology has made it possible to help clients visualize in ways that were never possible. Today you can use software which shows clients what their completed project will look like before they buy. Other programs allow you to create layouts of object boxes and the mat cuts used to enhance these layouts before they are created. PowerPoint presentations can easily be created to display images of past projects for clients who have similar items to frame.
The more you help someone visualize the end result, the more satisfied the client will be and the more likely they will invest in creative framing. The more your gallery reflects the décor trends of their homes, the easier it is to stimulate their interest in furniture for their walls. Get creative with your showrooms. Replace old samples. Simplify overwhelming corner displays and create samples which reflect your creative abilities within the styles of today- you’ll be speaking a whole new language.