Revenue under $5 million
Find out what makes each of this year’s 10 SOTY Revenue Under $5 Million category candidates stand out from fray.
Crest Lighting, New Lenox, IL
1. Complimentary house calls
Based on feedback from its members, the Houzz social media platform named Crest Lighting “Best in Service” in its 2017 Best of Houzz competition. And it’s not hard to see why. Crest offers complimentary jobsite visits to help customers feel confident about their choices and where to put them. Crest has also been known to personally deliver items to customers.
2. Local presence
But Crest isn’t satisfied to rest on its laurels; the showroom makes sure it stays in the local spotlight and offers itself as the lighting expert whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. Local AM radio station WJOL featured Crest during last year’s National Decorating Month. Products from Crest and its parent company Paramont EO also appeared on Chicago’s CBS 2 news in advance of the business’ participation in the 2017 Ideal Home Show.
3. Premier partnerships
Leveraging relationships with brands like Hinkley and The Littman Group, Crest offers customers a larger inventory of stocked product as well as perks like hassle-free exchanges. “We strive to offer unique products and [due to] years of ethical business conduct and a demonstrated ability to sell, we’re able to obtain deals and discounts that help us to show more product in our showrooms while staying within our merchandising budget,” says Amy Fimbianti, showroom manager.
4. Out-of-the-box thinking
Crest builds important partnerships outside of the lighting industry, as well. To add value for its customers, Crest invited Seigle’s Cabinet Center to share some of its showroom space. The concept has been so well received, Crest is currently working on plans to bring in an outdoor landscaping company, as well.
Ferguson Enterprises, Clive, IA
Long-regarded as one of the go-to spots for kitchen and bath, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery is building a reputation for lighting, as well. Upon entering the showroom, Ferguson hopes customers will take one look at the Schonbek crystal chandelier hanging above a freestanding soaking tub and know they’re in for a treat.
2. Lasting relationships
Customer service is at the heart of everything they do. Ferguson takes pride in building lasting relationships with their customers whether they’re homeowners, builders or designers.
3. Showroom camaraderie
One of Ferguson’s secrets to success is the relationships showroom staff builds and maintains with each other. “We motivate each other because when one of us succeeds, we all succeed,” says showroom consultant Amber Pirillo.
4. Trade show savvy
Thanks to their background as a kitchen and bath business, Ferguson goes to more than just the lighting-focused trade shows. Ferguson also sends its lighting associates to vendor-sponsored training sessions as well as to events like the local Home + Remodeling Show.
Illuminating Interiors, San Diego, CA
1. Power of reinvention
One year ago, Illuminating Interiors was what general manager Anne Thomas Keen calls “a hot mess.” The lack of an organized and intuitive layout was among her chief complaints. To give her showroom a fresh start, Keen initiated a storewide sale to move out older product, followed by a complete renovation of the store’s interior space. The result: updated product, new vendors, new clients – and a showroom that makes its staff proud.
2. Energy-building activities
The busy showroom keeps staff on their toes, but Keen makes sure there are plenty of opportunities to recharge and inspire. In addition to a once-a-week sales meeting to talk about what’s happening at the store, sales representatives from Illuminating Interiors’ manufacturer partners visit at least once a week to tell staff about new products. Together, the group attends the Dallas and Las Vegas markets and visits vendor factories.
3. Programs for designers
Illuminating Interiors works closely with the American Society of Interior Designers and offers continuing education unit credits to area designers who attend product training sessions led by sales reps. The showroom also features a designer’s studio, where they can meet with their clients or work on projects.
San Diego traffic can be challenging, so to compete with web-only retailers, Illuminating Interiors goes above and beyond to help any and all customers who walks through its doors. “We had a customer bring in an old chandelier with a broken socket,” Keen says. “We are not in the repair business but he drove over an hour, and our guys can fix anything. So we got it done.”
Lucia Lighting & Design, Lynn, MA
1. Working kitchen
Among its many room setting vignettes, Lucia Lighting & Design, gives a special nod to the kitchen. With built-in features like undercabinet lighting and a lighting control system, the showroom’s “working kitchen” shows customers how different products can transform their own kitchen spaces.
