Consumer Errors 101

window furnishings right

Window coverings are in investment in the home; they add value to the home, and they can solve a number of problems. 

Some of the main Consumer Errors that we often find are outlined below…

window furnishings right

Consumers who buy the cheapest product

Window coverings can be expensive. But they are an investment. They will pay for themselves in no time in both use value, and the value they add to your property. There are many budget options in the business, who will skimp on fabric quality and quantity to keep their prices cheap. Consumers should educate themselves thoroughly before purchase.

Consumers who use fragile products on West facing windows

The Aussie sun is extremely damaging and you will simply be wasting your money if you do not purchase heavy duty products and materials for west facing windows. Find products that will not fade, warp or disintegrate under these harsh conditions. It is best to speak to a professional to discuss options available and ensure you are not throwing money away.

Consumers who don’t consider window size

Consumers are sometimes unaware that there is a maximum size you can successfully make a blind; and perhaps multiple blinds are the solution. Alternately, narrow windows may not be the right choice for roller blinds or shutters. They should speak to a specialist to discuss the best options for difficult window sizes.

Stack

The vertical stack of a blind is important, especially on a door so you don’t bump your head when it is pulled up. You may also have a view that you don’t want to obstruct. Horizontal stacks are for curtains. When you open your curtains, you must consider how much room you have for them and if they will impede any view you want to leave open.

Consumers expecting full blockout from all products

Full blockout can only be achieved from curtains with pelmets. Blockout roller blinds have small gaps at the sides and the top, whilst shutters have very small gaps all the way round. Keep this in mind if you need total darkness in a bedroom or home theatre space.

Consumers not looking for quality features such as lined curtains

Lining protects the fabric and also the other furnishings in the room. The extra cost for lining could save thousands in the long term and buyers should be aware of this when they are making their choice.

Consumers not comparing apples with apples

This sounds obvious, but if you are getting a number of quotes, they can vary greatly due to a great number of variables, such as fabric quality and price.

Consumer DIY Installations

Just don’t do it. Ever. In most cases, it will reduce or void the warranty on your products.

Consumers not considering the era of their homes

A period home should not be “modernised” with minimalist window treatments; it simply doesn’t work. If you don’t like elaborate drapes, ask your window covering professional to give you some options.

Consumers who don’t think about street appeal

Using plantation shutters on colonial windows may not seem like a problem to some, but from a designer’s perspective and the view from the street, they can be a real eye-sore with so many lines going horizontally and vertically. You should try not to use too many different styles of window coverings in your home as it can look cluttered, and lack cohesion. Another important note is to be careful of the colours of blinds and sheers, as these can be seen from the outside, and need to look good with your external features.

If consumers find a recommended expert in window treatments, they will avoid costly mistakes and have functional and gorgeous window coverings that will last for many years to come, as well as add a lot of value to their home.

 

Escape with style this summer season

Dulux Colours 2018

As we enter the warmer months of the year, it is important to consider functional
elements of your home for keeping you cool this summer.

When it comes to window furnishings, there doesn’t have to be a compromise between functionality and fashion.

The choice of window fittings is one of the core elements used to bring your interior design theme to life.

The textures, shapes, and colours you choose will act as a base for your style, just like the floor furnishings and paint you choose.

With so many options available, it’s easy to get confused as to what is the best option for your space.

Stylish timber shutters are a great way of adding a functional focal point to a living space, and can be used as room dividers to maximise both privacy and light flow.

Make the most of timber shutters by contrasting a room styled in light tones with dark timber shutters to create a moody feel. Or alternatively, open a light space up even more, bringing it in line with a heritage, coastal or even Hamptons style using classic white shutters.

For an ultra-modern look, roller blinds are the go-to option as they can be seamlessly integrated into a room.

Sheer blinds offer an ideal blend of privacy and natural light, while block-out blinds offer the upmost in privacy, meaning that there are options for every room.

If you’re looking to soften the feel of a room, there is no going past sheer curtains, which can provide a sense of homeliness, and also luxury if you take them up to the ceiling or into ceiling pelmets.

Consider pairing sheers with roller blinds or shutters, to create a flexible privacy solution, offering the perfect combination of style and functionality.

