In the second of a series of articles for KBBFocus, business consultant and trainer Toby Griffin of KBBSupport.com looks at the opportunities and pitfalls of expanding a bathrooms business into kitchens, and offers advice and pointers to help you make the decision whether to branch out.
Your bathrooms business is running fine, everyone knows what they’re doing, and – apart from occasional issues – you’ve got a solid, smooth-running and profitable operation. But industry friends, staff, suppliers and even customers keep asking when you are going to go into kitchens. Not wanting to upset the current business, but excited by the opportunity, you are tempted. There are some differences between bathrooms and kitchens, but also there are many similarities too, so let’s look at them here.
In terms of how bathrooms and kitchens businesses differ, firstly – from a design and specification perspective – there is a big change for the team when they switch to kitchens, as now suddenly centimetres and millimetres bring on an importance (and potential disaster) that was rarely, if ever, the case in bathrooms. Unless your team has specified a lot of fitted bathroom furniture, they might not be used to the pressure for uniformity and accuracy required in kitchen design, so this will take some getting used to.
Aside from the occasional digital shower, there aren’t many electrical items in a bathroom that require much more than just wiring up and switching on; but with kitchens (and particularly for some customers) the culinary experience is what they are buying the kitchen for, so your staff will need to get ready to learn about the huge and wonderous world of appliances. Luckily, after an initial surge of information and options, you’ll settle down, noticing that different brands offer many similar types of products, features and benefits – but not always with the same name!
The next product that makes only a fleeting appearance in bathrooms, but is fast becoming a staple of kitchens, is solid surface worktops. So it’s time to start looking around for good fabricators, get some sample quotes, compare service levels, go and visit a few factories, and chat to the templaters. The co-ordination and co-operation with your fabricators will be paramount in the smooth delivery of your installations.
Joiner, Carpenter, Kitchen Installer, call them what you like, but suddenly this one tradesperson becomes the single most important person in your installation team. Everything works around them.
You might need a new CAD system too. Most KBB-specialist CAD companies offer both kitchen and bathroom design in their portfolio, but almost none do them equally as well. Make sure that your CAD system has the catalogue of your new kitchen range(s), as this reduces mistakes and saves a lot of time.
So next, let’s talk about the similarities of running a successful bathrooms and kitchens business.
There are a huge number of skills and attributes present within your existing Sales-Design team that dovetail perfectly with kitchens: everything from measuring up, interior-design ethic, room visualisation, interpersonal skills, getting a brief, presentation skills, and understanding of plumbing, extraction, wall/floor construction and tiling.
In addition, there are many transferable skills amongst your management, admin, warehouse/deliveries team too; as it’s still a case of ordering the right stuff, getting it to site on time, engaging good tradespeople, project management and on-site problem solving.
If your customers are buying new bathrooms, there’s a good chance that they are also buying new kitchens too! They will have a property to renovate, some spare money to do so, an interest in home-improvement, and will want to deal with you as they trust the company. In fact the whole process of a customer’s bathroom journey with your company, will be very similar to that of their kitchen journey too. The whole speed and approach is very familiar ground.
So there you have a few things to look out for when considering moving into kitchens from a bathrooms business. I wish you luck, and I’m always willing to offer more help and advice in both the decision-making, and the transitioning into this new arm of your business.
To contact Toby and find out more about kbbsupport.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org.To contact Toby and find out more about kbbsupport.com, email email@example.com.