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

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

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.

 

 

 

 

Building & Window Furnishings – What’s On Trend?

One of the biggest building annoyances revolves around ceilings, and often comes to a head when your customers start talking to their architects and builders about built-in pelmets, curtains and blinds. Many don’t know the correct terminology and may come to you with pictures like the one below, and pointy fingers:

recessed curtain tracks

 

 

 

 

This is a ‘recessed track’ and it’s very much in style – the curtain tracks are recessed into the ceiling and it screams luxe.

 

The thing a lot of people don’t understand is that recessed tracks are considered a major architectural feature, and they need to be thought of right at the very beginning of the design stage. But because a lot of people associate this decision with window furnishings – which is not part of building, per se – they forget to mention it at the beginning.

If this is the case for any of your customers, they may be able to save the look if built-in pelmets with a hidden rail has been factored in. The hidden pelmets may be able to be widened, so that they effectively turn into bulkheads. This would allow the hidden rails to mimic the effect of recessed tracks without having to rework the design in a huge way. See below:

bulkhead NO cornices

 

 

 

 

(bulkhead, no cornices)

Ceiling mounted tracks:

Because the long, rippled lines of linen are so popular in celebrity bedroom photos, you might also find customers will be very satisfied with ceiling mounted tracks.

“Linen. Great swathes of linen with the sunlight glowing through them…”  Such a romantic look.  But they also need their bedrooms to be dark, they don’t love light when they are trying to sleep…

Suggest a double ripple-fold ceiling mounted track with two separate curtains or blinds.  An unlined linen curtain in front, a block-out behind (see image below). It’s perfect, the linen curtains can be drawn when they want a soft dappled light or privacy, and the block-outs are closed at night and are an extra thermal layer in winter.

ceiling mounted double track

 

 

The ripple-fold tracks are neatly mounted onto the ceiling, very unobtrusive, and window coverings can be pulled from one side right across the opening, and also stack on a single side.  This is a good option to save on dropping any height at ceiling level, and gives the illusion of higher ceilings with the long, vertical lines.

It’s almost the Holiday Season!

Fashionline Group would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for a wonderful 2016. To all of our members, affiliates and all of your family and friends, we would like to wish you a safe, happy and healthy Festive Season. May it bring you joy and prosperity.

We thought it only fit to remind everyone of some important holiday safety tips – because times can get pretty crazy when the silly season comes around!

Enjoy a Safe Holiday Season using these handy tips:

Theft – Pick Pockets & Identity

Take with you only the cash and credit cards you need

Don’t carry your passport or other important documents unnecessarily

Don’t let others distract you in crowded areas when your personal belongings are at risk

Limit the use of your mobile phone in busy public places

Home Burglary

Install security screens or cameras

If you are travelling, ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your house

Put timers on lights in different parts of the house

Have papers, mail and deliveries collected by someone you trust

Personal Safety

Park in well-lit and well-travelled areas

Avoid overloading yourself with packages

Be aware of your surroundings

Auto Safety

Leave nothing of value visible inside the car

Keep all your car doors and boot locked

Keep packages in the boot while shopping

Don’t leave your GPS visible

Credit Cards

Only shop at secure websites

Never respond to emails that ask for your credit card or any other personal information

Check your credit card and bank statements regularly

We hope these tips have been useful, and again, we hope that you all have a wonderful break! Stay hydrated, look after one another. We will see you in the New Year!

The Fashionline Group.

 

 

 

Fashionline Member Profile!

Bush’s Blinds are a proud member of Fashionline Group, and have been a family operated business within the industry since 1937!

Over this time the business has expanded to become a leader in window furnishings in North Eastern Victoria.

Glenn and Nancy Bush are the current owners, and have been involved in the business for thirty years now.

Glenn said, “We have a great team, comprising of my daughter Hannah, myself and Nancy, our office manager Josie who handles the accounts. Sales on the road is Mike, Abid puts all the gear together ready for installing and Denis works together with Talay in the fitting team. The whole team provides a professional quality product and service to all clients.”

The staff at Bush’s have extensive experience in all types of window furnishings, including motorization of exterior and interior treatments.

“The biggest percentage improvement in sales so far this summer season would be the Roller Shutter market, as well as Motorised Blinds that work on timers,” Said Glenn.

“The Motorised Blinds are a great option for the warmer months because they can be set with timers or sensors to come down when peak heat intensity is reached, and then retract when the sun has gone away.”

Bush’s blinds believe in creating a culture that maintains commitment to continuous improvement and training, meaning that Bush’s is a progressive business that intends to be operating and expanding for many generations to come.

Bush’s are located in Shepparton, and specialise in Internal & External Blinds, Curtains and Motorisation. To read more visit http://www.bushsblinds.com.au/ or get in touch on (03) 5821 2688.

 

Summer has arrived early…

The Australian Government has once again advocated the use of window furnishings to keep cool this Summer, keep energy usage down, and bills too!

Here is some useful information from the Government, that you can quote to your customers:

“Windows let in useful warmth and light in winter, but in warmer weather sometimes this can be too much. Heat gain through an unshaded window in summer can be 100 times greater than through the same area of insulated wall. In winter windows can allow up to 40 per cent of your heat to leak out. This means you’ll be using more energy to keep your home comfortable and paying higher energy bills.”

