Are You Maximizing Your Resources?

It’s Monday morning, and my desk is buried in papers, memos and “to do” lists scribbled on little Post-it notes. At home, I have separate lists – things to do, buy, fix, mail – and I’ve learned how to watch TV (on mute) while simultaneously answering e-mails, talking on the phone and petting the two dogs.

Last night at the baseball game, I answered more e-mails from my phone while waiting on the concession line, and then did a quick interview with a West Coast designer during the seventh-inning stretch. He, too, was on the go, talking to me from his car phone on the way to a networking event.

Welcome to the world of “doing more with less.”

We’re all doing it. And it’s not just time we’re short on. We’re short on money, resources, staff.

And because jobs are harder to come by, and competition for those existing projects remains fierce, it’s not even enough anymore to do more with less. Rather, we need to do more with less while doing it better.

We’ve all heard the cliche about working smarter, not harder. And while usually we end up having to work both smarter and harder, there’s no question that in tough times like these, it’s critical to figure out how to minimize waste.

One way to do that is to figure out how to remove the distractions and clutter that keep us from being as efficient as possible, so that we can still maintain or exceed the quality levels we achieved back when we had more time, and more money, and more resources. That’s the challenge of today’s economy.

Sometimes that means streamlining not just our operations, but our environment…whether that means clearing the clutter from our e-mail box or clearing the clutter from our showroom. As an added bonus, creating a clutter-free environment can make showrooms more appealing to Generation Y, a demographic that favors clean and open spaces, whether they’re living or shopping environments (see related story, Page 22).

And consumers are facing the same challenges. Many are going into projects not only with less disposable income, but, equally challenging, with less square footage. Expanding the footprint of a kitchen or bath isn’t always an option anymore.

Yet people still want well-appointed kitchens with copious storage and high-tech appliances, along with plenty of space to cook, entertain and relax with family. They want restful, luxury bath havens to help them de-stress and escape from the demands of their busy lives. And they still want great-looking, highly functional products, a stress-free remodeling process and real value for their investment.

Meeting these needs often means another “more”…more creativity on the part of the designer.

So how do you do more with less, and help your clients do more with less?

It may mean getting back to basics, as designer Roger Shollmier talks about in this month’s Industry Profile (see story, Page 29), where he shows why a “function first” approach to design makes both dollars and sense.

It may mean rethinking kitchen and bath spaces to incorporate greater efficiencies into smaller spaces – as evidenced by KBDN’s portfolio of space-efficient kitchen and bath projects that maximize creativity and function while minimizing square footage (see related story, Page 46).

Smart partnerships can be another way to do more with less. In this month’s special “Partnering for Success” supplement, co-produced by Kitchen & Bath Design News and the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association, you’ll find ideas for how kitchen and bath designers and decorative plumbing and hardware professionals can work together to maximize their collective skills and knowledge (see special supplement, between Pages 10-11).

Despite some hopeful signs on the horizon, we’re all still facing challenges that will likely require us to do business differently for the foreseeable future. Maximizing our multi-tasking skills, taking advantage of the resources available to us and focusing on the basics provide a good strategy, not just for today, but for the future.