Tim Alexander, owner, HomeSource Builders, Asheville, N.C., credits his March 2010 launch of the HomeSource Design Center, with saving his company during the recession[Saving Grace: Design center proves itself a real business asset. The 1600-square-foot area is dedicated to product selections including cabinets, countertops, hardwood, ceramic tile, closet shelving, and hardware/drawer pulls. The center is in a high-traffic location on a main road in an upscale neighborhood of older homes circa early 1900s. The center receives ten to 15 walk-in clients per week. Alexander is always looking for creative ways to market the center to grow his business. Here are some of the ways he promotes the center:
Print advertising. The company purchases advertisements in Carolina Home + Garden, a local green building directory, and home show guides.
E-mail campaign. Alexander has collected contact information from 1,000 potential and current HomeSource Builders clients. He uses a monthly e-newsletter to keep in touch with them and includes a design center schedule of events.
Website. The HomeSource Design Center has its own website, which Alexander recently updated to make it easier for visitors to find and register for design center events. A “Need a Builder” tab takes visitors to a list and description of the company’s Gold Level Club members, a partnership that offers product purchase discounts to local builders.
Seminars. Alexander created a “Design and Wine” series with a nearby wine shop, and includes seminars on kitchen design trends, the remodeling process, energy-efficiency, and solar installations. The series also includes open houses for interior designers and architects. About 10 to 20 people attend each event.
Hosting events. Alexander opens up the design center for local homeowners’ association meetings, local business gatherings, real estate group functions, and a local home tour awards program. He doesn’t charge for use of the design center, because it provides the company exposure to a wide range of groups, and “keeps our name in the limelight.”
Coffee truck. Alexander offered space in the design center’s large parking lot to a high-end cappuccino truck that stays from early morning to mid-afternoon, Monday through Friday. The design center already had an outdoor display area with a water feature and samples of roofing, siding, stone and deck boards, and railings. Alexander set up a few chairs on the deck displays and local residents come by to sit and have coffee.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING
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