Phantom Screens is a retractable screen. It pulls out of a wall to provide a screen when you want it and completely rolls away and disappears when you don’t. I want to screen off an 18 foot wide by 14 foot high glass wall because when it’s completely open it’s also an open invitation to bugs, squirrels, etc.
So I called Ontario Screen Systems Inc., Phantom’s Regional Distributor. You’d think they’d be interested in an order of this size, after all we’re not talking about a normal doorway! That’s a retractable screen of over 250 square feet and a sale of several thousand dollars. Also I’m a designer in a position to send MANY more projects their way.
I was told the only way to proceed was for me to type and fax them a letter on my letterhead requesting that they come out and measure.
Excuse me, what year is this? I asked if I could send them an email, nope! I even pointed out that with the email I could include a photo of the glass wall so they could see if it was feasible to install a Phantom Screen there given the position of the framing, the custom blinds, etc. Nope!
They are only interested in doing business with me if I follow their (so last century) policy.
At this point I’m making it my mission to find another company to deal with! Why should I have to waste the 10 or 15 minutes it would take to open Word, compose a letter, put a piece of letterhead in the printer, print the letter, dial their number into a fax machine, stand there to make sure it went through; when in three seconds I could shoot them an email that would even provide them with better information? If it’s an issue of believing that I’m a designer, they’d know that from my email address and a quick click to my either of my two websites!
For all I know after one look at the photo I want to email, they’d tell me a Phantom Screen can’t be used in that location. Wouldn’t that be better for them to know before they go to the time and expense of sending a person out to measure?
Beddington’s Bed & Bath is another example. They have lovely bedding at reasonable prices which is why I haven’t (yet) given up on them altogether. But, they’ve got a long way to go to serve the needs of designers!
I’ve spent thousands of dollars there in the last year alone and each and every time I deal with them there’s some issue that wastes my time. Usually it’s tied to their policy that only a store manager can authorize a Designer Discount. Now, I’m already in their system as a designer. Any employee can see I’ve filled out the required form and it’s in their binder (no it’s not on their computer, they must be in the same century as the screen company).
They don’t always have a manager in the store. So if I show up to purchase when she isn’t there I don’t get my discount. If they’ve back ordered an item and I have to make a second trip because they only had one pillow sham in stock when I bought the rest of the bedding, and I’m unlucky enough to arrive when the Manager is on lunch, well too bad for me!
If I want to shop at one of their other locations, the store that has me in their “designer binder” has to fax them a copy of the form. Of course there better be a manager on the other end to deal with it!
So here’s the thing. They’ll trust an employee or a supervisor with the keys to the store and access to their cash when the manager isn’t around, yet they won’t trust them to give a Designer a 10% discount? What kind of policy is that?
I’m not able to charge my client for the three extra visits I had to make to the store to complete their order. Do I need to book an appointment with a store manager to go shopping? Time is money and mine is worth a fair bit when I’m billing a client (or not because I’m wasting my time dealing with inefficient policies).
Home Staging expert Debra Gould is the author of 5 guides and the creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program.
An entrepreneur since 1989 and with an MBA in marketing and hundreds of home staging clients, internationally recognized home staging expert Debra Gould, The Staging Diva, is uniquely qualified to train others how to start and grow a profitable home staging business.