When I first started in the industry, it was normal to go into a kitchen or bathroom store and sit down with the salesperson to discuss their plans with them, ironing out any potential issues.
This led to a greater understanding between the two parties.
Now that everything is sent via email and communication via text is not uncommon, you don’t have that same connection between the installer and the salesperson. I think that’s a problem.
I think for the high street stores, it would be a wise move to do more to encourage that one-on-one connection.
Salespeople not more skilled
Is there a slight white collar versus blue collar at play here as well?
In my experience salespeople can often view themselves as having a higher skill level than an installer which, if I’m honest, is not an unusual environment for a tradesman to find himself in.
In boutique showrooms there are more designers who understand the installation process better and are more highly qualified to have an opinion.
In the mass market kitchen industry, a salesperson, having previously worked in any high street store, with a few weeks training can suddenly find themselves as a kitchen designer.
Part of that training should be in the field with the fitter who will be installing their designs.
The mass market has the biggest volume of kitchen sales, so the problem is always going to be highlighted in this market.
More sales than design
We love working with kitchen designers but, in reality, what you have more often than not are salespeople and as an installer this can mean you have more issues to work around.
It can be a slight ‘cooker cutter’ design process, with little or no thought to actual design but more created to sell. Selling up to the customers budget.
In this kind of process where the installer is quoting for all the things that will actually bring the kitchen to life, electrics, plumbing, tiling, etc., they can add what can be another 15-25% onto the overall cost.
If the client is already at their budget and cancels the order, who’s fault is it? The installers? This is a typical scenario that can lead to divide.
Salespeople can sometimes lack the understanding of what it takes to install a kitchen and how many tradesmen and how many man hours are actually involved in the installation process.
When a customer walks into a kitchen showroom and says ‘that’s our budget’ the salesperson really needs to start with the potential additional costs and work backwards.
Of course, we all want to up-sell but if the gulf is too big, it’s left to the installer to try and sell the project or fear the cancellation and subsequent blame.
I can only encourage high street store managers to get their salespeople out of the showroom once in a while and on to an installation.
Let them learn first-hand how their designs can impact the installer, let the installer lead them to better design for the client.
We are all working towards the same goal but for it to work more efficiently, salespeople and installers need to find a way to work more closely and find better ways of communicating.
We are all on the same side. Let’s work together.
This article was first published by Kitchens & Bathrooms News in May 2019 https://www.kandbnews.co.uk/business/design/design-it-out-work-with-fitters/