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Feb 19 2015

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To Bill or Not to Bill for Your Time

Image by phasinphoto, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by phasinphoto, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In our K+BB Designers Network LinkedIn Group, Cindy Sherman, a kitchen & bath designer in Fort Morgan, Colo., asked the following questions: Do you charge for your “shopping” time, whether online, thumbing catalogs or meeting with local contacts? If I take the time to do all of the selections and they don’t purchase them through me, I have wasted valuable time. How do you all handle this?

We want to share the responses with you.

Kristi Wyndham, CKD, Lead Designer at Beaches Woodcrafts

As a 35-year veteran in the kitchen industry, I have ALWAYS charged for my time. If you don’t put a value on your time, no one else will. I use it as a qualifier; if they are not willing to put down a design retainer, they are probably not in my market. I do give every client one free hour of consultation to sell myself and my services. This is a verbal consultation and a few pencil sketches…by the time we are 30 minutes into the meeting, they are signing the retainer check. Many of those who have walked away after the hour send their friends to me because they learned the hard way that my fee is worth every dime.

Laura Vlaming, CKD, Certified Kitchen Designer at Arkiteriors

I charge an hourly rate for all design services, period, but no markup on products, since pricing can be found on the Internet. I tell my customers they are paying for my time and my service. If possible, I have the customer pay the vendor directly, telling the vendor I am passing on my discount. My customers are happy about getting the discount, and I’m happy I can get my value in services provided. The caveat is that many times I don’t charge for all the time I actually spend searching for that perfect light fixture or knob.

When it comes to the plumbing fixtures, depending on the project scope, I often have the plumber order the products per my specifications. The plumbers I work with give the customer a good price so they can have control over all the parts required. This works well, so 1) The plumber is responsible for coordinating pick up/deliveries & possible returns or missing parts (time). 2) When the plumber is passing on discounted pricing, it discourages clients from purchasing on the Internet, possibly ordering wrong (or omitting parts required), leading to job delays.

Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD, Designer/Owner/Author at Fresh Kitchen and Bath Design, LLC

I also charge for all of my time. It says right on my website that clients receive one hour of complimentary time where we discuss the project in detail, but no work begins until I receive the project initiation fee. I also have a four-hour minimum charge, so if someone doesn’t want plans drawn up, for example, just needs help with selections, they must pay an invoice for four hours of my time before we begin.

I often end up spending a bit more time than I bill for, but if you are spending time on someone’s project, you should be paid. I am only designing at this point, so I am not making money on selling products. I know some designers who sell product will return some of the design fee or give a reduced rate if the client buys through them.

Cindy Sherman, K&B Designer in Fort Morgan. Colo.

Thank you for the insights, it seems we all struggle with similar issues – spending more time than we bill for. I have trade accounts with some companies that complement my business, as well as a local showroom. If the client is interested in a particular sink and faucet, it’s easy for me to find one through my resources. To compensate, I can either bill for selection time or add a margin to the product (which is minimal because I still pass along a discount). I guess it’s a way to control that the correct products/specifications/dimensions are selected and make sure they are on site when needed.

 

 

 

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Feb 13 2015

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Takeaways from NKBA U Courses at KBIS

Missed NKBA University’s courses at KBIS? Instructors shared their big lessons and ah-hah moments from the show’s most popular courses:

Laurie Brown Photo[2]

From BORN TO BUY: “Connecting effectively with different generations requires a smart mix of communication. Personal connection resonates with everyone, but it’s often direct mail or a strong presence on Houzz, for example, that spurs in-person interaction. Know who you want to reach, and know how to best reach them. Not everyone’s the same.”
Laurie Brown

Tim Donahue Head Shot

From RECRUITING AND HIRING FOR SUCCESS: “Recruiting and hiring can be challenging for small businesses, especially since we’re typically only in “recruitment mode” when an immediate need arises. Having a process empowers you to keep a constant pulse on your business’ needs, as well as an open eye for the right person so you already know who you want to bring on board when the time is right.” – Tim Donahue

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From AH HA! LEARNING TO THINK CRITICALLY AND CREATIVELY: “Brainstorming the same old way makes it nearly impossible break away from your same old ideas. At your next brainstorming session, try out a new method like random stimulation. It mimics what happens to your brain when those brilliant, out-of-the-blue ideas strike that were subconsciously spurred by something around you. Print out 10-12 random images, pin them up discuss what they bring to mind. This simple exercise takes your mind off the problem at hand and frees it for brain play to focus on something else.”
Shawn Doyle

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From DiSCOVER YOUR SELLING STYLE: “For those of us who don’t have sales in our job title but are still required to wear the hat, the stress of closing a sale makes us cringe. Take the pressure off by taking a consultative approach. Yes, your ultimate goal is to win the business, but a client-centric mentality strengthens rapport, sets you apart from the competition and positions you as a long-term resource. You won’t win them all, but rest assured that when the time is right to buy, your name will be top of mind.” – Terry Tolbert, National Kitchen & Bath Association

 

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Oct 10 2014

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K&B Talent: What Potential Employers Are Looking for in YOU

Image by of Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There is much talk about not being able to find reliable talent in the kitchen and bath industry. This LinkedIn discussion asks professional what they are looking for when hiring talent. What qualifications do they desire? What level of experience is required? What kind of experience – marketing, tech, business savvy, design – is necessary?

