INDEAL Changes its Story
INDEAL, which originated and flourished as a buying organization for dealers, continues to evolve and has morphed into a full platform designed to streamline the commercial interior discovery, specification, and ordering process through a combination of its own technology and tools with those of its partners.
“Instead of visiting multiple websites and using countless apps, the entire platform provides a one-stop destination that connects the commercial interiors world,” said co-founder Dave Bloch.
“We’ve really developed deep relationships in this industry,” he said. “We have dealers and brands looking to us for guidance and steering. We’ve been a sounding board for years now and we want to continue to offer them more solutions for the future and really support them in areas where they don’t have any current support.”
INDEAL represents most of the top dealerships in North America — more than 300 in all. It began as a buying group where dealers who sold products from INDEAL’s brand partners received a rebate at the end of the year. The roots of the program still exist with financial incentives that help dealers increase profitability, but it has expanded into a platform that includes much, much more.
Education and learning is a key part of INDEAL’s mission, from help finding and specifying products to producing videos designed to explain the industry to new hires and the nuances of the commercial interiors world to more seasoned employees. INDEAL has greatly expanded its INDEAL University content and it’s launching a new version of Pinpoint, a digital tool that helps dealers connect with brands and products, view performance ratings for the top 200 commercial furniture manufacturers and allows designers to access rendered environments and immersive VR experiences.
“There’s nothing else like this out there,” said Bloch. “There are a lot of brands and a lot of search tools looking for products. None of them guide you to who to buy from until now.”
In short, they are putting more resources in the dealer’s toolbox and better connecting them to the products that make a difference. INDEAL now enables dealers to search for brands and products and more importantly, connects them to other tools and assets so they can take action on what they find. Here’s how:
Pinpoint is INDEAL’s proprietary web-based tool that allows dealer sales and design teams to quickly filter and identify brands and sort products by dealer-defined performance attributes, ultimately connecting them with the brands and reps that can best support their projects.
Beyond that, Pinpoint Score allows users to view at-a-glance numeric ratings for each brand along with key-performance indicators using a stoplight system — red (good), yellow (better), green (best) — to determine the best option for a given project.
”All scores are based on publicly available information and performance criteria weighted by INDEAL dealers,” said Laura AmRhein, INDEAL brand strategy manager.
“Pinpoint fills the need for dealer designers and sales teams to have a 24/7 accessible database to shorten the list of brands they are specifying in a way that is more dealer- and customer-friendly,” she said.
The industry’s top 200 brands, as chosen by the dealer community, are included in Pinpoint. “These top 200 are brands selected by our dealers, the 200 brands that they want to do business with the most,” said Bloch.
Finally, Pinpoint allows members to use blended space inspiration and digital booklets showcasing products in workspace applications and organized by how the space is used. Since all the renderings are produced from CET Designer files, they come in a form that dealer designers intimately understand.
These digital marketing resources are integrated directly into Pinpoint, said Jennifer Grubba, INDEAL’s director of marketing resources.
“It is a great resource for dealer designers to be able to look at project ideas in spaces that are downloadable. Since all (CET Designer) symbols for the spaces are downloadable as well, if they like the space, but want to change the color scheme for a client, they can. It will be a huge time saver for everybody since right now they have to do a lot of legwork to get what they are looking for,” she said.
INDEAL now streamlines marketing tools available to its members, offering a series of Workstyle booklets that are divided by application. The booklets can be shipped on demand, allowing the dealer to pull in only the books they need for client conversations.
An in-house team of experts, Product Services connects dealers with solutions to meet product requests and bid requirements. When an appropriate product isn’t available within the INDEAL portfolio, they offer outside alternatives that address the project’s unique price and performance criteria. Results are typically delivered within a day or two.
Dealers appreciate Product Services because it provides an extra set of hands to help ease their workload. It can also help a dealer manage project costs by offering a range of alternatives and increase sales opportunities by giving dealers additional options for projects that include ancillary furniture.
Manufacturers benefit from Product Services as it amplifies their overall brand awareness, familiarizing dealers with products that they might not know and helping dealers connect with their reps.
The office furniture industry can be complex and difficult to understand if you are new to the industry or in a new role. INDEAL U can help with onboarding new employees and explaining complicated pieces of the business to industry veterans through fun and informative videos.
INDEAL U has grown as new videos on the industry have been produced. More than 100 are on the INDEAL U site currently and INDEAL is working to exceed 150 videos by the end of the year. Many of the videos are being produced and hosted by George Pfeiffer, founder and executive vice president of Workspace Digital. Pfeiffer has an easy, entertaining style that makes the videos fun and informative.
