Bathroom Busters…

IT COULD BE SAID THAT ALMOST… anything goes for bathroom window treatments; it just depends on the decor, the client, and the budget.

bathroom window furnishings Bathrooms can vary from the simplest of powder rooms all the way up to roman bath-like spaces bursting with luxurious features and fittings.

Naturally, staying with the principal of practicality, you can’t look past at least considering plantation shutters. Constructed with either PVC or aluminum panels, shutters protect against steam, splashed and humidity in bathrooms.

Shutters look great on many different shaped windows and offer the utmost in privacy. You won’t be worried about having total block in your bathroom if you have shutters. If you have a window located right in a shower itself, then shutters are also ideal. They are wonderful for kids who tend to splash when bathing too.

Blinds offer the expected high level of privacy, but bear in mind they can feel tired. They also need to be constantly cleaned as they can become drab extremely fast. They are, however, usually the most cost-effective choice.

Roller blinds are also versatile choices in bathrooms, but you must ensure that you use moisture-resistant materials. Sheer rollers are not recommended as they can hold moisture and generate a look and feel of wetness; you should use materials that water can effortlessly run off, and that is also resistant to mould and mildew.

A recent fashion in upmarket bathroom spaces is floor to ceiling sheer curtains. These are lavish and reminiscent of five-star resort spas! Usually a basic, machine-washable sheer is advised, as you want an option that will not get mouldy or hold moisture, and if it does start to generate these ‘symptoms’, you can wash it quickly and easily.

In terms of materials for sheers, true polyesters should be chosen for bathroom conditions, which is excellent as they are usually more affordable than their natural-material cousins.

Don’t forget that their fixtures and fittings are vulnerable to discolouration and rusting, so be sure to choose aluminum with as few movable parts as you can. Make sure the curtains can be removed simply, for washing, and if you are worried about damaging them you can place them in a wash bag or a pillowcase. Make sure you remove any hooks before washing. You should also never wring out a sheer, though delicate spin cycles should be fine.

And finally, make sure you consider your window furnishing early. Try to decide on them in the planning stages of a redesign or build (if possible), so that the end product is everything you hoped it would be!

Happy bath-rooming!

Consumer Errors 101

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.

 

How to dress Difficult Windows

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.

Get in the mind of the buyer

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!

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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