Lessons from the Dog House

by WOHe

I wake up on the wrong side of seven a.m. to a big paw smacking
my hair and a wet, gloppy tennis ball in my bed. Struggling to pull
myself back from dreams of a romantic honeymoon in Tahiti, I blink
away sleep to focus blearily on the grinning canine face staring
back at me. A tail thumps wildly: “You want to get up and play with
me!” it seems to be saying.

“Forget it,” I mumble, turning over and burying my head under
the blanket.

The tennis ball is soon joined by a slightly deflated soccer
ball, a large bone and a partially chewed up shoe. “You don’t want
to play tennis ball? Fine, what about soccer? No soccer? Well,
okay, but I KNOW you’ll want to play tug-o-war with the shoe. Come
on, these are your favorite shoes, the Anne Klein pink ones. You
NEVER can resist fighting me for THESE.”

Jessie the Energizer Puppy has an endless number of contingency
plans for capturing my attention, and four shoes, two balls, a TV
remote control and a pair of stockings later, I’m finally up.

I’m not happy about it, but you’d never guess it from her
response. Bounding joyfully around the house, she continues to
shower me with new offerings of every kind imaginable, until I’m
finally forced to smile. Before I know it, I’m tossing a ball
around the yard, hard pressed to remember why I would want to be
doing anything else on such a beautiful, sunny morning.

The 86-pound-moose-cum-puppy might need work on her clock
reading skills, but she certainly knows something about overcoming
obstacles.

It occurs to me that, except for her propensity for knocking
over expensive Oriental lamps, Jessie would be a welcome addition
to any kitchen and bath showroom.

Jessie’s life philosophy translates well to the kitchen and bath
industry: If you want to get and keep people’s attention, offer
them good stuff. Lots of good stuff. Offer them choices, too,
because one person’s muddy tennis ball might be another person’s
treasure. Don’t be discouraged when things look tough: Forge ahead
with persistence and enthusiasm, and success will inevitably
follow. After all, who can resist a force of nature moving 100 mph,
full speed ahead, when the rest of the world seems to be
permanently stuck in first gear?

If the latest Kitchen & Bath Design News survey is any
indication, kitchen and bath dealers are taking this philosophy to
heart, meeting today’s challenging business conditions head on with
concrete plans for growth. Whether it’s enhanced product offerings,
a greater focus on service, a larger showroom, more product
displays or a willingness to explore new avenues of business,
today’s kitchen and bath industry pros are actively planning for
the future. And, their plans revolve around growth, not standing
still waiting to see what happens next.
It’s no wonder, then, that while many industries are struggling,
the kitchen and bath industry remains strong.

It’s not that there aren’t plenty of pressing challenges or even
that we have all the solutions. A dearth of qualified personnel, an
uncertain economy and the continued growth of the home centers
continue to plague many kitchen and bath dealers, and there are no
easy solutions. But dealers seem to be taking the bull by the
horns, looking for things they can do, rather than lamenting about
what they can’t. And, what they can do is considerable from beefing
up advertising, establishing a new specialty area, expanding into
other kinds of work or offering more financing options to offering
more flexible hours, taking charge of services that can enhance
customer satisfaction and joining a buying group.

Facing competitive challenges even scarier than a cranky night
person woken before dawn, today’s kitchen and bath dealers are
responding with unflagging enthusiasm, and more plans than Jessie
has tennis balls.

Still, one of the best ways to keep on growing is to keep on
learning from our customers, from our employees, from our
distributors and manufacturers, and from each other.

To that end, K&BDN’s 2002 Industry Leadership Award winners
provide excellent examples of industry professionals whose
continued hard work, dedication, talent, perserverence and
willingness to forge ahead no matter what anyone else is saying or
doing have led to notable growth and success. We at K&BDN hope
they will be an inspiration to all of those who aspire toward
excellence.

Because, as Jessie has taught me, while good things may come to
those who wait, better things come to those who jump in with all
four paws and go after
them.

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