Dealers Share Strategies for New Economy


Kitchen & Bath Design News recently posed the question to dealers and designers in the kitchen and bath industry: “What business strategies will your firm be implementing based on lessons learned from the economy over the past few years?” Following are some of their responses:

“We are anticipating a much smaller footprint for showrooms and more electronic usage for communicating with customers. We will be reducing the number of displays and the overall size of the showroom because we can do so much more with video and computer-generated designs. I also think that by using the technologies that are available today, including e-mail exchanges and social media, there will be a lot more interactivity with our jobs and our customers.

I think it is vital to stay up to date on what is available. However, I want to point out that you cannot eliminate brick and mortar altogether. No matter how hard you try, you cannot replace the experience of touching a high-quality finish. I think, going forward, the trick is for people to do the same quality of work, just from a smaller footprint.”

Max Isley, CMKBD
Hampton Kitchens of Raleigh
Wake Forest, NC

“We already implemented some new strategies this past year. We started a handyman service for minor home repairs. We are also offering a full design service. We were just doing remodeling and specializing in kitchens and baths, and now we’re doing new homes and providing the interior design for those projects.”

Beverly Staal, CKD, CBD
Showplace Design & Remodeling
Redmond, WA

“The forthcoming strategies for my business include a continuing promotion of my just launched new brand, Bornholm Kitchen, which is a niche product in the kitchen and bath marketplace. Having partnered with Web retailers for stock items of Bornholm Kitchen, I see this as a test case in how to purchase a kitchen. I have chosen to partner with a long-time friendly competitor in my local region who will be the sole representative for the line in our mutual geographic territory, and I and my associates will represent the line beyond this territory. At the same time, I have hired a social media expert and traditional public relations representative.

I will continue to be active in social media in a variety of ways – including Twitter, Facebook and blogging – and participating in events surrounding these entities. Social media is a cornerstone of my marketing plan. Social media is a wonderful way to build solid relationships (which has always been important, however business is done), and those relationships are vital to my business and to me, personally.

The economy, being unpredictable, means that risks must be taken as there are no guarantees. Being in a position where we can respond to market demands and conditions, as well as being financially conservative and cautious, keeps the risk level within an acceptable tolerance.”

Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS, president
Bornholm Kitchen
Northport, NY

“Due to the economy I have had to cut back on staff, so I am basically doing it all myself except for my installations. Right now I am doing about seven projects. There are probably two or three that I will be closing shortly. Hopefully, I will be able to hire a draftsperson soon.

I have also increased my advertising, updated my Web site and have good coverage with Google. I do plan on hiring someone young who understands social media so that they can help with cost-effective marketing for the firm, as well.

We were impacted by the economy because I had to move my showroom. It was a huge investment that I hadn’t been planning on because my landlord lost the plaza I was in to the bank. I could have stayed, but the rent was going up. So I relocated and, ironically, all of my clients love the new showroom better and think it is a better location. However, it was a $30,000 investment when you consider displays and build outs. It was a considerable crunch that I wasn’t really anticipating.”

Barbara C. Geller, president
The Place for Kitchens & Baths
Boca Raton, FL

“With the downfall in the economy, we found it necessary to ‘cut the fat’ from our business operations in order to keep the company running lean and mean. One of the first things we decided to cut back on was our print advertising. While running full-page ads in local design magazines does provide solid leads, we’ve found that having a great Web site is just as advantageous – for a fraction of the cost.

We’ve also made sure to emphasize the fact that we design with innovation to impact value, since we know that the poor economy has also affected the consumer, not just industry professionals.”

Shawn McClure, CKD, president
Kitchen Design Gallery
Lenexa, KS

“One of the main changes is that we did not replace my assistant with a staff person when we lost her in November. Instead, I have outsourced some of the CAD work and done more of it myself. I have also hired a media person to manage the redesign of our Web site, organize our monthly newsletter and contact list, and develop a stronger Web presence.

Sharon Sherman, ASID, CKD
Thyme & Place Design
Wyckoff, NJ

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