Kitchen & Bath Design News

AUG 2014

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

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Editorial { Janice Costa, editor } Group Publisher Mark Taussig Publisher Emeritus Eliot Sefrin Editor Janice Anne Costa Managing Editor Anita Shaw Senior Editor Kim Berndtson Assistant Editor Kristina Diggins-Reisinger Contributing Writers Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS Elizabeth Richards Denise Vermeulen Columnists Ellen Cheever, CMKBD, ASID, CAPS Hank Darlington Leslie Hart Bruce Kelleran, CKD, CPA Stephen Nicholls Ken Peterson, CKD Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CAPS Sarah Reep, CMKBD, ASID, CMG, CAPS, IIDA Bryan Reiss, CMKBD Eric Schimelpfenig, AKBD Art Director Kirsten Crock Media Production Rep Cindy Rusch Editor, Andrea Girolamo Web Site Manager Thamaraj Udomwongyont Audience Development Manager Tammy Steller Reader Service Manager Jeff Heine Administrative Assistant Jenni Ehlke-Heyer Chief Executive Ofcer John French Chief Financial Ofcer Paul Bonaiuto E.V.P., Building & Construction Kris Flitcroft V.P., Content Greg Udelhofen V.P., Marketing Debbie George Director, Digital Sales Norine Conroy V.P., Production Operations Curt Pordes V.P., Audience Development Julie Nachtigal V.P., Technology Eric Kammerzelt V.P., Human Resources Ed Wood Copyright © 2014 by Cygnus Business Media, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be produced in any form, including electronically, without written permission from the publisher of Kitchen & Bath Design News . A CYGNUS BUSINESS MEDIA PUBLICATION ® August 2014 | 5 @KitchenBathDesignNews I t's been a rough day. I woke up late and nearly ran out of gas on the way to work, barely made an important conference call because my Outlook has suddenly determined that I'm on Midwest time, and then got to the dog's 7 p.m. acupuncture session…only to realize her appointment is actually tomorrow. "You need a calendar app," my friend tells me. I have a calendar app. Un- fortunately, this only works if you set it up. And program in all of your scheduled activi- ties. And have a phone that doesn't only stay charged for four hours ever since you accidentally left it plugged in overnight. But it occurs to me that what I need is not more technology, or even better technology. What I really need are better systems. I've gotten into the habit of liv- ing life on the fy, and then turning my life over to tech- nology when things get too busy,. Yet neither is ideal from a productivity standpoint be- cause both fail to start with a central plan. Talking to my designer friends, I fnd it's a common refrain. We rely on memory instead of systems; "smart" devices instead of inter- active communication or planning; artistry instead of business savvy. We waiver between trying to keep it all in our heads, or entrusting everything to technology, forgetting that technology is only a tool, and cannot get us where we need to go unless we frst devise a direction and a strategy for getting there. Planning is hard work, which is why so many busi- nesses still fail to begin with a solid business plan. Yet in his "Bettering Your Bottom Line" column (see Page 20), Ken Peterson details why planning things out to the end is so important, both for gaining knowledge and grow- ing your business. In a recent RICKI survey (see story, Page 46), 79% of dealers and designers polled cited clients' unrealistic bud- get expectations as a major problem – yet few seemed to have a plan for addressing this problem. In fact, of those who had "fred" a client dur- ing the design process, 12% did so for lack of adequate budget – something that likely could have been avoid- ed if a system was in place to qualify clients at the start. Likewise, when it comes to charging a design fee, de- signers seem to be all over the place: Some charge one but refund it if the prospect becomes a client; others say "it depends," with the decision based on a variety of (largely subjective) factors, from the perceived agreeableness of the prospect to "how serious" the prospect seems about the job. Others don't charge one at all. Yet 55% of designers surveyed say one of their biggest complaints is clients seeking free designs and then shopping them around – a problem that would seeming- ly be addressed by making it standard policy to charge a design fee. Sure, it's nice to be able to make decisions on a case by case basis sometimes. And, as creative professionals, many of us fnd ourselves naturally resistant to systems, view- ing them as constricting or simply boring. Yet efcient systems are not at odds with being creative or forging rela- tionships with clients; in fact, when done well, they support and promote our creative ef- forts and relationships. As an example, in this month's portfolio of show- rooms (see story, Page 36), a well-thought-out system helps a newly en la rged showroom maximize design appeal while minimizing sensory overload. Another showroom features a De- sign Lab that incorporates systems to promote client interaction with the products, encourage discussion and, ul- timately, increase sales. Systems also apply to personal communication. For instance, the vast major- ity of dealers and designers say they start the design process by having a lengthy discussion with clients to determine their likes and dis- likes, needs, budget, etc. Most seem to prefer an open-end- ed conversation to a written questionnaire, as they feel it's more interactive and better for picking up on any un- spoken subtext. But unless there's a system in place to ensure the conversation has addressed all the key points, it's easy to forget something. Just as every great kitch- en or bath starts with a plan and a system to get from tear out to completed de- sign, every business needs an overall plan and well- thought-out systems to help get there. And that applies to everything from business management to client rela- tions to showroom design. Smart Systems Make for Smart Businesses Too often, designers rely on tools like memory or technology, rather than having solid, well-thought-out systems in place to enhance their communications, design processes and overall proftability. "Efcient systems are not at odds with being creative or forging relationships with clients; in fact, when done well, they support and promote our creative eforts and relationships."

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