KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for March, 2012

Mar 30 2012

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Why sales has a bad rap in the k & b business

Editor’s note: We’ve added a new blogger, Nick Ritota, CKD, CBD, who is director of sales & marketing for CompanionCabinet Software, LLC. Ritota will be sharing his insight on cabinet sales and other issues related to the business of kitchens and baths. Here’s his first post:

Ask most kitchen designers to describe salespeople and you’re likely to get responses such as overbearing, used car salesman or even pond scum. We tend to think that the science of selling is far separated from the art of design; I beg to differ.
We all need to sell to have successful careers in this industry. While there was a time when design was king (let’s call that pre-2008 when they were beating the door down to get in), it was a mistake then to view the world that way. Think about it, if we were effective salespeople back then, we would have closed even more when times were good. We simply lost the ones we couldn’t manage due to the volume of qualified buyers.

Some shops solve the problem by having experienced salespeople up front and relegating design to the back room. While the salesperson may not know everything about design, they do know enough to package a sale for the consumer. And if you have a qualified drafter in the back (think visor, elastic around the cuffs and quill pen), you can correct the design before any error gets sold.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that pretty much reduces a designer to a commodity. And in this world, commodities are easily found and relatively low in value in the overall scheme of things.

So what do we have to change to succeed in the new world order? You guessed it, we need to learn how to qualify and close: two foundations of selling. Had we been thinking about the sales process back when the market was good, we would not have experienced the fall-off we have today. We would be taking share from those who didn’t know how to sell.

What we have to do differently:

Qualify prospects. Knowing when the customer intends to pull the trigger, what their budget may be and how many places they have already shopped for the remodel flushes out most tire kickers.
Actively listen and sell to the why. If a customer is trying to upgrade just to sell their home, it is a much different sale from someone who is staying put and wants a chef’s kitchen.
• Get into the home. The first one that gets into the home usually has the best opportunity to close.
Avoid version hell. Your presentation should include a good, better, best approach based on your active listening; less versions means more opportunity to sell
Quantify the project. Present your three plans and ask where you missed
Qualify the desire to buy. Ask, “If I understood your needs correctly and brought back this plan with your changes, do you feel as though you would buy from me?”
Close the deal. Ask for the sale…too often we think that any pressure to close makes us bad people; it is absolutely what you need to do to sell your project!

Finally, consumers aren’t interested in the minutia of the sale. Showing features, functions and benefits and racks of door styles confuses the buyer; and a confused buyer never buys. If you are listening to the consumer, you should be able to put recommendations together and advise them on what would work. Here is where your design expertise should be front and center.
Selling involves a pre-calculated, repeatable, systematic approach that leads to a predictable percentage of closing rates for you and your business.

Mar 29 2012

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Architectural Digest Home Design Show: Part 2

A morning meeting with Ann Sacks today just confirmed one of the things I enjoy about being in the kitchen and bath industry, which is seeing new surfacing and tile products. Sounds a little geeky, right? But it’s true. Ann Sacks has some incredible products it will be showing at KBIS, and as soon as I get my hands on some images, I’ll post them, because they’re so very lovely.

In the meantime, I wanted to post some more photos I took at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. First up is Artistic Tile, whose booth had much to ogle. Interestingly, some of what I saw ties up quite nicely with the products I saw this morning in terms of trends. Metallics and mirrored looks seem to be acquiring a bit of a following and are a elegant way to add excitement for those who are still color shy. Besides, there’s something rather honest and substantial about contrasts in materials and finish; no doubt they’re also much more enduring in appeal. The first image shows a metal and glass design and the second is of mirrored glass series.

Texture, as we have been hearing for while now, is still quite prevalent and offers yet another strategy for spicing up a kitchen or bath with a muted color palette.

A company I didn’t know prior to the show, Manhattan Forest Products showed some beautiful wood options, all reclaimed from local historic buildings and landmarks, such as the Coney Island Boardwalk and factories in Brooklyn, or old barns and houses in Appalachia.