Learning on INDEAL U isn’t just limited to topical learning. It also includes content from INDEAL’s INdustry INsights and Leadership Update sessions, according to Trevor Bloch, INDEAL’s partner engagement manager.
“INDEAL U is about helping those new to furniture and industry veterans see new perspectives as the industry evolves,” he said. “Courses are designed to foster forward thinking. We not only teach the basics of the industry, we also look at important ways in which it is changing, from trends to wellness in the workplace.”
Though you currently have to be an INDEAL member to use INDEAL U, those logging into it don’t have to dedicate a lot of time to the learning program. Most videos are short — about 2-5 minutes in length.
Powered by Brand and Strategic Partners
INDEAL’s Brand and Strategic Partners are the engine that make the new platform run at its highest potential.
The broad collection of products on Pinpoint is enough to fill any office and any style. They include large established brands such as Global and fast-growing companies like KFI Studios. They are strategically selected to offer dealers a broad collection of options at multiple price points and aesthetic.
The INDEAL platform also includes 14 Strategic Partners, companies that provide INDEAL members with industry intelligence, business expertise and technological know-how. They include: Align, Avanto, BIFMA, Configura, Hello Raye, KiSP, Marlin Capital Solutions, Mortarr, My Resource Library, NeoCon, SolomonCoyle, TechBox Collective, The Vaughn Law Group, and Yulio.
These Strategic Partners provide services that are integrated through the INDEAL platform, including everything from product discovery and specification through research and legal services. Six represent technology services that support INDEAL’s platform functionality. Five offer INDEAL member discounts.
New People and an Updated Website
As part of INDEAL’s evolution, it has added several key people and just launched a new website reiterating the platform’s story.
David Purewal joined INDEAL as its chief operating officer. The addition of Purewal is important because of his experience building platforms in other industries. Prior to joining INDEAL, he spent almost 20 years in the financial technology, architectural design and real estate domains, building his career in finance, risk management, operations, privacy and corporate strategy. Purewal gained international experience working throughout the United States and South Africa, and enjoys being actively involved with a firm’s recruiting, coaching and mentoring activities.
“I joined INDEAL because I’m excited about the direction the company is taking,” he said. “I love being part of a dynamic, entrepreneurial group striving to hit its full potential in an industry that’s poised for real change. I enjoy learning about technology and how it can be used not just to solve business problems, but change entire industry landscapes.”
Adam Baczynski is INDEAL’s new director of information technology. He comes to INDEAL with 15 years information technology experience, including time as an information technology manager at a furniture dealer. Baczynski believes in leveraging new technologies to drive business growth and utilizing cloud platforms to streamline business processes.
“INDEAL recognizes the technology challenges faced by the commercial interiors industry. It’s exciting to be part of an organization focused on putting the pieces together and finding solutions that benefit both dealers and brands,” he said.
INDEAL also added a few new consultants, though they are no strangers to the industry.
Sid Meadows has played an important role in the reinvention of INDEAL U, helping to identify content and subject matter experts most relevant to industry professionals. Meadows is an industry veteran and podcast producer who tells the story of the people who make the industry tick and the trends that are changing the way work happens. He also is a high-performance coach and business strategist.
Kari Anderson is an interior design and digital expert who brings years of experience at the dealer level to INDEAL. She is helping INDEAL create digital systems that speak to each other, most importantly as she helps dealers understand and implement CET Designer.
“Technology integration, fulfilling the dealer journey with digital tools and positioning brand partner digital assets is my primary focus at INDEAL and with Pinpoint,” she said. “My industry experience and extensive knowledge of CET provides guidance that helps connect resources, solving for challenges that are not easily addressed in our industry.”
A Platform that Brings it All Together
The central hub of the INDEAL platform is the Dealer Dashboard. It keeps everything members need at their fingertips, from quick links to tools like Pinpoint and INDEAL U, to handy resources like promotions and a news feed that makes keeping up to date with the platform news even easier. INDEAL also plans to add a Brand Partner Dashboard that will provide manufacturers with their own set of tools and information.
INDEAL is set to help dealers and the manufacturers they sell to connect in meaningful ways. Whether the dealer is aligned or independent, the INDEAL platform will help make them more efficient and profitable. Most dealers profit margins have fallen by an average of about 2% in the last decade. They are starving for tools to make it easier for them to do business.
Many dealers sell to more than 1,000 vendors. And even if they are aligned, a larger and larger percentage of sales are going to brands outside their alignment. Major manufacturers with aligned dealers provide good service to their dealers. But dealers immediately lose levels of service when they go outside that alignment.
“We level the service,” said Bloch. “That’s where INDEAL can step in and really support our members. We can provide the vetting and connections. We can provide the support. We can provide the educational pieces. And now we have the technology pieces to fit everything together.”