2. Memorial scholarship
In 2012 owner Lucy Dearborn established the Cynthia Blaesteri Ray
’03 Memorial Scholarship to honor the memory of a store employee who was killed by a drunk driver in 2010. Every year, Lucia Lighting & Design awards a $1,000 scholarship to a local interior design student at Endicott College.
3. Scheduled social media
“Social media is a job in itself, and it is hard to stay active on it while also running a full-time business,” Dearborn says. But Lucia Lighting & Design manages to do both thanks to a schedule of pre-determined topics for its posts on Facebook. Themes like “Pillow Talk Tuesdays” and “Favorite Fixture Fridays” take the pressure off and help make posting more of a no-brainer.
4. Custom designs from local artists
Lucia Lighting is a popular destination for the “shop local” set. The showroom prides itself on partnerships with local artists like Tracy Glover Studio, Connie Kolman and Studio Bel Vetro, which create custom designs for lighting customers.
Montreal Lighting & Hardware, Montreal, Quebec
1. A clear view
To help customers visualize different lighting styles in their own homes, Montreal Lighting keeps things simple by installing fixtures on drywall ceilings and walls rather than on tracks or grids.
2. High-end service
Montreal Lighting & Hardware prides itself on a business model built around white glove service and offering a ‘carriage trade’ or high-end experience. That starts the moment customers step into the showroom. Staff greets customers and offers espresso, cappuccino or tea paired with fresh biscotti and dark chocolate as they shop.
3. Community involvement on a new level
The showroom has supported local charities for years and now has plans to take their philanthropy to a whole new level. Montreal Lighting & Hardware will donate its showroom as the venue for several upcoming important charity functions. In May, 200 guests will visit the space for an evening fundraiser benefitting the Centre de Cancerologie Fondation Charles-Bruneau, a pediatric cancer center serving the entire population of Quebec.
4. In–house workshops
Montreal Lighting & Hardware hosts design professionals at “5 à 7” happy hour workshops six times a year in its Lutron Experience Center. Each seminar features speakers on a range of such topics as home automation, specific products, social media and best business practices. “These events allow us the privilege of helping design professionals expand their knowledge and grow their businesses,” Naimer says. “They strengthen our client relationships, build increased loyalty, and further position those of us at Montreal Lighting & Hardware as experts in our field.”
NorthWest Lighting and Accents, Mount Prospect, IL
1. Small displays that make a big impact
NorthWest Lighting and Accents wows customers with large brand-specific galleries featuring folks like Swarovski, Hubbardton Forge and Hinkley. But even its small displays pack a mighty punch. A Tech Lighting mini gallery proved so successful that the showroom added another. The new display features all the bells and whistles of Tech’s latest recessed linear system as well as light boxes showcasing the newest trends and offerings from Tech.
2. Internship program
In addition to learning opportunities for local aspiring designers, NorthWest offers an internship program drawing local interior design students to educate them about the world of lighting design. According to Marketing Manager Amanda Wolfe, the showroom often gets a new crop of lighting designers out of the effort.
3. Internal LED testing
NorthWest tests and evaluates each and every LED product before it agrees to carry the line, making it a trusted resource for manufacturers, designers and architects working in the field. “Our suppliers routinely ask us to evaluate and consult on new product offerings and features,” Wolfe says. “They want to discuss market viability of new product concepts to gauge customer reception prior to development.”
4. An engaging blog
Northwest has an outlet for sharing its expertise with consumers, as well. The showroom’s WordPress blog features a steady flow of photos and lighting design ideas curated by employees from all areas of the business from marketing to management.
Pace Lighting, Savannah, GA
1. At home feel
To create an atmosphere that feels “homey and luxurious,” Pace Lighting installs every one of its fixtures and fans onto finished walls or ceilings “just as they would be in your home,” says showroom CEO Lisa Dixon. Every light fixture is fully functional, dimmable and connected to the showroom’s control system, so sales staff can isolate them one at a time.
2. Accreditation for all
Pace’s entire sales staff is accredited through the American Lighting Assn. Two employees are lighting associates and three more have gone on to become lighting specialists courtesy of the showroom. Pace treats its veteran employees (on an rotating basis) to an all-expenses-paid trip to Dallas for Lightovation.
