you see in figure 1 is a typical trophy display. Its not that hot,
but its not that bad, either just a typical display. One
day in this particular showroom a customer walked in, looked around for
quite some time, and said to the proprietor, Is that all ya got?
shoppers words kind of offended the proprietor. So as soon as that
day was over, the owner had a meeting with her employees and said, We
dont want anyone coming in here and saying, Is that all ya
got? Weve got plenty of merchandise in the back here. Lets
put it in the showroom where people can see it! You can see the
results in figure 2.
guess what? That next day, two different people came in and said, Is
that all ya got?
this happened just before the Las Vegas trade show. So the shop owner
decided to fix this problem, and she said, Were going to order
some new stuff in Vegas and bring it back to show people! And she
did just that (fig. 3). But guess what people said? Is that all
wasnt the only person to fall into this trap. A lot of people think
that if customers want to see more merchandise, the solution is to have
a display in which every part and component they have is out for customers
to see. But customers will still say it: Is that all ya got?
me explain how this idea came about. Almost two decades ago, former TDMA
executive director Don Neer saw me give my presentation on showroom display.
He called it the Is That All Ya Got? seminar, and the name
stuck. The last time I gave this seminar was more than ten years ago,
so I will not apologize for some of the old pictures youll see in
this article. These pictures are extremely rewarding to me because they
wonderfully illustrate the showroom design principles Ill be telling
An Idea Is Born
me tell you how this whole idea came about. I have been in this industry
since 1965. As I would travel from showroom to showroom, I started noticing
that in the shops with a certain kind of display, it was easier for me
to interest the proprietor in the product I was trying to sell. What I
mean is, with one kind of display, the proprietor would spend an enormous
amount of time getting an order. But with other displays, customers could
come in, find what they were looking for, and place their order, all within
a short period of time. Then the proprietor was free for me to make a
presentation for whatever I had to sell him.
these highly effective showrooms looked like a win-win situation for both
me and the business owners I was calling on. I started trying to share
this idea with the people who had the poor displays, but I had no way
to explain what they should do. So I started taking photographs of some
of the better displays in my area. I carried a camera in my sample case
everywhere I went, and Id take a picture (with the owners
permission). If they wouldnt give me permission, Id take a
picture when they left the display area. Therefore, some of these pictures
this way I created a notebook with visuals. Now if someone would say,
Well, what suggestions do you have for my showroom? I would
get my notebook and show people what a good display really could be. But
when I saw some of the worst displays, people would look at my book of
good displays and say, Oh, yeah! That looks just like
mine! I realized that people would pull the good out of their displays,
ignore the rest, and say theirs was good.
so on my next series of trips, I started taking pictures of the worst
displays, and I put those in my book too. Now when people asked me for
advice, Id just start flipping through the book. When they saw the
good looking displays, theyd say, Yeah, I see a little bit
of mine there. But when I got to the bad displays, theyd say,
Oh my gosh, that looks just like mine! That was the
effect that I wanted. Thats how this all started.
it comes down to is this: Most of the people who have a good display have
a good business. Many of the proprietors who once had bad displays and
didnt correct them are out of business. Understanding this relationship
between successful displays and successful businesses is somewhat rewarding
to me, because it lends some credence to some of the philosophies Im
going to suggest to you.
year, Otis Veteto of R.S. Owens gave a seminar on first impressions. He
started it off by saying, This could easily be the most important
hour and half of your life. This comment put quite a bit of pressure
on himself, in my opinion! Let me be sure you understand that if the time
you spend reading these articles in EJ are the most important hours
of your life, youd better get a life!
I mean by that is, a display is not the whole business. Some of my best
clients have terrible displays and are still in business. You can still
build a business you can even have a great business without
a good display. Its not an essential part; it just makes the business
more fun. It makes it more creative. You and your employees will feel
better about what youre doing if you have a good display. Youll
feel even better if your display is growing along with your business,
instead of deteriorating or stagnating. Thats where this all came
from, and thats what were going to cover in this article series.
The E Word
taught three semesters of eighth-grade science. In the eighth-grade science
book I still remember it well the theme was entropy. Thats
not a word we use often, and probably one that few of you are even familiar
with. But entropy, especially in science, means the natural process of
going from a higher organization to a lower organization. What a great
application to the recognition industry and to the display used in most
of you probably thought that Figure 3 wasnt really a showroom
that it was really back in the workroom. It was not. That is the way that
dealer sold his awards. All the other pictures you see will also be real.
None of these are made up theyre just what I saw when I went
into those particular showrooms.
photos of the three showrooms at the beginning of this article were from
different businesses, but they were all at different levels of entropy,
and entropy happens for several different reasons. One is that you listen
too much to what your customers say. Ill never tell you not to
listen to your customers, of course. But you need to listen to what they
mean, not necessarily what they say. Understand why they
say what they do. Those customers who said, Is that all ya got?
didnt mean that the proprietor needed to put more things into her
display. What they meant was, Nothing that you have catches my attention.
