How effective are your tactics for selling rugs to designers?

Check out the article “Rugs for Designers” by PORTE-COCHÈRE’s co-founder in the July 2013 issue of Rug News andDesign!

Rugs for Designers

By Ann Shriver Sargent

“It takes less time to do a thing right, than it does to explain why you did it wrong.”

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It has always been hard to be all things to all customers – but it has never seemed more imperative to try than in our current changing marketplace. The challenges and the opportunities nearly cancel each other out. Rather than despair, form a plan – know your channel!

Defining the nature of your business, your customers, employees and marketplace will eliminate much confusion, wasted energy, and expense. If you are a rug producer, having the right tools in the hands of the right sales partners is essential. If you need to buy rugs for your customers, you need access to the right products and samples. You also need confidence in your vendors.  In other words getting rugs sold requires the right partnerships between producer and specifier backed up with the right tools and training.

The question is what sales channel are you in and who are the right partners for you.  This matters because your marketing expenses and the management of samples and inventory of rugs has costs that can sink you if they are not aligned with your business model.

Selling hand knotted rugs is as much an art as making them and in today’s market the best sales partners for custom producers are designers. Experienced designers with the trust of their client and a commitment to a full service design model can be very successful at designing custom rugs.

dpf stairhall_down_one

Ann asked Denise Welch-May, Principal Designer at dpf Design:
Why was it important to work directly with a custom manufacturer to make the rug for the stairs?

Denise replied:
“The most compelling reason had to do with the shape of the stairs – the rug had to be woven tread by tread. It could have been cut out of straight goods, but there would have been so much waste it would have likely cost more and it would not have had the beautiful pattern it has.  We also wanted it to be durable so we wove it out of sunpat (1) fiber and chose natural tones with inherent color variations so we did not have to worry about dye lot issues.”

The top 10% of the industry will sell 80% of the custom rugs, but not without samples! These designers can work with samples and poms. But they have preferences in pattern, fiber and color.  Designers should select what samples they want in their library and producers should be attentive to what they like and want.  Watch and listen – if they like a pattern but not the colors – make some samples in colors and patterns they like for free. Do a few as a gesture of your interest in working with them.  You will build buckets of good will for future business.

Think of it this way, a chef with great recipes without access to great ingredients, will not make great food. An interior designer with a great design without access to great products will not have great rooms.

Just like a chef with a well stocked pantry, a designer will pull from their materials “pantry” the samples they are inspired by – if the sample comes from a producer they believe values doing business with them – that producer will get the purchase order to make the rug. Alternately, if they lack confidence in a producer’s delivery they will have a competitor knock it off.  Build a relationship and you will build your business!

Alexandra Angle image

Programmed, hand knotted, wool By Michaelian Kohlberg

Ann asked Alexandra Angle, Principal Designer & co-founder of Alexandra Angle Interior Design:
Why was this rug selected and how did it relate to the overall design of the room?

Alexandra replied:
“The overall décor of the room was designed with the rug in mind, it all came together at once.”

A full service designer is specifying everything you can see or touch in a room from the fittings and fixtures to the accessories. This represents hundreds of purchase orders on every project – and working with vendors that have their back is paramount, especially rugs, because of their impact on the design and the relative expense.

It is a loss leader for less experienced designers to be trying to sell fully custom hand knotted rugs. However, they can be very successful with a selection of beautifully colored and designed rugs that can be made to custom sizes as needed.  Both full service and consulting designers can do well with programmed rugs if the samples convey the colors and design and good photographs are part of their tool kit.

Designers want to make beautiful rooms but they are in business. Access to all the information they need to pull their presentation together is essential. This includes price, availability, lead-time, photographs, fiber and weave. Not all rugs can be sliced for a lamp cord and designers like to hide cords! Armed with beautiful samples of their choice, knowledge of the product, confidence in the producer, and a designer will sell the rugs!

1. Sunpat is a fiber similar to linen and hemp, but I am told is stronger and more lustrous  Sunapat is indigenous to Nepal, and like wool comes in different grades and finishes. Noreen Seabrook Marketing is the manufacturer of the staircase carpet.

Ann Shriver Sargent is a designer and industry insider who knows first hand how ideas become purchase orders. From marketing to designers to building brand loyalty, understanding how to support the designers who make the buying decisions for their clients is her focus. She is the visionary and co-founder of PORTE-COCHÈRE, a new sales channel and network for full service interior design firms and their suppliers in the high-end market.

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