We’ve already had some very hot days this season, and it’s only November, so it’s worth reminding your customers about the benefits of getting the right window furnishing before the real Summer heat hits.

We know that snug-fitting curtains and blinds on windows can prevent heat gain as they trap a layer of still air next to the window.

If they are installing blinds, it would help to look for an insulating fabric and ensure they’re well-fitted to restrict air movement around the window to prevent unwanted heat loss or gain. For an energy-efficient option honeycomb or cellular blinds are an excellent choice as they trap air within cells and act just like a double-glazed window.

If your customers are in a very hot climate, external blinds and awnings can be installed to provide shade. Also, blinds which are white or near-white on the outside or have a reflective surface will reflect more heat back outside.

Don’t forget to value-add by reminding your customers that shutting curtains on the northern side during the day, and the western side in the afternoon will keep the sun from overheating the house.

And lastly, Automated home systems can make sure your window coverings raise and lower at certain times of the day. They can be pre-linked to sensors and timers to automatically respond to the outside weather conditions, meaning your customers have greater control of how much energy is being used in the home.

It’s Allergy Season and we can help.

Do you have customers who are wheezing and sneezing this spring season?

Something you may not have considered, is that allergy-prone people are often triggered by the floor and window coverings they choose to have in their homes.

Interior design takes on a whole new level of importance when you’ve got someone at hand who suffers allergies. Though the number of possible triggers is endless, the fiendish four most likely behind everything from runny noses to asthma attacks are pollen, mould, pet hair and dust. The good news is that there is much you can do on the decor front to minimise their risk.

For their windows why not recommend blinds rather than curtains? And easily cleaned roller style blinds rather than venetian blinds? If curtains are a must, they should go for those in a fabric light enough to take down and wash regularly without fading.

More helpful tips include keeping window frames clean of dust and mould as regularly as possible.

Hard floors are better too, so your customer should avoid carpets and rugs. If they must have either, they go for as short a pile as possible.

These are great Springtime conversations that add value to your client experience around important things that we might sometimes forget, like their health and wellbeing.

THE FASHIONLINE TEAM.

Spring is in the air!

Spring is upon us! It’s when we let the warm breezes in and throw away the winter clutter … or at least intend to …

The 2016 Spring Season for decorating is set to inspire feelings of homeliness, nurturing and relaxation. With “colours that calm” at the forefront, pale palettes: sky blues, spring greens – sage green, mint green, mustard yellows, and playful splashes of pink.

We will see the clever use of all things textured – rustic touches, detailed kitchen splash-backs, decorated entryways, upholstered headboards, embroidered pillows. And more original ideas – like painting the inside of your kitchen cupboards in the above mentioned tones.

To compliment these fresh feels, and to bridge the worlds of ‘outside and in’, window furnishings will play an integral role this Spring. Decorators will be looking to enhance their new styles with customised window furnishings.

One trend that’s always in style for Spring is using window treatments that allow a lot of natural light into the space. Vision Blinds are an innovative option that feature two layers of translucent and opaque horizontal striped fabric. They not only look great but are practical too.

Organic materials are bringing nature indoors, nature-inspired and eco-friendly materials and designs like Timber Venetians and Plantation Shutters evoke ‘plantation’ and ‘raffles’ decorating styles, and are an economical choice without compromising on style and quality. These simple yet highly effective window treatments are easy to install, and provide an efficient and inexpensive mechanism for controlling light, room temperature and cross ventilation this spring.

Because florals are on the return – wallpapers, and even cherry blossoms, one may choose to project a feeling of Asian inspired peace and tranquility with a Japanese Shoji Screen. A Shoji is a sliding window or door panel in a traditional Japanese house. They allow soft, diffused light to filter from the outside, and provide a cherry-blossom ambience.

Colours will be used to brighten spaces this season. Yellow epitomises warmth and a sunny outlook toward the future, so expect to see some yellow tones.

Whatever the choice of the decorator, remember that customised window furnishings play an integral role when Spring is in the air!

 

Why Group Buying?

Group buying is a process that allows several businesses to come together for the purpose of buying at discounted rates. The idea behind this type of buying is to combine the buying power of all our Fashionline group members and use that volume buying to extend low rates to every member of the group, regardless of that member’s actual usage.

In business, smaller retailers have often used this approach to secure discounted pricing on goods for resale in their stores, allowing them to successfully compete with larger retailers that operate on a national or international basis.

Everyone involved in the group buying effort benefits from the arrangement, which is great. Members of Fashionline group receive discounts that are based on the total business volume of the collective, rather than just their own volume usage. Typically, this results in savings that help to reduce operational expenses, even for smaller companies that participate in the group buying, which in turn increases the amount of net profit that the smaller business generates!

At the same time, each member of the Fashionline group has the ability to offer their customers a wider range of goods and services than would be possible if negotiating pricing with vendors on their own. Win, win.

If you’d like to know more about our Fashionline group membership costs and conditions, get in touch with us here. We would love to hear from you to discuss how group buying could benefit you!

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 Monday, August 1, 2016 until Monday, September 12, 2016. There are eftpos cards to be won daily and the major prize will be drawn on Wednesday, September 14.

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.

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