K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

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Mar 06 2015

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Designers’ Views on Sharing Documents with Clients

Image by David Castillo Dominici, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by David Castillo Dominici, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In our K+BB Designers Network LinkedIn Group, Laura Vlaming, CKD, Arkiteriors, asked the following question: Independent Designers: How do you handle it when a client asks you for your Word documents (scope of work) and/or CAD files in lieu of PDF files?

Vlaming went on to share some more detail.I have a current client who has, and in the past I have shared my Autocad files with architects when working on a mutual project. This seems more invasive, and I wonder if there are any liabilities in sharing with clients. I do not have anything in the design agreement he signed addressing this.”

We want to share the responses from other designers with you.

Pete Walker, Developer, The Proximity Kitchensystem at Walker Design Group, proximitykitchen.com

If you’ve been paid for the work, [there’s] no reason not to share the files. I’d make sure you get the client to release you from any liability regarding revisions (yours) or alterations (anyone else’s) after you release the electronic files. There are other considerations, I’m sure, but this one seems most important.

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

Did you ask the client why he wants the files? This certainly sounds like he wants to make some changes somewhere. Pete makes a good point about being released from liability should you release electronic files.

Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS, Owner/Principal Designer at A Kitchen That Works

Our contract stipulates that only drawings marked “final” can be distributed (viewed) by anyone other than the client. So although Pete’s idea has merit, assuming you can get them to sign a release in advance and make sure your documents are stamped appropriately, i.e., DRAFT or FINAL.

Nina Green, Principal Interior Designer at NGD Interiors

I do release my designs if they have been paid for. However, in my contract it states that my design documents are not to be used for construction, permitting or other things that would have to be signed off on by an architect. I would make sure that is stated somewhere. If the [designs] have not been paid for, then no, and it states in my contract that all of my designs are my property.

Elizabeth (Eli) Hunter, Because YOUR Kitchen Should Be BITCHIN’! ™

I only release drawings with a design retainer paid in full and other documents (scope of work) with a signed contract for project management. The drawings belong to the client after payment, and they are free to have other contractors bid off of them but not other documents.

Vlaming’s final comments regarding the feedback:

Thanks everyone for your comments and emails. After updating myself regarding professional liability and copyright laws and how they relate, specifically, to our drawings, I am putting together an agreement for him to sign before I release them (IF, I choose to do that) and will add this to my design agreement.


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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

ShawnDoyle_High Res

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

TOLBERT_Head shot_4_23_14_low_res[2]

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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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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