As far as colours go, Dulux in their 2018 Escapade Range predictions tell us:

“Organic shapes are offset by solid forms in a playful blending of styles. Don’t be afraid to mix up your decades with 70’s and 80’s references and take a chance on unexpected colour combinations.

Tones of pale mint, teal and blue promise plenty of light-hearted fun. Bursts of mustard yellow cut through the tonal colour effect. Shades of pink range from pale and soft to saturated and bold.”

Why not try white shutters with a mint or pink room theme, bringing you right up to date in colour and style? For more colour trends, see https://www.dulux.com.au/specifier/colour/colourforecast/2018/

The Fashionline Team.

(Photo credit: Dulux Australia, Escapade Colour Range 2018)

How to dress Difficult Windows

bay window shutters

Have you ever wondered how to dress a Bay Window? While it’s a delight to have original period features, they can prove to be decorative challenges. Bay windows are grand and easy on the eye, and will open a space far more than a basic window. There’s more glass on show and the design projects across three planes. This lets in so much valuable sunlight and offers expansive views up and down the street – it’s why bay windows have been so popular over the years. But it’s these benefits that also create difficulties for bay windows. Sometimes the sunlight coming in can be too much, and privacy can be a problem because of people being able to look in … from all angles.

The expert advice … dress a bay window with shutters. To start with, installing made-to-measure shutters means each panel is designed to fit each section of the window. The outcome is something customised and beautifully unique for your space. You can adjust each individual panel to let more or less light in, or for privacy reasons. Also, with custom colour options available from so many suppliers, you can style with the perfect shade for your room and furniture.

…And what about a Crittall Window?

EPSON MFP image

The current trend for open-plan living and the industrial style have seen a surge in Crittall Windows. They’re often associated with the Art Deco period of the 1930s, but their history actually stretches back to the Victorian era. Their ongoing popularity proves that exceptional design never goes out of style. The delicate, thin lines of the steel frame have an industrial but very contemporary aura. The real appeal though is how Crittall Windows allow a room to be zoned, and create a sense of continuity between the living and outside areas. If you worry that they look too sterile or cold, then lined curtains can add a splash of colour, softness and privacy when needed. The insulation they also provide can keep the space warmer over winter and reduce the harshness of the frame, while still letting it be the feature you are after. The most important thing to think about when you’re dressing Crittals is to extend the track as far and as wide as it can go so the curtains can be pushed back to maintain the integrity of the Crittal frame. You don’t want to hide it.

Shop Win Travel

SHOP WIN TRAVEL

If you’re thinking about updating your home with new window furnishings, now is the time. Right now, all Fashionline stores are offering you the chance to instantly win a $200 eftpos card plus you’ll go in the draw to win the major prize of a Flight Centre voucher valued at $4,000.

Perhaps you’re thinking about keeping the warmth inside during the cooler months with some Holland blinds or curtains, or even adding some extra protection and security with outdoor awnings. You may even be considering enclosing the alfresco area with some contemporary and protective outdoor blinds. Whatever the case, the time to buy from a Fashionline retailer is now.

Upon purchase you will be given a unique code to enter online that may prove to be an instant winner of a $200 eftpos card. Whether you’re an instant winner or not, you’ll immediately go into the draw for the major prize of a $4,000 Flight Centre voucher, giving you the opportunity to take that holiday of your dreams.

The competition runs from Sunday, August 13, 2017 until midnight on Sunday, September 10, 2017. There are eftpos cards to be won weekly and the major prize will be drawn on Wednesday, September 13.

So if you’re in the market for some home improvements, look no further than your local Fashionline retailer and you might just end up winning in more ways than one! Good luck.

Already have your unique code? Visit the competition entry page here.

Mid Year Design Update

IMAGE FL BLOG

Let’s take a mid-year look at Interior Design Trends of 2017 that have been coming in … and those that will be heading out of style as the year continues.

IMAGE FL BLOG

  1. Dark furniture is coming back in

Darker pieces of furniture are back, and we will see plenty of richer and darker tones in side tables, coffee tables, cabinets or consoles.

