KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for April, 2017

Apr 30 2017

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Dream Clean

Bosch introduces a new dishwasher line designed to simplify kitchen cleanup through an array of features, including the new MyWay rack.

This week’s #KBTribeChat covered dishwashers – everything from the new high-tech features to the logistics of what consumers really want. My husband is a bit of an expert when it comes to dishwashers (he works for a company that sells and services commercial appliances), so I asked him what he thought of them.

“Everything collapses in a restaurant when the dishwasher is down,” he explained, adding that a recent problem with one of his client’s dishwashers kept most of the restaurant staff working all night to get the kitchen in order until the right parts came in. “Without it, the whole system stops working.”
It’s just the same in a home. When a family learns to rely on a dishwasher, it can either alleviate a lot of stress or cause a lot of frustration. At this week’s KBTribeChat, we learned several tips and tricks to making dishwasher use for your clients even easier.

1. Look for a pre-steam function, which will loosen food particles before the wash starts. GE Appliances offers this function in its newest line.

2. Help the dishwasher do its job by checking the filter every other month.

3. Scrape – don’t rinse. You of course don’t want big food particles on your plates, but you’ll get a much better clean with detergent if there is some leftover residue.

4. Fresh detergent is key. Old detergent may not dissolve and will leave a gritty residue.

5. Try a connected dishwasher, which can notify the user when the cycle is done.

What complaints and praises do your clients have for their dishwashers? What are they looking for in one? Let us know on our Facebook page, on Twitter @kbbonline and Instagram @Kbb_Magazine. Join KBTribeChat next Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST by looking for #KBTribeChat on Twitter.

Apr 26 2017

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Three Tips to Win Customer Trust

After a customer picks us as their bathroom remodeler, we send them a quick survey. At the end of it is an open-ended question, “Why did you select us?” I ask this because I want our whole company to know why and then emphasize our best traits to grow the business.

The most common answer is a simple one: our customers choose us because they trust us. We will be working on their home and in their home, doing projects that will keep their family comfortable and improve the value of their most valuable possession. Of course it’s about trust.

Somewhere along the way, our customers decide we are the experts they trust the most. That can be from meeting our sales team, talking to our office staff or reading something about us online. You can earn more customers by investing in the right resources to build your credibility, and here are the resources we recommend emphasizing:

Awards. Think of all the ways you can stand out from your competition. You’re established, you’ll be there if problems arise, and your installers are the best in the business. These qualities can all be embodied in the awards you have won. We showcase ours prominently when talking with potential customers. The message boils down to this: experts in our field think we run an excellent business, so you can trust us to treat your home like our own.

– Testimonials & Reviews. Customers want an easy way to tell they can trust you with their home. What better way to communicate that than to quote customers who trusted you previously and had that trust rewarded with excellent work? If you can, provide photos of the work you’ve done to go along with the reviews. After all, seeing is believing. New customers seek out reviews and choose you based on how you have treated your previous customers.

– Warranties. This is a procedure I would strongly recommend building into your business, and it ties into winning awards and earning great testimonials. Stand by your products, and do it in writing. If you present a written promise that you will stand by your work, that reinforces the trustworthy impression already given by your awards and reviews.

If your customer hears from multiple sources that you are trustworthy, and you stand behind your work in writing, you are setting yourself up for success. When you think about vital assets for your company, few are as important as your credibility. As a credible company, your customers will come to the table already trusting you to do right by them. Highlighting your awards, reviews and excellent warranties – you build that asset and in turn build your business.

Allen Erskine is the owner of Kansas City-based Alenco Inc. – in business and growing since 1986 and ranked in the top 100 largest remodelers nationwide.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apr 21 2017

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Delta Faucet Event Unveils New Products

KBB was recently invited to attend a press event at Delta Faucet Co.’s new Manoogian Center, a $15,000-million addition to the company’s headquarters in Indianapolis that celebrates its founder, Alex Manoogian.

We were given a look behind the scenes to see where the inspiration for the company’s designs originates, how they test packaging to ensure the products are getting to their customers safe and sound, how they incorporate new technology into their collections and how they test products for various certifications.

