by Steve Feldman
What does your showroom have to do with online dating services and Virgin America airlines? Nothing. And everything.
I don’t know how many of you have ever had the pleasure—or misfortune, depending on how you look at it—of experiencing a Match.com or one of its clones. But here’s how it works. You enter various criteria you are seeking in a mate— geographical area, religion, education, physical features, number of heads and, voila, a list of people appears that theoretically are matches. You read their profiles and then, if you think they are matches, you send them an email. Oh, I forgot one minor detail: photos are involved.
The truth is that photo is no minor detail. Here’s why: If your photo looks like you just got out of bed, just completed a night of hard partying or are recovering from the swine flu, guess what? Don’t expect too many suitors.
The same applies if you are responding. It doesn’t matter if you are a member of Mensa; have a better sense of humor than Robin Williams, Steve Martin and Richard Pryor combined; have more money than Bill Gates or could win a personality contest. It all will be the best kept secret if that photo does not put your best face forward. It’s the first impression. It’s the front door.
And that’s where your showroom comes in. When your customers walk through that front door, you pretty much can lose a sale in five seconds if it is not well lit, not laid out properly or cluttered. If it’s not inviting, if the customer does not want to spend time there, it does not matter whether you have the best salespeople who can give her the most information, the best product selection, the best prices or the best installers, she’ll never know.
If you’re a member of a retail group, odds are they have helped you with this. Same if you’re a Mohawk Floorscapes or ColorCenter dealer. We’ve been working on a special project with them which you’ll see next month, and I’ve come to learn why the aligned dealer showrooms are all first-rate. When it comes to displays, Mohawk partners with Miller Zell, one of the world’s foremost merchandising concept experts that boasts Walmart, Target and many more as clients. When it comes to store layout, a firm with equally impressive clients, YSM Design, is employed. It all adds up to a positive and unique experience. And people tell their friends about positive experiences.
And that is where Virgin America comes in. I recently had the opportunity to fly this airline for the first time from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It was one of the most positive experiences I ever experienced on an airline. Everything was different. It started with free laptops for passengers to use in the terminal while waiting to board the plane. Upon boarding, all the shades were shut and instead of standard white lighting the plane was illuminated with purple, neon-like lights. It had the feel more of a dance club than an airline.
This company took the experience to the next level at the seat, which was relatively soft black leather. Instead of just using the screen to watch TV or listen to tunes on Sirius XM, I was able to order food and drinks, shop, play video games with a real, live remote control, and I don’t know if it was up and running, but there is capability to send emails and instant messages. Even the flight attendants’ messages were somewhat comical.
They say a consumer will tell three to five friends about a positive experience. I just told 16,000.