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Which Showroom Model Works Best?

Taking a Hard Look at How Your Present Yourself to Potential Clients

You all may be sick of hearing this, but with the introduction of the Control4 Certified Showroom program, I am going to beat the drum again. Those of you who do not have your own showroom or access to a manufacturer showroom need to take a long, hard look at your business and your customers and ask yourself, “Why?”

Would someone buy a $40,000 car without a test drive, just because the salesman came to their home and told them how great the car is? How can you expect your potential clients to take you seriously if you do not have the ability to take them to a showroom or your own home to show them what a system in operation does and is capable of?

At the very least you should be investing in a full-blown system in your home and be inviting clients to come by for a private demo. You can even offer them a drink or a snack while there and make it a bit of a social occasion to help them feel comfortable. Show them how you live in the space, how much easier it is to leave your home by pressing a single button at the front door that turns everything off, sets the thermostat to “away” and arms the alarm system. How the blinds open and close based on the level of sunlight so that there is reduced glare on the TV screen. How much can be played in every room with a simple voice command.

The major automation companies all realize how critical it is to have a dedicated space to show off their wares. Savant and Crestron have manufacturer showrooms and I know Crestron has several of these Experience Centers throughout the U.S. as well as in other countries, so dealers in major markets have a dedicated place to bring clients to show them all that Crestron is capable of. That is why Control4 announced its Certified Showroom program, to ensure that in each major market, potential customers have showrooms to visit that are up to the Control4 standards.

I spoke with my good friend Mark Feinberg, owner of Home Theater Advisors in NYC and a Control4 dealer about the Certified Showroom program. He agreed that it definitely shows Control4’s commitment to the client and ensuring a standard of excellence in showrooms. The benefits to the dealers who upgrade their showrooms to be certified are many-fold. They have exclusive early access to leads generated by Control4, additional marketing assets and discounts on demo gear. He also feels that there is some room for improvement. One of his biggest concerns is that, as a smaller dealer in a very expensive market, he does not have the capital or cash flow to open a large, walk-in, certified showroom. In fact, there is not a Certified Showroom within 18 miles of his office (which in NYC can be over an hour of drive time). It is just not fiscally responsible to do this in NYC for an individual dealer.

He is also concerned that the rich will get richer and everyone else well get left in the dust. Quantity does not equal quality and many of us with smaller business see how many take overs we do of large dealer installs where the dealer just dropped the ball. Mark is very jealous of the Crestron Experience Center that is less than two miles from his office—centrally located for most of his clients and easily accessible by cab, Uber and public transportation. He would love to see Control4 open some experience centers of their own, particularly in very high rent cities where individual, retail showrooms are just not cost effective for the individual, small to mid-sized dealer. He is hopefully that the Certified Showroom program is a large step in the right direction and that Control4 will also open dedicated, open-to-all-dealer showrooms as needed and that the Certified Showrooms will not preclude that from happening.

What do you all think? Would you rather a program like the Certified Showroom or would you prefer manufacturer owned Showrooms like Crestron and Savant?