NORTH READING, Mass. — Arthur Pickett sees a lot of value in having a walk-in showroom.

“A showroom gives us credibility,” said the owner of Royal Air Systems, which is located in North Reading. Pickett is also a member of The News’ Contractor Consultants.

When The News visited Pickett a few years ago, he was talking about expanding his showroom. His expansion plans are still in the works. He has been unsuccessful in getting the community to approve a site plan for his proposed new building, but he isn’t ready to throw in the towel yet. Pickett knows the importance of letting customers experience the look and feel of his products.

“We show customers the 10- and 12-SEER condensing units,” he said. “Showing them the cabinet doesn’t mean squat, but psychologically it works.” Pickett asserted that the experience of seeing the equipment in person makes the customers feel important.

Pickett said his hope is that more customers will come into the showroom and sign a purchase agreement there. He gave an example of a customer who came into the showroom after Pickett went out of his way to help him with a residential heating problem.

He described the story about a man whose boiler went out in his home while the man’s wife was in the hospital. The husband couldn’t take the time to shop for a boiler. Pickett set him up with some space heaters to keep the home temporarily warm. When the husband finally had some free time, he came in to see the boiler in the showroom. He happily signed a sales agreement.

“We get about six to 12 walk-ins a week,” stated Pickett. “It’s good for professionals who might be on the road during the week and can stop in to talk about a system.”

He said that right now the showroom doesn’t generate enough revenue for a full-time salesperson, but one of the employees is always available if a customer happens to drop in. He added that often a person might come in to get a second price on a job. That’s OK with Pickett.

“As long as I can get a shot at the customer, it is my own fault if I can’t sell to them,” he said.

Pickett ventured that he is about “five years away from where we want to be with the showroom,” but in the meantime, he is happy to have a feature that makes him special. “A showroom is a psychological crutch for me,” he concluded. “It makes me different from the other guys who are just selling out of their trucks.”

Publication date: 01/27/2003