Category 3 Most Innovative Kitchen or Bath Retail Marketing Effort

by WOHe

Category 3 Most Innovative Kitchen or Bath Retail
Marketing Effort

First place: RSI Kitchen & Bath, St. Louis,
MO

Consumer Education Used as Marketing Tool


RSI Kitchen and Bath has no fear of the educated consumer. In fact,
Jenny Hagin, designer and showroom manager, and Magan Bittle, sales
and marketing manager for RSI, believe that the more potential
customers know what’s available, the more likely they are to become
clients. That’s why RSI is offering free classes to people
interested in remodeling their kitchens or bathrooms, an innovative
marketing strategy that garnered the firm first-place honors in
Category Three of K&BDN’s third annual Industry Leadership
Awards. 

The class provides attendees with information about the
remodeling process and pitfalls to avoid. Held on Saturday
mornings, the class offers information about the remodeling process
minus the sales pitch. 

“Our biggest concern was that customers would think the class
was a big sales pitch, and that’s not what we wanted,” comments
Hagin. “We wanted it to be casual and funny and interactive and
informative. We tell them the good, the bad and the ugly about what
they’re in for.”

With a focus on no-pressure education, the class provides
something of real value to potential customers, while working as a
highly effective marketing tool for RSI. The reason for this is
simple: The course brings potential retail customers to the
showroom. The showroom itself offers a number of kitchen and bath
displays that utilize different materials available for sale from
RSI. All class participants get a discount coupon for attending,
which helps to bring them back when they begin the remodeling
process.

RSI breaks the course into 12 steps, all covered in about
one-and-one-half hours. Included in its coverage are: what to
expect during the project; creating a reasonable budget; safe and
durable materials; cost-saving tips; finding a reputable
contractor; selecting a reputable kitchen and bath designer, and
current design and product trends.

Step one involves researching and selecting a contractor who can
provide an outline of a logical workflow for the project. Steps two
through five explain what is needed for an appointment with a
designer. If the customer comes to RSI with a detailed layout of
the proposed kitchen, the firm will provide a bid free of charge.
If one of RSI’s designers creates a custom layout, a $250 design
fee is charged, which can be applied to the investment if materials
are purchased from the company. After drafts, a final layout is
provided to the customer.

Cabinet basics are taught in steps six through 10, including
wood species, general construction, finishes and style options. The
last two steps review countertop basics, including material options
and durability.

The class has proven to be a great referral tool: Over the past
six months, the firm notes that almost 50 percent of attendees have
come to the class because a friend or a family member recommended
it to them.

Additionally, RSI produces a newsletter to stay in touch with
its customer base as another marketing tool.
Bittle notes that the marketing programs, including the class, were
started from virtually nothing. “In the beginning, we had no
official marketing budget, so we begged our vendors for free
prizes, used photocopied handouts and stole RSI pens from our
employees desks to use as give-aways,” she says, laughing. However,
the firm’s marketing programs have come a long way since then and
the firm has the customers to show for it. 

2nd place: REICO Kitchen & Bath, Springfield,
VA

Promotion Focuses on Service and Selection

To set itself apart from the increasingly prevalent home
centers, Springfield, VA-based REICO Kitchen & Bath created a
unique marketing strategy designed to play to the firm’s greatest
strengths, and earning the company second-place honors for Category
Three in K&BDN’s 2001 Industry Leadership Awards.

According to the firm, its greatest strength is the overall
design “experience” it offers customers a combination of
exceptional service, a wide product selection and affordable
prices.

Andy Armstrong, director of marketing, developed marketing
communications that he believes convey the exceptional experience
customers have at REICO. An umbrella media plan blankets REICO’s
entire service area, promoting the REICO brand as a
whole. 

A Cabinet Give-Away Contest was also developed to inform
consumers about how cabinets can be used for functional storage in
rooms other than the kitchen. The contest serves the dual purpose
of helping the company build a database of prospective customers,
which makes everyone involved a winner, according to
Armstrong.

3rd place: Dartmouth Building Supply, Dartmouth,
MA

Community Presence Increases Sales for Firm

Being involved in the community can go a long way toward
marketing a company successfully. Such is the case with Dartmouth
Building Supply, the third-place winner for Category Three in
K&BDN’s 2001 Industry Leadership Awards competition.

Dartmouth Building Supply, based in Dartmouth, MA, has serviced
its area for many years and prides itself on listening to its
customers and offering services to help them better understand the
market.

Among its offerings, Dartmouth Building Supply provides
contractor training programs twice each year. It also holds shows
for builder and contractors to better familiarize them with the
products it sells. This also enables Dartmouth Building Supply to
answer any questions associated with those products, according to
the company.

Further reinforcing its activity with the community, Dartmouth
Building Supply also works closely with the local technical school,
acting as a mentor for students working toward entering the
business world.

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