Kitchen & Bath Design News recently posed the following questions to dealers and designers in the kitchen and bath industry: Will your firm be looking to hire any additional design or sales support in the near future? Why or why not? Following are some of their responses:
"We are in the process of regrouping and rebranding, so I would say no at this point. We've decided to clean up all areas that have let dollars out the door and, as such, we actually have hired a business coach instead of a new designer. This will help us address our marketing, hiring, how to better help our customers buy from us...everything. His role is to ask us the right questions and keep us on track. He is also available to us any time we have a question. We will also have a monthly sit-down meeting with him. The important thing is that he is not a kitchen-and-bath-specific coach. I think it is important to get perspective from the outside. The main idea is to help us better analyze how we are going about making decisions.
Over the years we have intermittently touched base with these sorts of people, but never really got into using them as an integral part of the company to help us turn things around. Part of the process includes filling out 20 pages of questions that are designed to get us thinking about the heart of things and what our business ambitions are. I would hope that with his help we can better define how we work together, where we want to be and, of course, hopefully generate enough business so that we can hire more staff in the future."
Kathy C. Simoneaux, CAPS
Acadian House Kitchen & Bath Studio
Baton Rouge, LA
"We just hired an outside salesperson four months ago, so we will not be hiring anyone new. The main reason I decided to do that was to try to stimulate our business. Although the phone is ringing more and I believe there is more consumer interest, the hire was really designed to attract new business. Right now, we have two kitchen designers and two bathroom designers – and now the outside salesperson. We now have enough staff to handle any significant increase in business that may come in 2011, so there really won't be a reason to hire any new staff for the foreseeable future. Also, this move has paid dividends already because I just closed a sale last week and I will hopefully have another close this month."
Rick Miller, president/owner
Miller's Fancy Bath & Kitchen
"We are actually in a search right now for additional design support. We have found a consistent level of leads coming in for about six months, and we are feeling pretty comfortable about that and we believe it will probably continue enough to carry a new designer on staff. This is very big for us because we had been operating for the past two years with a pared down staff in order to keep expenses down. It was logical that once we headed on a steady upswing that we would need someone. We're pretty excited about it and, in fact, we may even consider bringing a second person back on in 2011. The only difficulty would be determining what the role of the second person might be if we get to that point. This is such a difference from last year when we all had to go into the new year cautiously."
Gail Olsen, CKD, co-owner
"I don't think we will be hiring right now because we are still experiencing effects from the downturn in the economy – although things are definitely better than they were a year ago. My impression is that although business has been steady recently, it isn't coming back as quickly as it went down. That said, we tried to become a little more efficient and pared down just a little bit. Unless things change drastically, I don't see us adding another person just yet – although we are hoping that, by spring, we will need more salespeople."
Terry Braaten, v.p./sales and design
"We aren't looking to hire anyone right now because of the economy. Things have definitely improved over last year, although we have a long way to go before actually hiring a new person. In fact, I'm not so busy that I couldn't take on new jobs and still keep up with the help that I have. My expectation is that it will remain this way into the beginning of 2011. The other thing is, since we are fully staffed right now, I would have to find a new location for additional people, as well. Basically, if the volume warranted hiring another person, I would certainly do that."
Michelle Diebolt, manager
Kitchens & More
La Harpe, KS
"I am hoping that will be the case in the future, but as of right now, I would say no. The main reason is that we are just coming back from the downturn in the economy. We have just gotten done making cuts in the last couple of years by cutting hours. So we are trying to regroup. My expectation is that, in 2011, we will be in the market to hire a new sales or design support person, as long as the work warrants it. So, we have more of a skeleton crew than what we've had in the past, all in the hope of becoming more efficient in our day-to-day operations. So there is a part-time office manager here whose hours were cut, as well as a full-time designer, plus myself. Overall, I feel like our company is pretty representative of what is happening across the country, but I am certainly encouraged for our prospects in the future."
Pamela Polvere, CKD
Pamela Polvere Designs
Elmwood Park, IL