Green is also coming in and these rich dark green colours work perfectly with the deep timbers, as well as making a room feel peaceful and luxurious. Think ornaments, cushions and window furnishings.

  1. Blonde wood is going out

Blonde wood was all the rage in 2016, but is now on the fade out.

  1. Terracotta is making a come back

Believe it or not, 2017 shows a surge in terracotta pots and terracotta tiles and décor items. Pair this look with some beautiful plants, and it will lift a space and give it some life.

If you keep the terracotta as a matte finish, it will not only add depth but also warmth to your home.

  1. Copper is going out

The 2016 copper trend is on its way out, according to leading Interior Designers, so keep that in mind.

  1. Cork is making a comeback

Not only is cork a stylish material that also adds warmth and texture, it is ideal for absorbing noise in our increasingly spacious, open-plan homes.

  1. Midnight Blue and Navy are going out

According to Interior Designers everywhere, in 2017 we say goodbye to midnight blues and navys. “Goodbye.”

  1. Woven baskets are on trend

Whether it be a linen hamper, a rustic planter or a woven lamp shade, woven baskets are making way to be a popular and trendy piece for any space. Keep this in mind when pairing the look with window furnishings.

  1. Scandi is out

That’s right. Scandi will be gone soon. There is a place for it, but more in the refined, traditional sense, rather than in the more generic way that we have seen it in recent times.

Of course, trends are always coming and going. Individuality is the real value item in any space. The best design happens when you take bits of the trends that are appropriate to you, and reproduce it in a way that is unique and individual.

 

The Fashionline Team.

Get in the mind of the buyer

Vertical

Aesthetics and function combine when it comes to furnishing windows. Here are some things to consider that will be, or should be, top of the buyer’s mind…

A touch of Style

The aesthetic impact of window coverings is often the main motivating factor for buyers, as the right choice can completely transform a living space.

Social Media has had a huge impact on buyers -those beautiful inspirational pictures are generally centred on the style and look people want to achieve in their home, whether it’s contemporary, minimalist, country, industrial, beach hamptons, french provincial etc.

Pay attention to the pictures – there’s a reason they are showing you Instagram images. A buyer will want to “copy” the look and may go elsewhere if you try to steer them away from what they are showing you. Make sure you show them that you really ‘get it’ – the specific decorative style and colours they are after.

Control the light

Light control is an important benefit delivered by window coverings, and a facet that shouldn’t be overlooked, as it has a big impact on a home’s liveability. The buyer should know what they want, but you can ask questions relating to the room, what it’s used for, do they need to watch TV and movies in the room? What is the aspect and the warmth/cold that it endures? Make sure they’ve really considered light control and flexibility before purchase.

Ensure Privacy

With the majority of Australians living in urban areas and with neighbours close by, privacy is an important consideration.

If you can see through window coverings during the day, from inside at night, it will be the reverse, and people outside will be able to see straight in. So choosing the right coverings ensures a home remains private for your buyer.

Create Mood

The mood of a house is absolutely a function of the window dressings. Mood is influenced by many factors, including light, privacy and style – which can all be summed up in the right window treatment. Again, taking note of the pictures your buyer shows you is really important, and don’t forget to ask questions – what kind of mood do you see in this room? Peaceful, quiet… or fun, bright and active?

Deliver Thermal Comfort

Windows are essentially ‘holes’ in a home, so keeping the heat out in summer and the warmth in during winter is an important job for a home’s window coverings. They also help to reduce electricity bills.

Well-fitted, custom-made window coverings will deliver the highest level of thermal comfort, so make sure you bring this up when speaking to customers.

Add to Energy Efficiency

With Australians typically spending 41% of their household energy expenditure managing their home’s temperature, the right window coverings can save money, all year round.

Muffle Sound

Many people don’t consider the acoustic benefits of great window coverings.

A room with lots of hard surfaces that echoes, or hearing road noise from inside can be pretty unpleasant. But choosing the right window coverings can help dampen these sounds, so find out how noisy your buyer’s neighbourhood / family is.

Safety for Kids & Pets

Safety might not spring to mind when thinking about window coverings, but tangled cords pose a serious safety risk to children and pets. Most Australian households have either a child or a pet, or both, so safety is an important consideration. All modern window treatments comply with the latest child safety regulations, but make sure you mention this to buyers, find out if they have young children, and take appropriate action to minimise risks with their purchase.

