Designers Form Web Site to Field Kitchen Questions

by WOHe

Designers Form Web Site to Field Kitchen
Questions

By Barbara Capella Loehr


WAUKESHA, WIWhile design may be their passion, Amy Sussek and
Jackie Zager are also in the information business. In fact, when
they started their company, they had one thought in mind: to help
consumers with the sometimes daunting task of remodeling their
kitchens.

Additionally, they wanted to create an educational forum through
which they could guide as many individuals as possible through the
remodeling process, answering the common and not-so-common
questions that remodeling typically drags to the surface.

To that end, Sussek and Zager formed Ask the Kitchen Designers,
LLC, based here, and launched their advice-based Web site,
askthekitchendesigners.com, in 2001.

“Kitchen design is what we know,” comments Sussek, who has 10
years of design experience to Zager’s 14 years. Both currently work
as designers at large home centers in addition to working on the
Web site.

“In dealing with consumers on a daily basis, we have found that
many people feel lost when they come into [a showroom]. Our mission
in starting Ask The Kitchen Designers was to create a site that
they could visit in the privacy of their own home and compile
enough information to help them shop,” says Sussek.

Comfort Level
With that in mind, Sussek and Zager worked together to get their
Web site up and running. They collaborated to write the detailed
information that would appear on the site, and worked with a Web
designer to tweak it. And, while they still work with their Web
designer, the site is set up so that Sussek and Zager can update it
themselves.

Currently, the site is updated on a monthly basis, with
information that ranges from products and price to budget and
installation tips and design and color trends.

“Our motivation is not based on a specific product or service we
are selling,” explains Sussek.

Indeed, most of the information Zager and Sussek provide via the
Web site is free-of-charge. If someone needs some input or
suggestions on a design layout, that person can e-mail it to Zager
and Sussek.

“We will look it over and give some feedback on it. We will
answer all e-mailed questions the best we can. If we don’t know the
answer off-hand, we will do some Internet research, and at least
send them the link to the information they requested. Many times
the answer is already on our site, so we just send them the link to
that page. We keep the lines of communication open for them to
always feel free to write us again if need be,” states Sussek.

“Our main focus is answering questions from visitors. Most of
our visitors e-mail us with questions about everything from what
appliance color to pick to what color schemes to use. I
communicated with a woman on the East Coast who was building her
retirement home in Sedona, AZ,” continues Sussek. “She had
questions about what color cabinets to choose, her countertop
choices and her appliance colors. She would tell me what she was
considering, and I would go to my ‘day job’ and look at the
samples, and then give her my recommendations She was moving in
December [2002], and I am looking forward to seeing the photos of
the finished home.”

Through the Web site, Sussek and Zager have been able to help a
variety of people. “Last year I communicated with a student from
the island of Mauritius, which is near the larger island of
Madagascar. He was working on his grandfather’s kitchen for his
school project and had lots of questions. That was interesting,”
notes Sussek.

Design Inquiries
In addition to the free advice and information Sussek and Zager
provide, they also offer their professional kitchen design services
via the Web site.

“The only service we charge for is a design layout. If a [site]
visitor is interested in working with us to design their kitchen,
we go through a complete consultation via e-mail, get a copy of
their plan and then give them a firm quote on the project,”
explains Sussek. “But, we are not really advertising our design
services; they’re listed along with our free services so if someone
needs it, they have that option. People can e-mail us their
requests, and we will give them a quote for our services.” They
must first submit room dimensions and complete a design
questionnaire provided by Sussek and Zager.

“Lately, I have had three clients looking for this service,”
notes Sussek. “At the moment I am communicating with two
prospective clients who are interested in our design services. One
is from Ohio and one is from New York. I have [also] recently
completed a design for a local couple that I will be meeting with
soon to deliver their design,” Sussek notes.

Into the Future
Looking ahead, Sussek and Zager are optimistic about their Web
site’s growth because they feel
they are serving a need.

In fact, the duo is attempting to launch a new directory to
assist site visitors in finding places where they can shop.
Visitors could then click on the city in which they live and locate
retailers and professionals in their area who can personally assist
in their kitchen remodels. 

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