Kitchen & Bath Design News

JAN 2018

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

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Page 39 of 119

I LOVE THIS time of year! I have a spring in my step, a fire in my belly, lightning in my mind, rainbows in my outlook and a big, shrewdly goofy smile on my face. And "why?" you may ask…well heck, it's trend season in the kitchen and bath world! Okay, that may sound a little eccentric, but spend a few minutes with me here and I will share why you should be this enthusiastic about trend data, too. And here's a hint: It's about being future forward in your outlook and posi- tioning your business for success. Let's start with focusing on the fact that trend reports are so much deeper than what shade of white or gray is hot today. These reports can provide deep insight and understanding that is incredibly valuable in strategizing and planning your business. The kitchen you sell today might be determined by the headline color of the day, but your long-term success and opportunity is found in the fundamental survey data. This material is what will help you, your business and your employees succeed in the future. My first piece of advice in studying trends is to read past the headlines, turn past the sum- mary page and dig into the data for yourself. That means that you need to get your hands on the actual report. Some are free, some charge a fee, but be willing to invest (time/money) in good trend reports and your future. FOCUS AREAS Here are four areas that I focus on first when reviewing trend data. How does your business' performance com- pare to the industry? Understanding whether you are under p erforming or over performing is a valuable insight in guiding your business. Did you know that Houzz releases a report that shows business results and future expectations by segment? It's called the State of the Industry report and you simply identify your segment and compare your own business to it. The rep ort shows results and expectations in growth and profitability plus additional performance metrics. How often can you really compare your business p erformance to other businesses? To find Houzz reports: Go to, scroll to the bottom of page and choose ABOUT, then Choose PRESS INFO and then click on HOUZZ Research. Who should be your target customer? Have you ever stopped and pondered who your customers should be, not who they are now? The National Association of Home Builders releases a phenomenal report several times a year. It updates historical, current and projected stats in remodeling, existing-home sales, new- home and multi-unit starts. Wow, is this data powerful! You can accurately identify market segments that are expanding and contracting. This data can be used to re-balance your busi- ness segment focus in an early, timely fashion. For instance, if you're heavily invested in new- home starts and see the expected trend line dip- ping, look at the charts and see what segment trend line is going up, and strategize about how to participate in that success instead. Houzz offers an excellent report, too, that compares tastes by generation. Ever wonder why recessed panel doors in gray and white paint are skyrocketing, but your parents are still looking at raised-panel doors in medium stains? Check out the Houzz reports and see generational shifts in tastes and purchasing power. Don't wonder – know the trend and be prepared to fulfill the needs of tomorrow's customer. What products should you be selling tomorrow? I approach this question by looking at trends in three different places. My goal is to identify what consumers will want and need in the future and position the business to meet that need. First is the National Kitchen & Bath Association's yearly trend report released at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. It's one of my favorite reports because the results come from surveying kitchen and bath professionals. It shows results by style, color, product type from last year and the expected trend growth or deterioration for the coming year. Here is a trick I use when reviewing styles and colors: I go to the detailed charts and circle with a black marker the categories that are expected to grow the most. Then with a red marker, I circle the categories that are predicted to decline the most. I then compare and look for commonality. If the fastest declining finish- es all have a yellow or red base in common, that tells me to advise my dealers to not invest in new displays featuring these colors. I want their precious showroom dollars to be focused on what their customers will want in the coming years. I pay less attention to what sells today; rather, I want our businesses to be smart inves- tors in tomorrow. I check out the Houzz trend report second because it specifically looks at completed proj- ects by homeowners. I focus on the genera- tional preferences in product and style choices. Again, I want my partners to invest in tomor- row's consumer. And lastly, I look at what consumers see at the grocery store checkout line and on HGTV. Go ahead and Google "kitchen trends" right now and you will see HGTV first on the list. That's what our customers see, so knowing their inspirational starting point is essential in our sales plan. What words help you sell more? As a sales guy, I'm interested in words that influence peo- ple. I love to read trends and pay attention to the verbiage used in the reports, especially by the consumer respondents. These words connect with purchasers; that's why they used them. Mixing proven verbiage into our sales nar- rative improves our success in connecting and closing sales. Every year I list words from pos- itive responses in surveys and I purposefully work them into my personal talking points. As a habit, I casually use them over and over until the people on my team naturally use them, too. As an example, the Houzz 2017 trend survey mentioned that the top three reasons why people added built-in storage to their kitchens were: better use of space, easier-to-find items and reduced clutter. Obviously these three points are big selling features to consumers, so I want to make sure that everyone is condi- tioned to blend these three points into their sales conversations. Beyond these areas of focus, I recommend that you make collecting trend data at least a quarterly effort. Yes, January is chock-full of yearly trend report releases, but consumers, business and the world change at breakneck speed. Today's world rewards companies that are nimble and quick in responding to change, and it swiftly punishes those that are not. So, build a plan to take full advantage of the trove of business-building information that starts rolling out this month. ▪ John Morgan is well respected for his work helping kitchen and bath professionals evolve their businesses. He served as NKBA national president in 2013 and was recently named a KBDN Top 50 Innovator. He currently serves the industry as a consultant, rep, trainer, colum- nist and national speaker, and can be reached at John. JOHN MORGAN " Identify what consumers will want and need in the future, and position your business to meet that need." Using Trends to Strategize Your Business 40 Kitchen & Bath Design News • January 2018 FUTURE FORWARD

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