We hope these tips have been helpful!

The Fashionline Team.

All This Rain is Making Everything Dirty!

cleaning windows

We’ve had a lot of rain this autumn already, and this weather can lead to dirt, grime, mould, mildew, and lack of energy for cleaning!

Here are some tips from the experts to help with some of your common window cleaning issues…

If your screens are worse than your windows 

Remove and take them outside. Pick up the screen by its edges, hold it at an angle so most of the screen surface is facing the ground, and tap one edge lightly against a firm surface. This will shake any dirt loose. Using a broad, soft-bristled brush, scrub both sides of the screens with warm or hot water and lemon-scented dishwashing detergent. Rinse with a hose and air-dry thoroughly before reinstalling.

If your windows get dirty unusually fast

Change the filter in your heating and/or cooling system. Modern airtight homes trap more dust, pollen, dander, dangerous mould and other particles inside than ever before. While air conditioner filters extend the life of your appliances, they also help trap that dirt. Filters should be changed every month or two, or anytime you can’t see through the filter when you hold it up to a light. Cleaning your air conditioning filter regularly is also an inexpensive way to keep your house cooler/warmer.

If your blinds are the problem

Dust or wash them. Dust blinds regularly with a soft cloth, a duster, or the dusting brush on your vacuum. Be sure to dust both sides of the shades. If they’re stained or spotted, it’s time for a real cleaning. Though you can wash them in place (with a drop cloth over the floor and furniture), it’s best to remove them. Place one shade at a time across a worktable covered with a plastic sheet or shower curtain. Wash vinyl blinds using a sponge and a solution of 1⁄4 cup white vinegar in a tub of warm water. Washing them in the bathtub is even easier. Run some warm water in the tub, add a squirt of dishwashing liquid, and wipe each side with a large sponge. To rinse, dunk them in clean water or hold them under the shower. Then wipe with a clean, soft cloth. Many fabric blinds can also be washed, but take a close look at the care instructions before washing them! It’s best not to leave them in the water for more than a minute.

If you can’t keep outside windowsills clean

Apply a coat of floor wax. Because your exterior windows are, well, exterior, they are subject to collecting a lot of dirt. Wax is the simplest (and most effective) way to protect your sills. A coat of WD-40 can also protect your windows from the elements.

If there’s mould or mildew on your window frames

Wash with a bleach-detergent solution. Black or gray mould spots on wooden frames can be cleaned for good with a solution of 2 parts household bleach and part laundry detergent in a tub of water. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands, sponge the solution on the spots, let it sit for ten minutes, and then rinse thoroughly with clean water.

If your blinds are always dusty

Use an antiseptic spray (read care instructions first though!). The best way to keep dust from piling up quickly is by applying a spray, such as Static Guard, on the window blinds right after you clean them. If dust is a problem in other parts of your home, other cleaning strategies may be more effective.

If your windows are always streaky after washing

Use a window-washing squeegee with a smooth, soft rubber edge. Dry a one-inch strip at the top or side of each window and always start your squeegee there. Starting on dry glass is one key to avoiding streaks. Don’t wash windows in direct sunlight, because quickly dried glass is more susceptible to streaking. Evenings or cloudy days are the best times for window washing.

Happy cleaning!

The Fashionline Team.

Let’s have a chat with a Fashionline Member!

harlequin logo

harlequin logoHarlequin Blinds and Security was first established in the early 1990s. It started by manufacturing vertical drapes and security doors in the local Sunshine Coast area. Since then it has grown to become one of the Sunshine Coasts best known manufacturers of Internal and external Home Improvement Products. This was achieved by their aim of always putting the customer first.

Harlequin Blinds and Security is a proud Fashionline Group member. They feel that membership gives Harlequin Blinds and Security’s customers access to the quality, range and prices of a national company with the service, care and reliability of a local company – which we all know is true!

Harlequin manufacture and supply the most comprehensive range of home improvement products. With Blinds, Awnings, and Security Door products, their customers have access to a One Stop home improvement shop, and they have products to suit all budgets.