Anne-Marie Harvey, Kitchen and Bath Design Consultant

One thing I learned in my previous career is that having the correct pedigree is not a guarantee for success in any given field. Having the right disposition, as well as the ability to use your entire brain, is crucial for success in this business. I encourage business owners to take a chance on hiring people who chose kitchen and bath design as a second career and graduates of NKBA-endorsed kitchen and bath design certificate programs.

As in any other career, the process of staying up to date and maintaining your proficiency is ongoing. Talent is overrated; some people with tons of talent waste it because they lack the work ethic required stay on top. If you have someone with a true passion for what they do and the aptitude and work ethic to improve, they are likely to be successful.

Rex G Hirst, CKD Au, Interior Designer at Let’s Talk Kitchens & Interiors

What we all do in this profession very much requires a right brain, left brain set of skills, which are REALLY hard to find. We recently sent out an advertisement that stated: If you are a qualified CKD, CBD or interior designer with loads of experience in the K & B sector – with a minimum of five years of REAL commercial experience – then we should talk. What was interesting when I placed this advert was the sheer number of applicants we got from all around the world, (about 60) and the very few who could meet the criteria. It’s not that the applicants aren’t there; it’s the fact that most just don’t have the skills.

Something else that I believe is critical in anyone looking to work in a creative discipline is the desire to do great work, not just make money. 
If you are good at what you do, the money will automatically follow your success. The word “passion” comes to mind. It’s not findable on the resume, but if it’s there, you’ll see it in an interview and the way they talk about past projects.

Cathy Osborne, Designer at Auer Kitchens

Within a 150-mile radius of Cincinnati where I am, most of the design firms are small, family-owned businesses – particularly at the high end. The hardest thing to find is that intangible “good fit.” A personality that meshes well with the other five – 15 people within the company, complementary (not identical) personal goals and expectations, a similar amount of “fight” in their souls, background that provides experiential balance for the company. 
Those may seem like trivial or frivolous qualifications, but the secret weapon of a small business is having team members pull their weight more-or-less equally, who genuinely respect, trust and support each other and who are willing to seek recognition for the group, not for the individual.

Growing a respected company name has immense value, and one poorly chosen person can set a company reputation back years. I could overlook a few weak spots in the credentials if I saw, for example, “five-year volunteer for Habitat for Humanity” or “PTA president” on the resume. As time consuming as it is, the interview is far more enlightening than the resume.

Nina Green, Principal Interior Designer at NGD Interiors

I would first like to see somebody who has an interior designer degree. This lets me know they have had the basic technical/space planning training that I am looking for. (I am willing to overlook this if there are other strong qualifications/credentials as in years of experience/certifications, etc.) I am also looking for skills that can’t necessarily be taught, i.e., organization, attention to detail, a sense of aesthetics, enjoys being around people/communication, etc.

The rest depends on the level at which I am hiring them. If I want a junior designer/assistant, I would prefer them to have basic interior design skills, some kitchen knowledge experience, and I would guide the rest. If I am looking to bring on a designer at the senior level, I look for designers who are at my level or higher who prefer to be independent, preferably with a CKD/CBD.

I think it is important that designers understand the business/sales side of things, but I have found through guidance/role play this can be refined. I do prefer that the designers have had training/experience selling to low-middle markets & high-end markets, as they require different skill sets. In terms of marketing, business, etc., I would typically outsource these to consultants that only do that function.

Amy Britton, CKD, Founder, Owner & Principle Designer, Artisan Kitchens LLC

Honestly, I almost think I would prefer to train someone from scratch. The character traits I would look for are: true artistic tendencies (eye for color a plus but not mandatory), bright engaging personality, eagerness to learn, superior attention to detail, good computer technical skills, literacy and organizational skills (!) and ability to work with people. All of those can be shaped into a competent K&B designer with good training and mentoring. And yes, we are all “designers,” but there’s also a sales component to what we do, and someone who is reclusive or introverted ultimately isn’t going to be a success.

Nava Slavin, President of The Creative Edge, Inc.

Designing a kitchen requires some very specific knowledge. You need to understand space planning, circulation and the overall use of the space. One needs to understand the requirements for appliances, electric, venting and plumbing.
We need to have product knowledge, know how different floors will affect heights in the room and how symmetry or asymmetry will look. Once you have all the technical knowledge, you need to understand the best ways a kitchen

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Sep 12 2014

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The Package Deal – Not to Be Overlooked!

When contemplating all of the possibilities available to you for structuring the pricing for your design services, I recommend you consider an option very often overlooked, or simply dismissed entirely – the package deal.

If you’re among the designers I speak to who question this approach because you think it in some way devalues your services or hurts the overall industry, I urge you to explore this pricing strategy a bit further with me.

Now while you can’t build an entire design practice on this particular pricing model, it is another tool in your arsenal for expanding your business by accommodating a particular niche of clientele that you might not otherwise have a plan for doing so.

For example, you could run a “New Nest” package deal for the kid’s room of a young couple, or you could create a package deal for a half-day of retail shopping, consisting of a two-hour consultation and  two hours of shopping, after which you provide the client with all of the information necessary to make the purchases themselves.

These are both examples of ways you can use package deals to appeal to specific types of customers, from new families to the DIY crowd, based on what they need and what they can afford.

If you’re still concerned that offering package deals might turn off more affluent potential clients, just realize that even some of the wealthiest Americans still shop at Walmart. The fact is, regardless of their station in life, people rarely turn their nose up at a good deal.

For more, visit: www.dmcnyc.com.

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