K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Marketing

Aug 26 2015

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Three Big Lessons to Apply to Your Own Business

Laurie Brown is an NKBA University Instructor and customer service industry veteran with 29 year of experience. She says exceptional customer service has become a must to survive and thrive. Below are some big lessons she has shared from a few big players synonymous with excellent customer service.

Lesson from Zappos: View every customer interaction as a chance to build your brand.

From its hassle-free return process to personalized responses to customer complaints, Zappos has created a fiercely loyal customer base through its world-class customer service. And since satisfied customers sing the company’s praises via word-of-mouth marketing, its budget allocated to marketing is nominal. Disclosure: Zero marketing spend may not be the best practice for many designers, builders, etc., but harnessing the power of your satisfied customers is – especially when 84 percent of consumers first and foremost trust recommendations from friends and family, according to a recent Nielsen survey.

Lesson from Amazon: Strive to be a customer-centric company.

Amazon knows firsthand when everything is aligned – from operations to logistics – to work for the ultimate benefit of customers. In the long run, this benefits Amazon, as well. While the design and construction industry can’t always deliver in two days or less like Amazon Prime, we can, however, take a look at our project management and operations to determine how we can better – and in a more timely fashion – meet client needs. Improved efficiency means happier clients, faster job turnaround and ideally, more work.

Lesson from Uber: Manage expectations through frequent, timely communication.

This on-demand car service champions customer experience through its app, which communicates with users throughout the entire process (examples: surge charge notifications during rush hour or rainy weather, estimated pick-up time, etc.). By maintaining constant communication with your client, everyone stays on the same page when it comes to progress, timeline and budget.

For those attending KBIS 2016 in Las Vegas, Laurie Brown will also be leading an onsite NKBA U course, “Born to Buy – Grow your Kitchen & Bath Business with Multigenerational Clients.”




Jun 17 2015

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Tips for Making a Lasting Impression on Your Clients

Image from Idea, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from Idea, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In our K+BB Designers Network LinkedIn Group, designers Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD, and Cathy Osborne discussed this topic: How do you leave a lasting impression on your clients? Do you follow up after a project to see how things are going?

We want to share the discussion with you.

Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD

I make an effort to get to know my clients and understand their needs and preferences. Rather than trying to “sell” them something, I take more of a consultative approach in attempt to solve a problem.

I also try to keep a positive attitude – even when something goes wrong. These things, I believe, leave a lasting impression. I do follow up with past clients with holiday greetings and supporting any businesses or efforts they endorse whenever possible.

Cathy Osborne

You leave a lasting impression on a client by letting them know that they have left a lasting and positive impression on you. I love Anne-Marie’s comment about supporting their personal efforts. It is really important to make a mental note of things they may have shared casually, such as “That’s not a good day for an appointment. I volunteer on Wednesdays at the Food Bank.” Now you know something that is truly important to your client. You might comment: “That must be really rewarding. I’ll bet you have changed lives.” That brief dialogue can lead to a stronger connection between you and your client.

Remember their kids’ names, greet the cleaning lady. The lasting impression will be that you interacted with them as a whole person, not someone spending X thousands on “The Smith Project.”

Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD

One of my past clients makes jewelry, so I attended her first show and bought some of her pieces! This couple had spent two years in the Peace Corp in Belize before moving back to the U.S. The wife had mentioned that she fell in love with an exotic wood called Purple Heart, and she loved the color purple. When they decided they wanted a second material for the upper level of their island, I remembered the exotic wood and found a local source. I also found granite that had purple streaks and mineral deposits. It brings me great satisfaction when I can find elements my clients really love!

May 20 2015

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How Healthy Is Your Business?

Image by hywards, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by hywards, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To make sure your business is in top shape for the rigors of the summer remodeling season, keep these vital signs in check:

  1. Keep a Strong Pulse on Your Finances. Knowing exactly where your business stands fiscally enables you to make smart decisions when it comes to growth and expansion. Commit to updating your P&L statement each month and do a solid review each quarter with your team to stay on track with your goals. If this is a chore you dread and avoid, see a specialist (like an accountant) regularly to make sure your business stays healthy and well out of the red.
  1. Flex Your Management Team. A solid management team empowers business owners and senior managers to work at their full potential. You may have started as a sole proprietorship, but you don’t have to (and shouldn’t!) do it alone. Motivate your management team by communicating how their work directly affects the overall health of the business, and assign more responsibility as they demonstrate competency. You may find they feel more empowered and committed to the success of your business.
  1. Look at Your Business Plan as Your Backbone. Like your P&L statement, your business plan is a living, breathing document. Revisit it quarterly or every six months and make revisions as needed to stay on track to achieve long-term goals and to stay on strategy. This will not only help make growth goals a reality, but provides an opportunity to bring key players from your business together so everyone is on the same page with deliverables and action plans required.
  1. Check your hearing. Your employees are your business’ brain trust and their insights can prove invaluable when it comes to improving daily operations that can impact profitability. Are you listening to them? Good business owners know solid internal communication begets success, so develop a healthy mix of formal meetings and casual touch-points so direct reports can give status updates. Sharing knowledge consistently not only helps prevent a major ‘illness’, it manifests externally in the service and experience you provide your clients.

– Kimberly Morrison, CKD, CBD, NCIDQ, ASID, IIDA, IDEC
has more than 30 years of experience in the field. She is also the interior design program coordinator for The Art Institute of York Pennsylvania, overseeing the development and implementation of curriculum relevant to the ID and K&B fields. 

Mar 23 2015

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Dads Gain More Respect with Regard to Home Design

Image from marin, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from marin, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Steve Kleber of Kleber and Associates, an Atlanta-based home brands specialist and marketing data company, says it just makes good business sense to pay attention to how homes and families are depicted in advertising, in pop culture, in the movies and on TV. His company conducts studies and plumbs research to more effectively market home-related products. Its data found that men are more involved than ever in home design and making appliance choices.

This renewed respect for and spotlight on fathers has ramifications for all areas of the home. The more casual, active lifestyles of families today have dad not only grilling outdoors, but also in the kitchen. With workout spaces in the home becoming more prevalent, men are also making design decisions for the bathroom, favoring multi-head showers and other high-tech features.

According to a study by the NPD Group, a retail and marketing data company, not only is the number of men involved in cooking and cuisine at a historical high, but today’s men “covet mixers, toasters and gourmet appliances just as much as navigation systems, mobile phones and audio components.”

Men are no longer relegated to man caves – the dark recesses of the basement (unless it’s converted into a world-class home theater) – but are actively enjoying the whole house. The modern dad also finds time to coach his child’s soccer or softball team, attend parent-teacher conferences, carve out a space for a home office and install a fully equipped outdoor kitchen with fireplace on the terrace – all with one hand tied behind his back. Just kidding; one project at a time.

The message is clear: Men matter – whether married or single, with or without children. Their decisions include all facets of lifestyle products and services for the entire home.

Hold on…it’s Manwich time!