Owner, Marilyn Black is also an ambassador for Sunny Kids and an avid supporter of Boystown. With three children of her own these charities are close to her heart.

We spoke to Marilyn about market trends and her plans this year… Marilyn Black

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you find was your biggest mover over the summer season?

The Ziptrak Awning! It’s a great Awning System that customers LOVE, it is easy to use and has many advantages to a person’s outdoor living space!

ziptrack harlequin

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your best tip for our harsh Australian environment? (window furnishing wise)

Know what products are needed for our temperature and climate.  Where and when you need shade, air and light and how maximise your area to do that.

sloping shutters and ziptrack awning Harlequin Blinds

 

 

 

 

 

Tell us a little bit about your team?

We have a small but dedicated team. There are five who have been here from 4 to 17 years, and one has been in the industry for nearly 25 years, with a wealth of knowledge and experience.

What’s the best thing about your service? Is there anything that really sets you apart? 

We are local, and we manufacture a majority of our products on site.  We are readily available and have good knowledge of our products and how we can help a customer to ‘Complete the Vision’ to their home and office!

Any exciting plans for the rest of the year?

We are looking at expanding our premises and continuing our staff training and advancement.

Thanks Marilyn, we’ve enjoyed the chat!

You can get in touch with the team at Harlequin here: 

5/46 Enterprise St Kunda Park QLD

07 5476 9888

www.harlequinblindsandsecurity.com.au

 

International Women’s Day is here, on March 8th…

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To celebrate we wanted to bring to light this exciting story, in Success Business Magazine (Issue 29, Feb/March p.55), which features one of our Fashionline Group members from Ede Shade Solutions in Townsville!

Director – Bronwyn Ede-Mansbridge

Family Roots

Ede’s Shade Solutions, formerly C.Ede Pty Ltd, is a 102-year-old family-owned Townsville business. We specialise in internal and external blinds and awnings, in shade sails and structures. I have always worked in the business; I actually cancelled my plans to study after high school when I was offered a position to work in the family business.

First Female Director

Being part of a 100-year-old business verifies to me how society and a woman’s role in the workforce has evolved. I am honoured to be the first female Ede family member to officially work in the business to continue on to become a director. It’s a common joke around our office that I relate myself to the cartoon character She-Ra with the guys, but it’s a metaphor not to underestimate women and what we can do.

Innovation Is Evolution

Products and techniques for manufacturing those products we supply are always evolving. It’s exciting to see the evolution of products we use, and where this is going in the future.

Looking Back

If I could go back and give myself advice as I was preparing to leave school, it would be, “Be more confident, just get in and do it!”

Success Is Being Grateful

For me, success can be measured in reaching points in your life both personally and professionally. What naturally comes to mind when I think about success is being grateful that my husband Jay and I have a happy home life. My goal is to aim to be financially secure to do what I want when I want, and that I am doing all I can to sustain and grow our fourth-generation family business. Success is knowing that my family and friends are proud of me.

Work-Life Balance

Any tips on getting that work-life balance?

I’m working on it; when I figure it out I’ll let you know!

Advice From Mum

The best advice I’ve received are two little gems that we’ve probably all heard from our mums growing up, but they have really stuck with me over time. 1) Treat others how you would like to be treated. And 2) Learn from your mistakes. They are oldies but goodies.

Customer Satisfaction and Your Ongoing Commitment to Service

happy customer

Customer satisfaction is an elusive concept for every business, be it a huge corporation or a small family run business. Companies have spent millions compiling statistics, research, interviews, focus groups, and more, trying to determine the special formula for a loyal customer and repeat customer.

Every client is different and therefore will be pleased or disappointed by a wide range of personal exchanges and outcomes.

It is key to remember: Needs are different for every customer, and so you need to ensure that your staff are always looking to better their customer service skills.

First, it’s important to make sure that your customer service team has the right skills for managing your customer’s needs. No amount of CRM software can compensate for shortcomings in this area. But what skills should you be looking for in a customer service rep?