3. Industry friendships
In business since 2001, Pace Lighting is a respected member of the lighting community. “I now count people I only see in person twice a year but interact with almost daily among my closest friends,” Dixon says. “I’ve built a loose support structure of vendors and showrooms that I can resource with questions, thoughts, complaints and just general friendship. The lighting industry is my passion and my family, too.”
4. “Little things” that add up
Friendly smiles, unlimited personal attention, in-room delivery and troubleshooting: These things really add up. “It isn’t one little thing we do that elevates our customer service, it’s all the little things we do added together that create a customer experience that is enjoyable and successful,” Dixon says.
Passion Lighting, Grapevine, TX
1. Start-up cred
In 2007, Bruce Paul was a man with a dream of opening his own lighting store but very little else. He started from scratch, and over the next 10 years, he paid back $750, 000 in start-up loans, grew his staff to 16 employees and added a 4,000-square-foot warehouse.
2. In-house landscape design
An in-house landscape lighting design and installation team were part of the plan from day one. Now, landscape makes up 10 to 15 percent of showroom sales and is a big differentiator between Passion and its competitors in the market.
3. Thoughtful website
Recently, Passion Lighting completed an overhaul of its showroom that included new product, flooring and wall finishes. But it didn’t stop there. To help create brand continuity, Passion tackled its website next. “We completed a brand new website roll out for the second time in 24 months, leveraging the new look of the showroom with our website design and layout,” Paul says.
4. Dedication to community
During its 10 years in business, Passion Lighting has donated $15,000 to Cook Children’s Hospital to support its efforts to serve children in North Texas. Even as Passion Lighting was losing money during the economic downturn, the showroom continued to support the hospital.
The Lighting House, Shelburne, VT
1. Staff-led merchandising
At The Lighting House, salespeople do more than sell lighting, they put the products together and install them, as well. “Each sales person has to physically put the fixture together and hang it up themselves, so they really get a feel for and better knowledge of how the fixture operates and the materials that are used,” says Marketing Manager Zach Blanchard.
2. Team-tied bonuses
The Lighting House encourages top-notch customer service and builds camaraderie among its sales staff by setting team sales goals. “So if you happen to get caught up with someone else's customer, you are going to treat them just like they’re your customer because all the sales go to our final numbers,” Blanchard says.
3. An extensive email list
Customers can sign up for the showroom’s email list of preferred customers while they’re browsing or creating an online wish list at thelightinghouse.net or while they're in the showroom at the point of sale. Those who join receive news on current and upcoming sales, deals and the latest products. “Every time we do a blast out to our list, we get a handful of customers who come in saying they got our latest email and want to see a specific product or to order something new,” Blanchard says.
4. Display programs
The showroom also takes advantage of partnerships with a handful of vendors who offer up good deals on displays and display resources. For example, Hubbardton Forge recently sent a team out to the showroom to repaint walls and rearrange fixtures in an effort to update the manufacturer’s display and make it easier for customers to navigate.
WeGotLites, Staten Island, NY
1. DIY displays
Located in a sprawling warehouse in a Staten Island industrial park, WeGotLites doesn’t look like much from the outside. But what it lacks in curb appeal, it more than makes up for inside with creative vignettes that CEO Joshua Marshal and his staff build themselves using things like recycled materials and hand-molded bricks.
2. Group volunteer projects
The WeGotLites staff works together to take care of its community. In addition to frequent donations to local schools and charities, around the holidays showroom staff shops for, wraps and hand-delivers toys to children being treated at the local children’s hospital.
3. House calls
If one of its clients is having trouble assembling products at home, WeGotLites comes to the rescue. “Recently an elderly customer was having trouble finding someone to assemble and install the new fixture she purchased for her kitchen,” Marshal says. “We sent one of our employees to her home to put it up for her at no charge.”
4. Onsite customization
As a teenager, Marshal began making lighting fixtures from lamp parts. Given his passion for creating, it’s no surprise that his lighting showroom offers its customers the option to customize fixtures based on crystal quality and color, finish and size.
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