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Tools Of Our Trade - Room Planning Visuals

Furniture World Magazine


Effective tools to capture their client’s
attention, give them a positive experience and aid in making the sale.

Today more than ever before, retail sales people need effective tools to capture their clients’ attention, give them a positive experience and aid in making the sale.

In the eighties the buzz word was Service, the nineties brought Added Value and now, it is Experience. A blending of service, added value and experiences are what our clients are looking for today.

The 90s’ did the most damage to our industry. Furniture retailers advertised "two for one", everything was on sale and we forgot to be professional. We were only interested in selling and surviving. That still holds true today, however, our clientele has changed. They are smarter, more educated and demand more services.

Think about how you like to purchase items. Do you want to be sold, or do you want to be educated, then asked to buy items that provide the best solution to fulfill your needs? Do you like high-pressure salespeople or those who will step back; give you room to think and them sum up the situation?

Many retail salespeople assume that because they are working with educated people, they don’t need visuals or presentations. They do! Wouldn’t you, if you were buying a room or house full of furniture? Wouldn’t you want to work with a sales person who would go the extra mile to demonstrate the finished look and feel of the created room?

The more information you can give to your clients, the more they will trust you. Most people don’t like to be sold. They want a salesperson to guide them towards the best possible purchase decision, while educating them, listening to them and caring about the end result. Once these basic needs are satisfied, the selling of specific furniture and accessory items becomes automatic.

For those of you who are unable to make house calls, a standard questionnaire can provide a way to help get to know your clients needs. If you pre-qualify your perspective clients on the phone, ask the several questions and request that they bring in as much information and “Show and Tell” as possible.

Don’t you want your clients to refer to you, as an “Expert” in your field and also a person that cares? The most successful salespeople are the ones who know their clients and their needs. Take the time to properly learn about your clients. They love to talk about themselves and you won’t invade their privacy if you show that you are interested in their lifestyle. Spend the time necessary to make sure that all the pieces fit and do the job correctly the first time. This is the experience you need to create!

The fastest way to create an experience is to engage customers through the use of a visual. Seeing how something will look, before making the decision, makes your client’s decision that much easier.

Designers, decorators and retailers all need to start from the floor and work up. If your presentation includes floor plans, your client will have more confidence in you and in the fact that all the specified pieces will fit and work in their space. If you can take the time to produce a finished look for a client, you will sell more furniture and accessories. You will also increase their level of satisfaction with you and your store. You sell more when you show more, and a floor plan does the job. Seeing is believing and there are many tools that can help you to create the look your client has trouble visualizing.

The first tool you can use is a magnetic room planner to create a top down view of your customer’s room. There are several on the market.

I often use The Board™ by MasterPlan Magnetics, available in two formats, with graphically detailed, scaled magnetic furniture symbols A floor plan can be created in minutes - turn it upside down and photo copy the results. The client wants to make a change? No problem. Revising a plan is as easy as adding or moving items. You are giving the client the information they need - in a very professional manner - without investing the large amount of time it takes to create a good quality drawing.

MasterPlan Magnetics’ Junior Board can be used by clients who want to create their own floor plans. Retailers can customize the front of this room-planning tool with their company name and sell it to customers.

A magnetic room planner provides valuable information that customers need to buy. It graphically depicts how furniture will fit in the room between windows and doors. It allows you to explain how furniture placement will affect the traffic flow in the room and how focal points and symmetry have been used to create a useful and beautiful setting.

Salespeople who want to close the sale by adding a perspective drawing of the finished room to their presentation have a number of options.

Sales consultants who don’t have the time to create finished drawings by hand nor have the technology and training necessary to computer generate complex room settings cam employ a third option. The E-Z Decorator System™is a unique decal system I use to create instant interior design illustrations on a series of clear overlays from the wall in. It comes in a 3-ring binder with over 2300 illustrations printed onto reusable static-cling decals. Room settings can be created by experienced users within minutes without picking up a pencil. These can incorporate architectural elements, windows, draperies, blinds, living and dining room furniture, bedroom, nursery and juvenile furniture as well as accessories, wallpaper and flooring.

Armed with a magnetic floor plan and perspective drawing, you are almost ready to make your presentation.

You can photocopy the presentation and hand color it or scan it and do a “Techno Presentation.” Your clients are shopping online, and you should be there too. If you have the time, you can incorporate electronic images of the products you are asking your customer to purchase. These can be scanned from catalogs, downloaded from manufacturer’s websites, obtained from your store’s inventory software or advertising materials.

Remember, your client is looking for an experience. Technology will help create that for you. After scanning in your presentation, you can email it to your client. This does not replace a personal presentation, but it serves to heighten your client’s interest and familiarity with your plan. The longer you leave your clients in suspense, the more time they have to change their minds.

Yes, preparing a visual presentation takes a little extra time. That’s why it is essential that you let your clients know how you run your business and what to expect. When there are no surprises, you have a happier client. They will wait for a day and perhaps a week if they know the rules. Clients need to be cherished and treated with the utmost respect. Communications will do that.



Margi Kyle, ASID, IDS has taught Interior Design at Sheridan College and The Academy of Design, written design columns for the Toronto, and Charlotte, North Carolina, Newspapers and Magazines. She has also hosted and produced numerous television shows including: “Dr. Decorator,” The Designing Doctor,” “Let’s Build a House,” “Lunch Time Live,” and “Moments with Margi.” She is available for group seminars on “Creating Today’s Presentations For Tomorrow’s Clients,” a six-hour course that will introduce you to technology and get you started creating presentation today for your clients tomorrow.Questions can be addressed to her care of FURNITURE WORLD at russ@furninfo.com.