The show had little in the way of plumbing, but this kitchen faucet caught my eye because I usually associate Franke with more streamlined contemporary designs, but that’s just me being ignorant. This one has a transitional bent, which will no doubt appeal to the U.S. market. Available in chrome, Old World bronze, polished nickel and satin nickel, the line also includes a faucet with a more traditional-style spout, as well as coordinating potfillers and a soap dispenser.

These last few images aren’t kitchen- or bath-related, but are of products that make a show like this interesting and fun—so much so that I toyed with the idea of driving into the city over the weekend and spending another day looking at the non-k-and-b booths (but I didn’t). The first two show furniture by Bart Niswonger and the last shows some bird decoration that I happened to see on my way out.

Mar 28 2012

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Architectural Digest Home Design Show: Part 1 (because I don’t want to overwhelm you with bad photography)

So you saw the photos I took of the DIFFA Dining by Design exhibit, which, again, was pretty spectacular. Following are some images of products on display at this year’s Architectural Digest Home Design Show. One of the first stops I made was to check out Capital Cooking’s new Connoisseurian dual-fuel range, which incorporates a gas cooktop with sealed or open burners, a motorized rotisserie system and the company’s MoistRoast cooking feature. As you may have already guessed by its name, the latter prevents food from drying out in the oven by adding moisture—not steam—during the cooking process. The unit comes in 30-in., 36-in., 48-in. and 60-in. sizes and 10 standard colors. Showing it in this vibrant red was a smart move, no?

I missed last year’s show, so I didn’t get to see Best by Broan’s display of its Sorpresa Collection, which I was told was quite stunning. This year, I wanted to make sure I stopped by to see its latest. The Sorpresa Generation II Collection several new striking designs, including Sphera, which I find amusing only because I’ve seen this shape as a light fixture and a showerhead.

Offered in black or white, it measures 19 7/8 in. in diameter, offers four speeds and, in case you haven’t already surmised, is an air recirculator. Modulare is not part of the new Sorpresa II line, but I thought it looked quite attractive with that contrast in finishes.

Ever since I attended an Aga cooking demonstration, I’ve been fascinated by Aga ranges and the way food is prepared on them. A detail that did leave me scratching my head a little was its energy usage, as it stays on, whether in use or not.

Its newest model may help to allay that concern. The AGA Total Control has been equipped with touch-screen controls that allow you to turn the cooker on and off as needed and program it in a variety of ways, including automatic on once or twice a day and quick oven preheating. Because the roasting, simmering and baking ovens each have a dedicated heat source, they can be individually controlled, providing greater cooking flexibility; the same is true of the hotplates. There’s also a remote.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really stop to talk to anyone at the DOM booth (I was late for another appointment), which showed Valcucine’s Logica System, but I did snap these photos of its oh-so-cool features, such as these spice shelves that swivel out for easier reach and back when no longer needed. The wall cabinet is equipped with upper doors, as well as lower doors that slide upward (shown in the lower right-hand corner of the image) to keep everything out of sight,

including a faucet, which again swivels out when you need it, and plenty of storage. I also want to call your attention to the LED-illuminated disks—do you see them?

Yeah, those are sliding outlets. Cool, no?

For a better look at the kitchen, here’s a video I found on the Valcucine website.

Mar 26 2012

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DIFFA Dining by Design

I spent all of last Thursday at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show at Pier 94 in New York City. There was much to see at the show, as I found myself snapping many more photos than I intended. I haven’t had a chance to go through all of them, as well as the press kits I picked up, so in the meantime, I thought I would post the images I did take while touring a highlight of the show, the DIFFA Dining by Design exhibit, which features dining installations created by several celebrated and up-and-coming designers, as well as design students.

An acronym for Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, DIFFA was established in 1984 by Patricia Green and Larry Pond to grant funds to organizations that offer direct care for people living with HIV/AIDS and preventive education for those at risk. In addition to providing a gorgeous venue for a fundraising cocktail reception and gala, both of which seemed very popular events this year, as tickets were sold out, the installations are definitely a sight to behold and brim with creativity and drama.