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Lighting expert makes case for courting designers

The interior design channel is growing, but lighting showrooms often fail to court designers and are therefore leaving money on the table, according to one lighting expert.

Designers offer a unique opportunity to lighting showrooms in multiple ways, said Tim Stumm, creative director for Z-Lite. Stumm was the moderator of the panel “Working with designers to grow your showroom business” during the American Lighting Association’s virtual symposium this month.

First, showrooms should join and participate in such associations as the ASID, IDS and Design Guild, Stumm told Home Accents Today ahead of his panel. Then they can offer up their spaces to host association events, for example, or provide designers a conference room or area to meet with clients. Clients who then have great experiences in the showrooms through their designers will tell their friends. “The best way that you build a business is by word by mouth.”

Designers also need lighting for showhouses and other events, so lighting showrooms can engage in that way as well, Stumm added. It’s all “brand awareness for the showroom.”

Designers bring such energy, he said. “Why would you not want that in there?”

Designers can also help keep showrooms on top of trends, Stumm said. If a showroom sees more than one designer coming in and asking for something in particular — such as purple, for example — then “you better get some purple on your floor,” said Stumm. Sometimes showroom buyers haven’t been out in the market for months, or are just exposed to what manufacturers are showing them, he said. But if local designers are looking for boho styles, for example, then the showroom knows to buy boho the next time they go to Lightovation.

Showrooms also have to make sure designers are aware of the benefits of shopping with them, whether that is designer discounts, expertise about how to layer light, recommendations on Kelvin temperatures and more. “There are just things you can get from a showroom than you can’t get online.”

If designers explain that they shop online for the free shipping, showrooms should then show designers the lines that they offer that also have free shipping, if that’s what’s important to them, he said.

One can’t just sit at their desk and wait for the phone to ring anymore, said Stumm; showrooms need to be more proactive. And now is the time. “Everybody is refreshing their houses right now. It’s incredible. You can refresh the whole dining room by just replacing the fixture and redoing the paint. It’s just that easy.”

Joining Stumm on the panel was Joe Rey-Barreau, an ALA consultant, designer and professor, Bob Mills of Lighting Inc. and designer Lisa McDennon.

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