  • Empathy, patience and consistency. Some customers will be irate. Others will be full of questions. And others will just be chatty. You must know how to handle all of them and provide the same level of service every time.
  • Adaptability. Every customer is different, and some may even seem to change week-to-week. You should be able to handle surprises, sense the customer’s mood and adapt accordingly. This also includes a willingness to learn – providing good customer service is a continuous learning process.
  • Clear communication. Ensure you convey to customers exactly what you mean. You don’t want your customer to think he’s getting 50% off when he’s actually getting 50% more product. Use authentically positive language, stay cheerful no matter what and never end a conversation without confirming the customer is satisfied.
  • Work ethic. Customers appreciate a rep who will see their problem through to its resolution. At the same time, you must have good time management skills and not spend too much time handling one customer while others are waiting. Stay focused on your goals to achieve the right balance.
  • Knowledge. Ultimately your customers rely on you for their knowledge of your product. Stay informed enough to respond to most inquiries and know where to turn if the questions become too detailed or technical for you to answer. But don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” either. Customers will appreciate the honesty and your efforts to find the right answer.
  • Thick skin. The customer’s always right… right? The ability to swallow one’s pride and accept blame or negative feedback is crucial. Whether your team works directly with customers or looking for feedback on social media, they’ve got to keep the customer’s happiness in mind.

Not sure if your reps have the right customer service skills? Survey or interview your customers to understand whether your service team is showing each of these traits. Running a customer feedback survey through your CRM program, at the point of sale, or when you send customers an invoice is a great way to see where your team’s skills do and don’t measure up.

Look at every touchpoint

A bad customer experience at any point in the customer lifecycle can ruin your relationship. In addition to making sure the right skills are demonstrated, you need to be sure they’re being demonstrated consistently. Make sure you have a full view of the customer experience, or you risk lapses in service that can really hurt business.

Improve your customer interactions

If your staff has the necessary skill set, that’s a good start. But they still need to relate to your customers. Here are some tips for making sure customer service is both thorough and well received:

  • Ask reps to try to identify a common ground – like shared interests – with the people they help. Having this point of understanding makes conflict easier to overcome by humanizing the relationship, and it endears customers to your rep (and ultimately your company).
  • Practice active listening so your customers feel heard. Clarify and rephrase what the customers say to ensure you understand them. Empathize with and reflect their feelings by saying things like, “That must have upset you” or “I can see why you feel slighted.”
  • Admit your mistakes, even if you discover them before your customers do. This builds trust and restores confidence. It also allows you to control the situation, re-focus the customer’s attention and resolve the issue.
  • Follow-up after a problem is solved. Make sure the issue stays fixed and that your customers were satisfied with the service. Sending an email, or even a feedback survey is an excellent way to let the customer know you’re still on their side.
  • Get personal. Your customers want to feel like they have access to real people, not bots and FAQs. Offer more than just automated email responses, and do not let your telephone prompts or website send them down a rabbit hole. Take full advantage of social media (such as Facebook and Instagram) and write responses when your customers post on your page. Post photos and bios on your website. This shows your customers that you are real people working on their behalf.
  • Be available. Part of the personal touch is making sure your customers can reach you. For example, if your business is primarily online, meet in person occasionally with local customers and offer video calls (such as Skype) for those farther away. Work early and late when needed, especially if your customers are in different time zones. Even providing customers with your physical address helps build their trust and reminds them that your company exists off the internet as well.
  • Cater to your customers. Consider assigning reps to specific customers so they can build a relationship. Offer VIP treatment for your best customers to let them know they are appreciated. What special services might your customers like?
  • Create communities. Your customers will feel even more valued if you treat them as important members of a community. You can bring various customers together in numerous ways, including webinars, interactive websites, social media, trade shows and conventions. And don’t forget that while your customers come to these forums to learn from you, you can learn as much – if not more – from them.

Make sure your reps are engaged

You can have the best customer service skills and the best training in the world, but if your reps are checked out, it won’t matter at all. Improving employee engagement is another way to make sure customers have a great experience. Dissatisfied employees are unlikely to come forward with their problems, so consider an anonymous suggestion box or an employee engagement survey to see what makes your employees tick.

You’ll want to know how your customer service team feels about working conditions and compensation, opportunities for career advancement, training and their peers.

 

 

 

 

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