When it comes to succeeding in today’s rapidly evolving kitchen/bath market, there are seemingly as many similarities as differences among leading design pros.
And there are plenty of both.
It’s obvious, for instance, that today’s designers – operating in an ever-more-fragmented, competitive and technologically driven market – represent a diverse array of business models, from dealerships maintaining large, brick-and-mortar showrooms to independent firms whose principals work from tiny studios, shared spaces or home-based offices. Some design firms carry hefty payrolls, reflective of sky-high annual volume, while others, generating only modest revenue, maintain skeleton staffs or work solo, outsourcing many services they provide.
And the differences don’t stop there.
Designers’ educations, backgrounds, gender and experience levels vary just as dramatically. So do geographic markets, targeted clients, revenue sources, product mix, use of subcontractors and the types of projects the businesses undertake.
Even more striking than this universe of differences, though, are the commonalities shared by the wide cross-section of topflight design pros whose insights provided the backbone for an exclusive, eight-city seminar series – “Client Engagement Strategies for Today’s Evolving Market” – being rolled out by Kitchen & Bath Design News in Atlanta this month (see related story, “2016 Seminar Kickoff Set for This Month”).
What’s especially striking, for one thing, is that every successful design pro has apparently figured out – often after years of trial and error –precisely what business model works best for them, and each possesses the ability to leverage that model to their advantage. Traditional showrooms, for example, often leverage their ability to enable clients to touch and feel a vast array of product. Home-based designers, in contrast, often tout how clients can benefit from lower overhead and, hence, more modest pricing.
But there’s even more to the designers’ success formula than merely that.
Each one, it’s clear, targets the specific clients they wish to work with, and actively works to establish consultative relationships based on personal rapport, expertise, transparency and regular communication.
Each understands the psychology of selling – how emotion and lifestyle and need combine to impact buying decisions – and skillfully employs product displays, vignettes, samples, powerful digital technologies and cutting-edge sales-presentation strategies to create a personal experience and engage clients through their heart as well as their mind.
Each makes a point of collaborating with a trusted group of tradesmen, allied professionals, employees and vendors who share their standards when it comes to product quality, customer service and fulfillment of the promises they make.
Each utilizes a sophisticated web site and maintains a strong social media presence, embracing the growing plethora of online resources, software, kitchen/bath-related apps and marketing tools revolutionizing the industry.
Each has a clear, well-thought-out mission statement, business plan and marketing campaign focused on a clearly established brand.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, every successful designer in the kitchen and bath trade demonstrates that they’re never satisfied with the status quo or what they’ve accomplished. Always, they’re driven to be better, to adapt, to learn, to grow, to do more.
Those are the qualities that build reputations and successful businesses of all types. They’re also the qualities to emulate as 2016 takes hold, and the market continues to evolve.