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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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Jul 07 2014

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The Seven Most Common Negotiating Mistakes

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While even the word negotiation can evoke fear, stress and anxiety for many, the intent is quite simple: to discuss and ultimately agree on a deal. Whether it’s a multimillion-dollar contract or just deciding where to meet for lunch, life is rife with negotiations. And, the negotiation process is a lot like a chess game where strategy reigns supreme – one thoughtfully considered move at a time. Make a careless, shortsighted, ill-conceived move and suffer the perilous consequences.

Even when faced with the most daunting of deals, regarding the act of negotiation as a ‘game’ may alleviate the apprehension and give you the confidence to make power plays that will ultimately facilitate your desired result. Unlike strategy games like chess, however, the most effective deals are a win-win proposition for all parties rather than a winner-loser result.

To help individuals maximize their bargaining prowess in business and in life, below are the most common mistakes made during a negotiation:

  1. Lacking confidence. Many people think they need to show a certain kind of confidence, like being loud, bold or brazen, to successfully negotiate a deal. Others think that a lot of experience is required to be a good negotiator. Most of the time it merely takes tenacity and good old preparation to ensure you are aptly equipped to assert mutually desirable terms, anticipate objections and discern what are motivators or hot buttons will resonate with your opponent.
  2. Thinking something is non-negotiable. When you think like a negotiator, everything is negotiable! When you decide that the terms for anything can be changed in your favor, a world of opportunity presents. Of course, as with most things in life, there will be rules to adhere to with each deal on the table, which are needed to evade chaos and keep discussions on track. However, even rules can be modified if you simply propose an ethical, viable and mutually beneficial alternative solution.
  3. Not building relationships first. This is probably one of the biggest mistakes individuals make in regard to negotiation and business in general. Perhaps you have attended the standard networking event where you give dozens of cards out without having a real conversation with anyone. It’s time to slow down and start making real connections with people – particularly those with whom you might be involved in a deal later on.
  4. Not asking for what you want. There is one key truth in negotiations: You must ask for what you want. People naturally fear rejection or were taught not to be greedy as children, so we instinctually refrain from asking for things in life. It is important to understand that if you don’t ask you don’t get, and the only way to master the art of rejection is to get rejected and keep asking.
  5. Talking too much. This is a sure-fire way to kill a deal. Have you ever been offered a product or service and the salesperson kept talking until she talked you right out of the purchase? When discussing a deal, if you simply stop talking and get comfortable with the awkwardness of silence, your ability to win your argument, sell the product or a get concession in the negotiation increases significantly.
  6. Not documenting. The importance of getting the final agreement in writing cannot be stressed enough. Even better, consult with a contracts attorney to review contractual documents or any that require a signature. The purpose of a written agreement or contract is to provide protection for both sides and alleviate any ambiguity of terms. Documenting the agreement eliminates such perception problems and protects the interests of all parties involved.
  7. Signing without reading. Before you sign on the dotted line, it’s imperative you read what you are signing – no matter how large of a packet it entails. Modern life is fast-paced, making it difficult to focus and causing some to sign legal documents without reading them first. Make sure you read any agreement or contract in full to ensure you are not confirming terms you will regret and cannot undo, which can cause copious problems for your future.

Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez is author of Think Like a Negotiator and is the CEO of Dynamic Vision International – a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills. She is also a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the art of negotiation. www.ThinkLikeANegotiator.com.

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Nov 18 2013

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How Presence and Presentability Helped Me Find Employment (Twice)

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By Monica Aur

Part 1: Preparing to Meet Prospective Employers

While completing an associate’s degree in kitchen & bath design, I was assigned to explore local kitchen and bath shops and firms and interview designers, owners, etc. The thought of returning soon afterward to these same places (to seek?) employment made me nervous, to say the least. Even the most confident people would have undertaken this task with some level of trepidation.

The backstory: I was a non-traditional student (code for older), this course of study was not available at any of the local universities, and I was completing my degree online. This caused further uneasiness because of the possible skepticism that I was actually a student and not competition, but there were less than a handful of these businesses locally, and it was the height of the recession. Researching options and planning precisely where to go and what to say was essential.

So on the morning I went to go look for a job, I dressed carefully, trying to look casual yet serious and designer-like all at once. The look was to convey creative good taste with a level of restraint. With questions in hand and lump in throat, off I went to the designated kitchen and bath shops.

Part 2: The Meetings

The first business was a high-end, full-service firm with the most beautiful showroom I had ever seen. The brands of cabinetry were custom and the appliances high end. It was the type of shop that had to buzz you in.

The designer who greeted me was very helpful; even though I felt – by the way she eyed me throughout the interview – that she did not completely believe I was a student. (Glad I looked presentable.) She answered my questions, gave me a tour and a stack of brochures, nonetheless.

I then went to the second business on my list. This shop was small, had stock-to-custom cabinetry, but no appliances. The only employee present was the cabinetry installer. He was very attentive and helpful, showed me the lines and explained the differences to me. We then sat in the showroom and talked, hoping that the owner would soon arrive. That did not happen, but the installer took my name and number.

Part 3: The Hire

A few months later, with another research paper due, l made a call to the owner of that second shop, the owner I had not met. After answering my questions, he asked if I needed to complete an internship and would I like to intern there. Thrilled, I said yes.