So the solution of putting more stuff out isnt going
to help them see something they like. We need to build our displays so
that customers will see something that catches their attention, so that
they wont ask that question.
youve been in this business any time at all, you know that some
people are going to ask that question anytime, anywhere. Therefore, you
should always have something else available to show them, but you dont
need to have it displayed in your showroom. You should keep a junk
book ready for the shoppers who just love to go into the back and
get a deal on something. Im not saying you shouldnt cater
to those people. But dont let those types of people damage the display
you put in your main showroom.
Causes Of Entropy
thing that causes entropy in a showroom is a lack of sales resistance
in purchasing merchandise. Too often we come to a show and see so many
things wed like to have. There are so many beautiful products out
there, and theres so much of it! But you just cant
show everything out there thats nice. You cant even show all
of the nicest stuff! Theres just too much of it. So, you have to
make a decision about what to order, and, therefore, what to show. Weve
got to build sales resistance some way or another.
to the way it was 20 or 30 years ago, there are very few trophy salesmen
out there. As time goes on, I think therell be even fewer salesmen.
But with warehouses nearby in all parts of the country, it doesnt
make sense for the salesman to expect youll buy something every
time he comes around. And if he does, my suggestion is that you pick out
just one or two companies to buy from, just to whittle down the number
of products youre tempted to buy.
dont buy something just because you feel like you owe it to your
salesman. The longer youve been in the business, the more pressure
youll probably feel to do just that. If you know the guy, you probably
feel like you have to give him an order and buy something. But
possibly the greatest problem with our showrooms is that we fall in love
with too many different products. And while it takes some of the fun out
of it (to not let ourselves fall in love with the items we sell), it pays
to have discipline.
me give you an illustration. I fell in love with a car in 1966. It was
the first new car Id ever owned. I spent three times more on that
car than on any car Id ever bought. It was a Cougar, one of the
really early Cougars, and I fell in love with that car. Of course,
it was far beyond my means, but I bought it anyway.
mere nineteen months later, when a wrecker towed that thing off, with
a trail of oil leading out of my driveway and down the street, I said
I would never, ever fall in love with a car again. And I havent!
If you see the car I drive now, you know I dont fall in love with
cars. But I learned a lot from that experience. It caused me to never
again buy something just because it was something I really wanted. I think
we can learn from that.
our showroom starts to disintegrate (or show signs of entropy) because
the showroom itself doesnt seem to matter customers dont
seem to care whats in it, and they dont seem to buy much from
the displays. And as soon as that starts happening, the showroom matters
even less. What Im saying is, if people dont notice what youre
doing in your showroom, then they arent really buying what you have
on the shelves. That means theyre looking for other things in other
places, and in turn they pay less attention to it. So it becomes more
cluttered, it becomes less effective, and then it becomes useless. Ive
seen it in many of the showrooms Ive visited.
the look of your showroom isnt something you can or should do overnight.
What Im hoping is that as we go through some of the showrooms Ive
photographed, youll begin to pick up ideas and concepts and looks
that will work for you. Im depending on you to see what you like
and dislike and whats right and wrong about any given example. Notice
the color combinations, the relationship of the parts, the ceilings and
the floor. Every display room is different, whether its long or
deep, and youre going to have to tailor some of these concepts to
what you have available to you.
do you think I dislike about the showroom in figure 4? You may have noticed
that outgoing orders are beginning to stack up on the floor. Now, normally
this showroom does not look this way. The plaque wall is usually full,
without those gaping holes, and normally orders do not go on the floor.
But this is the entropy that Im talking about beginning to happen.
If you let this start up, then very shortly, things start to look like
often have people say to me, Roy, you wont believe this, but
do you know where I sell most of my trophies? They are astounded
when I tell them they probably sell most of them out of those boxes on
their floor. Because in many displays, including the one in Figure 5,
you really cant see anything on the shelves. Its all too crammed
together. So customers come in and say, Hmm, I wonder what somebody
else is buying? And they start looking through the boxes. If your
best seller is something thats on the floor, Id say its
time to work on your display!
6 is our objective to create a captivating display that catches
peoples attention. So how does one create a really outstanding display?
The answer usually centers around learning and using professional merchandising
techniques. And the easiest and fastest way to learn the fundamentals
is to look at what the experts and professionals have done in larger and
older retailing industries than the R&I industry. So before we look
at more examples from award showrooms, I want to spend a little time looking
at good displays in other retail markets. Theres a great deal of
knowledge we can gather from these markets. Thats where well
pick up next time, as this series continues on how to build a good showroom