March 2021

Q: What about kitchen design? Bill: Kitchen design is an extremely important part of the process. Design is usually done using a specialist CAD system and staff training is crucial to understand the basics of kitchen design. It may seem a little scary at first, but many retailers really enjoy the challenge and the chance to be creative. Usually within a few weeks it’s possible to train a complete novice to a reasonable standard, enough to sell their first kitchens. Ideally you would need a dedicated kitchen

design person. The whole sale can be a time- consuming process, so someone with enough time and the right knowledge and skillset is important to close the sale.

Lyn: I love the design side! I never thought I would, not being computer savvy, but the first time I presented a design to a customer, it was brilliant. I had achieved something! All the knowledge of room layouts comes into play from selling appliances. You really have more of a connection with the

customer; when they’re spending this kind of money and looking for this much guidance you build up a relationship, you visit their house, you get to know them. And when they’re pleased with the outcome it’s fantastic.

Q: Did you employ someone in a design role or take it on yourself? Lyn: I need to know how to do everything in my business; I’m hands on and it was important for me to understand everything. I did all the training. It was tricky but it was very rewarding. I have now taken on a young member of staff, I’m training her up to slowly take over.

Matt: It was quite a debate for us. There was a desire to train from within, but the flip side was to hit the ground running and start selling kitchens from the off. So we opted to employ someone who was trained up and had history of designing and selling kitchens. We thought ‘if we’re going to make sales in the first year, we need to impress clients’.

15 Some of the kitchen displays at Abbey Appliances in Evesham

Q: What about kitchen installation? Bill: Most kitchen retailers use sub-contract installers. You may already know someone. Normally the kitchen is sold to a customer on a supply only basis and they then separately agree a fitting price with the installer who they pay direct. This means that if there are any fitting problems you have still been paid for the kitchen. But beware, if you recommend an installer you still have some responsibility for their work, even if the customer is not paying you directly, so it pays to work with the very best fitters. After all, a satisfied customer will get you more recommendations in the future.

One of the kitchen displays at Herbert Todd & Son in York

Q: What are some common hurdles retailers face? Bill: In my experience one big issue is the expectation of how quickly business will take off.

It does takes time. For most electrical retailers, the customer base is already there, but it’s getting into the heads of those people and telling them you now have kitchens available. You could be working on someone’s kitchen

for a long time, and therefore the level of sales that a retailer might be hoping for could take a couple of years.

Q: So how much will retailers need to invest in a move like this? Bill: Kitchen displays are usually heavily discounted by the supplier, along with the sinks, taps and accessories etc. CAD software can either be purchased or rented, and normally costs a few hundred pounds per month. You would probably need an initial investment of around £10,000 to put together a reasonable kitchen display area, obviously this would increase the larger the area.

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