Top 500 Profile: Systemized Approach
authors Kacey Larsen | August 19, 2019
Longevity of business is a challenge unto itself—especially in the remodeling and construction industry. But the Bath, Kitchen and Tile Center, headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, has been in business for 56 years. Richard Campbell, vice president, credits this to the company’s ability to react to market needs and wants.
“I’m a third-generation family member in the business. It was founded in 1963 by my grandfather, John “Jack” Campbell,” he explains. “He started as a ceramic tile distribution store, and they did that until the second-generation of the family—my Uncle Steve—entered the business. He got us into bathroom cabinetry, and we sort of evolved from there into doing full kitchens and bathrooms. His main focus was on selling wholesale [to] builders and new construction. As the market around us started getting built up, we really shifted to trying to grow the retail side of our business.”
His father, Robert “Bob” Campbell, entered the business and worked alongside Steve until ultimately buying him out, and Bob remains the company president today. Richard joined the business in 2009 after graduating from college, starting as a wholesale salesperson and working up to his current role as vice president. Today, the Bath, Kitchen and Tile Center offers retail, wholesale, design consulting and complete remodeling services.
Beyond growing its services, the company today operates four showroom locations—Wilmington, Newark, and Harbeson, Delaware, as well as Abingdon, Maryland—with 93 employees, ranging from sales staff, installation staff and administrative staff to management. Additionally, the company has a manufacturing division at its Newark location that fabricates granite countertops.
“We’ve been in our Wilmington location since the ’80s. We’ve done people’s original kitchen—they have the paperwork that says we did it—and then they come back to have us do their second or third kitchen,” Richard says. “We’re not that type of company that just wants to do that $50,000 renovation. We’ll do the $5,000 countertop; we’ll do the $10,000 cabinet job for them. If someone comes in and says, ‘I just want to buy cabinets from you,’ we will sell them just the cabinets. These are services that we offer to the customer as a convenience.”
This model has proven successful for the Bath, Kitchen and Tile Center, with $19,072,430 in gross sales in 2018—$11,072,247 of that in gross remodeling sales on 767 remodeling jobs. The number of jobs increased noticeably from 2017, when the company reported 556 remodeling jobs. Richard credits this to the company’s processes becoming faster. “Over the last few years, we’ve been cutting down the amount of time it takes for us to go to market. When a customer first walks in, it takes three or four meetings on a larger remodel project to get it done, and that takes a couple weeks. What we’re trying to do is cut that down so we can get the pricing to the customers faster and what the customers want faster,” he says.
“That’s really what we’ve been focused on over the last couple of years: Rebuilding the customer experience with the focus on the customer and what they experience from the time they walk in to the time we finish their project. In today’s world, everything is faster—it’s instant—and that’s kind of the biggest challenge that we’ve been going through. We’ve been pretty successful at it, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Bath, Kitchen and Tile Center continues to be responsive to the market today, especially with challenges and opportunities. An example is the company indicated on the 2018 Top 500 list that “better marketing overall” was its greatest opportunity. Richard explains the company’s approach since then:
“We’ve gotten back to some traditional marketing this year that we hadn’t [done] before—doing mailers, running promotions—which is something we traditionally had not been super strong on. We’re offering financing now through a third party, which we’re marketing. We’re back in the newspaper, but back a little bit differently. We’ve seen a better reaction to that versus we were very strong, mostly digital last year. We’re still digital—we’re still doing Facebook, Houzz and those areas.”
He indicates that part and parcel of these marketing plans is, again, ensuring a quick response time in getting back to customers. “We want to give them the best experience that they can have, but we also want it to be the same experience for everyone that walks in.” Part of better understanding the customer experience, the company joined GuildQuality, which Richard describes as “a scorecard to see where we’re performing well and where we have areas of improvement.” The company also gets optics from clients through online reviews, which Richard views as a modern referral system.
“One thing that has been very helpful to us as far as leads go—and it’s hard to quantify it—we make a big effort to make sure customers share their experience with us on Google. It’s definitely, from a marketing standpoint, something that we push,” he adds. “We’re actively asking for those reviews because it is the new word-of-mouth. Your neighbor used to give you the recommendation; now, you might still get the recommendation from your neighbor—and there’s still a focus on that—but everyone jumps on the website and values Google reviews. That’s your reputation right there.”
A consistent experience at each of the four Bath, Kitchen and Tile Center locations—each with its own management team—has been one of the projects Richard has undertaken. This project spans implementing companywide processes and systems to offering the same product lines across locations. And it ties directly into the top business opportunity and challenge for Bath, Kitchen and Tile Center in 2019: “increased throughput without adding more overhead” and “keeping up with increased demand,” respectively.
“There are plans to expand but the timeline is not defined. What we’re really focused on is scalability. Working out of one location and being able to walk over and talk to someone about a system is a little different when you start adding 70 miles in between those people. So the focus I’ve had for the past two years is really systemizing what we’re doing,” Richard says. “We’re working as a leadership team on trying to really systemize everything. We’re writing our procedures, which we had being in business as long as we have, but we upgraded our computer system and we’re still working through that. We made the investment in hopes that we could focus on just building a repeatable process and sending that out to all our locations.
“Our real focus this year is on ourselves—making our process better and faster, getting throughput with less manpower [and] making stuff more efficient,” he continues. “We feel we are not going to do ourselves or our customers a favor if we really try to increase our upfront sales right now, because we want to be able to service each customer the same way and get to them faster. If we don’t get our systems to that level, we’re not going to be able to grow. So our focus is getting our operational processes streamlined and being able to repeat the process the same way over and over again.” QR