Don’t Leave Profits on the Table

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Even with remodeling price points perpetually rising, and the high-end market still vibrant, kitchen and bath specialists are apparently leaving significant money on the table when it comes to the kitchen projects they design and sell.

It’s money that can just as easily enhance a company’s bottom line as remain in the pocketbooks and savings accounts of homeowners. And it’s money that’s out there to be had if kitchen/bath designers understand how today’s consumers think – and then remember to skillfully leverage their knowledge and sales skills.

The issue of leaving potential money on the table is being brought to light as the result of an insightful new study which reveals that American consumers may be willing to spend far more money on their kitchen remodeling projects than either they or their kitchen design professional may budget for or suspect – but they need to be educated about the benefits of upgrading their project for maximum satisfaction (see realted story Consumer Buying Trends).

The study, involving some 10,000 consumers who recently remodeled their kitchen, found that more than three in 10 surveyed consumers said they would spend more money if they could do their kitchen remodeling project over again. Conversely, only 7% said they would spend less.

When surveyed consumers were asked what they would do differently if they could do their project over again, they typically responded that they’d take more time to plan and budget more money for the project. This, according to researchers, is likely the result of realizing, in hindsight, that incorporating products and ideas they really wanted – but weren’t necessarily aware of – would have added relatively little to the project’s overall price tag, but would have added greatly to the consumer’s overall satisfaction.

These are startling findings, considering the fact that roughly $80 billion is already spent on kitchen and bath remodeling each year. They’re also findings that, if true, potentially represent billions of dollars in additional sales for manufacturers and retailers – simply if homeowners could be convinced about the long-term benefits they’d derive by spending a few more dollars.

The survey – conducted by the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI), an organization of firms whose revenues come from sales related to the kitchen – also sheds some interesting light on the consumer thought process when it comes to do-it-yourself versus professionally designed projects.

In fact, the survey reveals that while close to two thirds of kitchen consumers hired professional help of some type on their kitchen remodel, a third of those who did all or some of the work themselves said they’d use outside assistance for at least some of the work if they ever undertake another project in the future.

Clearly, the RICKI study has important implications for kitchen/bath design professionals and the manufacturers whose product lines they carry.
For one thing, the study suggests the need to more effectively educate, and more skillfully sell, the myriad benefits of kitchen remodeling, the need for professional assistance and the return on investment – in terms of lasting satisfaction – that can be attained by upgrading. It also suggests the need for design professionals to pursue the wealth of additional home-related opportunities available today – areas like closets, wine cellars, outdoor living areas, outpost kitchens, home offices, garages, laundry and mud rooms, hobby centers, media centers, libraries, and specialty storage.

There’s money to be had by going the extra mile with consumers who are apparently willing to stretch their budget if they clearly understand everything they’re getting in return. It’s up to design professionals to educate their clients about those benefits – and reap
the rewards.