“We think faucets are of the utmost importance,” said Brian Noble, senior director, Brizo and marketing services. “After all, people interact with them multiple times a day.”

The Model Shop in the Innovation/Research Lab on the lower level

In terms of inspiration, Judd Lord, senior director of industrial design, and his team do a lot of traveling to national and international events to study various trends, including furniture and even automotive.

“We want to get out there and activate our senses,” he explained, adding that the creation of entire collections from start to finish takes anywhere from 18 months to two years.

My personal favorite was the RSVP Collection – a very literal, elegant take on the female figure.

Regarding new technology, it is helpful to keep looking forward to determine future needs.

“I started working on our H2O Kinetic technology in 2001 because I knew water regulations and the green movement were coming,” said Paul Patton, senior R&D/regulatory manager. “It’s important to pay attention to regulations coming down the road.”

What’s New for Delta and Brizo

Whereas research points to aesthetics being first on consumers’ lists of requirements, function/performance is following along closely. Brizo takes both seriously with its fashion-forward approach, as well as tech elements that include an electronic proportioning valve offered in some of its collections.

The Litze Bathroom Collection was introduced at KBIS 2016, and now the brand offers the Litze Kitchen Collection (above), which will be available later this year. It is available with three different spout options, two choices of handles and five finishes. When asked during KBIS 2017, attendees were most enamored with the black and gold split-finish option.

Brizo is also introducing the Vettis Bath Collection (above), which was inspired by the Vettisfossen waterfall in Norway, and both brands have created new display systems to elevate their products in the showroom setting (Delta below left, Brizo below right).

Apr 17 2017

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A Family Legacy

It is rare to find a family-run business that has survived more than a century of change – including two World Wars, the introduction of gas fuel and the rate of innovation seen today. One range-maker has done just that, and I was honored to explore the culture, land and the people who created and sustained the company.

We were first immersed in the region of Emilia-Romagna in Midwestern Italy. The region is known for its Parmesan cheese and prosciutto ham – the making of which can be considered an art form. I first saw the making of Parmesan cheese from beginning to end. I stole up into a centuries-old attic to see barrels of balsamic vinegar, which are aged for more than 20 years. The craftsmanship and care the people put into their products is obvious, and the history is perhaps what makes these companies so genuine.

One of the most prominent manufacturers in the region is Bertazzoni, which started in the late 19th century in a small Italian town called Guastalla, outside of Parma. Francesco Bertazzoni, who made precision-weighing machines for the cheese industry, wondered if the wood-burning stoves being used for heating railcars could be used for an indoor range. By 1907, he and his son Antonio had begun making their own stoves by hand and sending them all over Italy.

19th Century: These precision-measuring instruments were made by Francesco Bertazzoni for local trades, from Parmesan cheesemakers to pharmacists.

Their story progressed over the last century to gas fueling and modern looks, including a collection specifically for the American market. Today Bertazzoni is known as a luxury brand that combines different technologies together – gas, electricity, induction, microwave and steam – with the heart of Italian cooking in mind.
1930s: Stove performance improved with hot gases from the fire forced around the sides of the stove to maximize heating efficiency.

We were invited to experience this first hand by cooking with a local chef in the Bertazzoni kitchen. I love to cook, but Italians cook much differently – and often much better – than we do. I saw how a convection oven could caramelize brown sugar just right on sliced Roma tomatoes and how a proofing option could help a focaccia bread rise perfectly. I really don’t think there is anything better than focaccia bread straight from the oven, drizzled with local olive oil.

 Inside the Bertazzoni kitchen, we learned to make dishes like these lasagna rolls.

After several hours of cooking and chatting, everyone – including the fifth and sixth generations of the Bertazzoni family – sat down together and shared wine, fresh mozzarella cheese and a cake celebrating 135 years of business. We stayed long past sunset, when the chef finally declared that he needed to go home to feed his dog. It’s very Italian to arrive as strangers and leave as family, and that’s what good food, a great kitchen and a lovely place can cook up.

Exploring Parma was magical – it’s like a storybook of quiet streets and charming cafes.