The first week of my internship went really well, and he offered me a position as kitchen and bath designer ASAP. I happily accepted, and that was when the installer with whom I had interviewed told me he never believed I was a student, but that I was spying for the competition. What a conspiracy theorist! Anyway, it seems I made a good impression on him and he had spoken to the owner about me.

Part 4: The Repeat

After graduating and working for this company a couple of years, I decided to make a life change. This meant leaving the city where I had lived for most of my life, taking a leap of faith and moving to a completely new place knowing no one. This was really done on a whim.

The week after the move, while dining in a local pub and reading the free local weekly paper, I saw the annual Tri-State Home Show was coming soon. I became really excited with the idea that I could use this home show as a means of finding employment. (Did I mention I moved before getting a job?) The show was immediately put on my calendar.

So, once again on the morning of the home show came the planning of the wardrobe: something casual with creativity and color. This time, with old business cards in hand and lump in throat, off I went to the home show.

This move felt so right. Receptive and helpful folks greeted me at every turn. I simply said to perspective employers at their booths, “I came to the show for the sole purpose of finding employment.” I handed out my old business cards and was asked by four businesses to email my resume. That was how I found a job where I knew no one.

Part 5: The Message

1.) Prepare.

2.) Show up. Be present.

3.) Present yourself as well as possible.

4.) Be authentic.

- Monica Aur is a kitchen and bath designer at Southern Cabinets & Lighting in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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Nov 11 2013

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Working the Booth: Seven Ways to Improve your Trade Show ROI

PWP Studio photographers specialize in corporate event photography, decor, details, incentive travel, conventions, and on-location photography in Atlanta, Georgia

By Bob McCarthy

When it comes to selling your K+B design services, nothing beats a “face-to-face.” It’s true, the personal connection you make with a one-on-one exchange far exceeds any other communication method. And one way to get more face-to-face meetings is through exhibiting at trade shows and home shows.

Kitchen and bath designers have long used trade and home shows to market their services. As an exhibitor, you cannot only display your products or expertise, but also engage with prospects and generate new sales leads.

However, these marketing opportunities require time and money – and like all other marketing activities, your challenge is to get the most from your investment. Here are seven ways to improve your trade show marketing ROI.

1. Know your costs. Trade shows and home shows aren’t cheap. Aside from the exhibitor fee, you need to factor in the cost of the display itself, the delivery and set up of the display and the marketing handouts – not to mention employee time away from the office, and in some cases, travel and lodging. So take a few minutes to add up your costs. This is essential if you are going to later try to calculate your return on investment.

2. Choose your staff strategically. How many people you use to staff the booth will depend on the size of the show, but in general, try to have at least two people at your booth at all times. One person should be the greeter – someone who is friendly and is able to get people to stop and learn more about your business. The second person should be the demonstrator/presenter – someone who can demonstrate your expertise and answer questions.

As a kitchen and bath designer, you should try to have an area in your booth where you can give prospects a closer look at what you do. This may be an online or physical presentation of your portfolio, some interesting design ideas or some other engaging activity.

3. Invite prospects before the show. Some shows make their attendee lists available to exhibitors before the show. This would provide a good opportunity for you to reach out and invite attendees to stop by your booth or even schedule an appointment for a demonstration or presentation. You may need to offer incentives to respond. Appointment responses will be few and far between, but they will be very good prospects.

If the show does not provide an attendee list, you should at least contact your own list and let them know you’ll be exhibiting and where you can be found. Again, you may need to use incentives.

4. Use giveaways as motivators. Trade shows are famous for giveaways – mugs, key chains, tote bags, etc. – to build brand-name exposure. But how much do they contribute to your sales process? And how much do they cost? Giveaways should be motivational and should encourage specific action. For example, give out a coffee mug only to prospects who fill out a short questionnaire.

5. Ask qualifying questions. It’s easy to collect contact information at trade shows. You either collect business cards or scan trade show badges of everyone who stops at your booth. That’s a good start, but wouldn’t it be better if you also knew of their level of interest in having a kitchen or bathroom designed? Ask them to fill out a short questionnaire or lead qualification card. These same questions should be asked face to face with visitors to your booth.

6. Differentiate your leads. Not all leads have equal value. Some are tire kickers, some have long-term interest, and some are ready to start a project today. When you collect leads at your booth, try to find out who’s who.

Beyond interest level and timing, also try to determine the potential size of a sale. Are they looking for high-end solutions or something more modest? Are they looking for a complete makeover or just a few tweaks? At the end of the show, this information will be very helpful to you as your prioritize your follow up.

7. Follow up immediately. When you get back to the office, make it a priority to follow up immediately.  You don’t have to call everyone, but you should call the leads that showed some interest in what you offer. For the remaining leads, send a short email thanking them for stopping by your booth and then keep them on a regularly scheduled email sequence.

In all of your emails, give them an opportunity to show more interest and become a qualified lead. Offer them your Kitchen & Bath Design Guide (or something similar). Or offer a free design consultation – not your complete design, but some type of engagement to get things started.

Bob McCarthy is a creative marketing consultant and president of McCarthy & King Marketing.  He can be reached at 508-473-8643. If you visit his website www.mccarthyandking.com/kitchen-and-bath-marketing, you can download a FREE copy of The Kitchen & Bath Marketing Handbook.

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