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

More REMODELING articles on marketing design centers: 

Taste Sensation: Wine tasting events build brand and community relationships.

Showroom Smarts: Making your showroom pay

This Old Show House: Using a showroom to market