Kitchen & Bath Design News

JUN 2019

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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Recent privacy breeches among even some of the biggest companies – ranging from Google and Facebook to Apple and Amazon – have also created concerns about safety issues, according to dealers and designers interviewed. While that doesn't necessarily deter consumers' interest in technology, it does create more questions that industry pros may have to answer, especially when specifying products that include cam- eras in personal spaces, or that involve home security systems that could potentially be breached. SAVING TIME Time savings has long been touted as one of the greatest benefits of technology, and this has become increasingly im- portant in the face of industry labor shortages. But while some dealers and designers love the ease of sharing design files on Dropbox, communicating with clients through Messenger, cre- ating detailed design drawings using various design software programs or helping clients visualize their dream spaces using virtual reality, not all technology saves time. Bill Weeks, manager of Coastal Kitchen Interiors in Naples, FL, is one of many design professionals who relies on design software to enhance his firm's efficiency. However, he notes, "Our major concern is with the current design software having numerous bugs and issues that cause unnecessary re- work and delays." Steep learning curves – both for software and for new soft- ware updates – are also problematic for some design profes- sionals, especially in cases where employees wear many hats. Patrick Kennedy, v.p. of Superior Woodcraft in Doylestown, PA, says, "Our staff doesn't want to take weeks to learn software when they could accomplish the task faster without learning the software. Ease of use and making life better for the staff must be evident very quickly or the staff will not in- vest themselves in learning how to use the programs and they will fail." Sometimes, the technology is great, but designers will forego it if it leads to more time and work that doesn't ulti- mately enhance the bottom line. For instance, at WS Dennison Cabinets Inc. in Pembroke, NH, residential designer Monique St. Laurent claims her clients "love the 3D design as part of their presentation." However, there's a downside to that: "I've found that, if I show them [the design] in color, they will often make time-consuming changes to have you show them new paint colors/floor colors, etc. Just selling cabinetry and coun- tertops, this isn't a productive use of [our] time." Another challenge for designers using technology in their drawings and presentations is that they sometimes find themselves competing with what consumers see on television. According to Ingrid Fraley, president of Design Services Inc. in Gaithersburg, MD, "Consumers are being 'wowed' by HGTV client projects and expect to have the same level of computer renderings, virtual walk thrus, etc., while assuming that they are inexpensive and easy to do. They have no comprehension regarding the labor intensity required to 'build' the room/ house, much less the addition of finishes and furnishings. We have a condo board that wants virtual concepts at all three phases of the project – preliminary, revised and final. Since they do not understand the complexity of the request, they balk at the costs involved…where in HGTV land, everything is for free." Other industry pros, like David Svitak, owner of Svitak Custom Woodworking in Spirit Lake, ID, worry that technol- ogy sometimes comes at the expense of the craft itself. As he sees it, "More and more time is spent sitting behind a comput- er [rather] than actually doing the physical work to produce a product." While design programs have evolved to produce ev- er-more-realistic high-quality drawings, learning the programs and keeping track of the updates take time, and in the end, he feels, "My clients don't care about how fancy drawings might look; they care more about the finished product and finding a person who is capable of providing that for them." Svitak worries that an over reliance on technology has, in some cases, caused some professionals to focus less on their actual craft and, as a result, he finds himself moving away from some of the new technology, which he's come to believe sometimes wastes more time than it saves. Robert Johnson, owner of SoHo Kitchen and Bath in Dalton, GA, on the other hand, says, "We have no issues and we try to utilize [technology] as much as possible." However, he admits that it's not always easy to get clients to recognize and accept the costs associated with the added value that tech- nology adds. Ultimately, though, while most designers are excited about today's technology, they still wrestle with the challenges of time, training, cost and speed of change. Just as with any product they use or sell, they want to make smart choices that will enhance their business, and improve their clients' projects and lives. ▪ 2 DEALERS' & DESIGNERS' CONCERN LEVEL ABOUT PRIVACY ISSUES 3 BIGGEST SOFTWARE ISSUES FOR DEALERS/DESIGNERS Not at all concerned No issues Very concerned High cost Somewhat concerned Too time intensive Not very concerned Lack of training/steep learning curve Source: KBDN Survey 2019 Source: KBDN Survey 2019 33.3% 28.6% 14.3% 23.8% 23.8% 14.3% 28.6% 33.3% June 2019 • KitchenBathDesign.com 53

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