Kitchen & Bath Design News

JUL 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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who may not have otherwise considered engaging a design rm in their remodeling projects. Some, however, take it a big step further. Kurtis Kitchen & Bath has rmly established itself as a xture of the community through donating design and construction services to local organizations, most notably re stations. This practice of donating design services "actually kind of happened by accident," recalls Kuretzky. Upon learning from one of his electricians that a nearby re station was essentially trying to "Frankenstein a kitchen together" from old displays, Kuretzky stepped in to take point on the project, free of charge. And what benet has Kurtis Kitchens seen from its charitable rebuilding, aside from good karma points? "That good word going around says we do more than just try to make money. I think that's really what we get out of it," says Kuretzky. "It's just been good word of mouth, and word of mouth creates foot trac." In an industry where good word of mouth is one of the most valuable assets a design rm can have, this kind of organic publicity can be invaluable. Neil Kelly Company also participates in local charitable building projects, particularly those associated with Habitat for Humanity. "We're just getting ready to start building our fourth [Habitat for Humanity] house," Spence notes. "We also get together with other contractors and build accessi- bility ramps into homes and do repair work through the Homebuilders' Association." NO OPPORTUNITY TOO SMALL Of course, not every community engagement needs to be a massive undertaking – there are myriad opportunities to increase brand visibility in small, creative ways every day. Stephenson often volunteers for events such as charity golf tournaments and sports events. "If my job is to drive around and hand out beer and Jell-o shots to all the players, I always keep my business cards on me…I'm representing my compa- ny. And then I can take pictures and post them on my com- pany's social media sites," she explains. She adds that she will often sponsor events. "If I sponsor water bottles or something, my company logo goes on all the advertisements." McCabe's rm also seeks out opportunities to become di- rectly involved in the community, from sponsoring food bank 'fun runs' to sorting compostable and recyclable materials at parades and street fairs. "This year we also sponsored an event called the Trashion Show, where kids and adults create fashion out of discarded items," she adds. The company also donates design consultations to school fundraising events and other nonprots. Aside from its expansive mentorship program, Neil Kelly Company also oers monthly seminars at a nearby communi- ty college on the ins and outs of kitchen remodeling projects. "A lot of people say, 'oh my gosh, this is way more involved than I thought it would be,'" Spence says. "Every month when we oer a seminar, there will be some people who say 'yes, come visit me. I want you to come take a look at my project.' We don't have to do anything heavy handed – it isn't pushy at all. Most of what we need to do with clients is to educate them as to their choices, so they can make good ones." And if the best choice happens to be working with Neil Kelly Company, well, so much the better. Additionally, Neil Kelly Company participates in other community initiatives such as Meals on Wheels. "The benet I see in our community service is brand-building," Spence says. "Our communities know that we're thoroughly invested. They know what our values are. They see us stepping up. That makes a big dierence and always has for how we're perceived as a company. We can only benet from that." ▪ or come to the oce for the day?' or handed me their card for if I had any questions," Stephenson explains. In addition to speaking frequently in classrooms, Stephenson has made a point of extending invitations to students to shadow her and ask questions. She reects that job shadowing is one of the best ways for future designers to get a taste of just how granular the design process can be; she recalls one partic- ular mentee squirming during a discussion at a Ferguson showroom about the importance of the right toilet height and seat-opening width. McCabe has found yet another way of educating those around her while getting her rm's name out there: writing for her local shelter magazine. "[I write articles about] design and construction – everything from…how to pick the right people for your project and how to budget for your project to how to pick the right ceiling fan." According to McCabe, this has the added benet of not only promoting her rm without ever having to pay for print advertising, but also cultivating a high- er level of trust in new clients. "I still get emails and phone calls from people saying, 'Oh, I read your article and I'm really excited,'" she adds. DESIGNING FOR A CAUSE It's not uncommon for designers to contribute vouchers for complementary design services or free consultations to auctions and other events. Oering consultations as prizes in charitable raes might be a convenient way to draw in clients Designer Ebony Stephenson speaks to students at Virginia Tech about what it takes to be a Certified Aging-in-Place designer. Photo: Courtesy of Ebony Stephenson 40 Kitchen & Bath Design News • July 2019 MARKETING

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