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Challenge and Solution: Showroom Location and Type

Two CEDIA Award–winning integration firms offer their advice on where to put a showroom — and how to use it effectively

A recent post on the CEDIA Community message board asks: “Showroom location — location — location! Does it really matter?” Member Hannes De Wett posts, “Is it worthwhile paying three times more in rent per square meter for a retail showroom in a commercial center (like a mall) with high-density foot traffic or are you better off paying less on the outskirts of a retail zone? In short, do customers come to the product or do you also have the walk-in customers making the extra rent worthwhile?”

Showroom – Wired Life
Wired Life’s Melbourne Experience Center won the CEDIA Awards Showroom category in the Asia Pacific region in 2020.

While there’s no “one size fits all” answer, a definite trend among integrators is a move away from a “kick-the-tires/just-browsing” retail space to a dedicated experience center. That’s evidenced by the finalists and winners of the Showroom category in the CEDIA Awards over the last several years. Wired Life’s Adam Begley, whose Melbourne Experience Center picked up top honors in the Asia Pacific region in 2020, says, “Essentially, we’re smack-bang in the hub of pretty much most of Melbourne’s five-star architect firms. We even share the same building with a really high-end architect next door.” Once Wired Life had picked a sweet spot, Begley went out during a recent event and met all the architectural firms that were literally within walking distance of his showroom. “That was a really effective way to start getting some of those clients in the door, and we’ve actually managed to get a lot of customers out of that.”

Related: 2021 Showroom Showcase Gallery

Given the geography of Colorado’s ski slopes and the sprawling nature of Cinegration’s client base, that firm had some different challenges. Shelby Schwartz, part of the team that designed the company’s 2020 CEDIA Award–winning Arvada Experience Center, explains, “For us, it was kind of tricky because we do a lot of work in the mountains up in Breckenridge — but then all along the front range, too. We had to find a central location that our front-range clients can easily get to, and that our Breckenridge clients might be willing to come down to as well. We considered building our own space. We looked at some solutions that resembled a warehouse-hybrid showroom. Ultimately, we decided to put our experience center in conjunction with our current office, which is located right at the base of the mountains. It’s worked out really well for us because our salesmen are in their offices all the time.”

Putting the Experience in the Center

Once the physical space was determined, then the question of what the client would actually experience was paramount. Cinegration’s Eric Fisher says, “We created a demo button that tells the story of ‘a day in the life’ — it’s about a two-to-three-minute demo that gives an overview of everything we do, from changing the color temperature of the lighting to turning on and off the TVs, playing music, and opening and closing shades. It creates a nice story to break the ice when people come in. When people start experiencing the solutions, they can envision it in their home versus just seeing it on a piece of paper on a proposal.”

Showroom – Cinegration
Cinegration Arvada Experience Center won the Showroom category in the 2020 CEDIA Awards.

It’s the same for Begley, who used the small footprint of his showroom to create a faux “luxury apartment.” “I constantly get asked: What do I do?” he says. “Sure, I can give someone my whole elevator pitch about automation and what it does, but it’s vastly more effective to demonstrate to the client exactly how they might utilize the technology we design and install in their own home. And that’s a huge benefit.”

Related: The Showroom as a Destination

Both Cinegration and Wired Life have seen better-than-expected ROI on their spaces, too. “If I had to give advice to other integrators out there, I would definitely say, make the jump, build that showroom,” advises Begley. “Beyond our success, it’s about educating the public about what’s out there. And that can only help other integrators, and the design and build community, too.”

Learn More

Cinegration: [CEDIA Member Since 2013]

Wired Life: [CEDIA Member Since 2019]

Awards Info: