April 2006 Market Pulse

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“Currently, we are considering incorporating a flat-screen TV into our showroom. We have pictures of kitchens that we have done in the past, but we are looking to get nicer images and put them on CD. That way, we can install a large, flat-screen TV and people can scroll through projects that we’ve done. It will not only allow customers to see finished projects, but also projects that are in progress. I came up with the idea last year at K/BIS, when one of our cabinet dealers had a thin-screen monitor up, and it got me thinking. There are a plethora of door styles available, and [showing them this way] gives the customer a broader overview of what we have to offer. It even provides more showroom space, in a way. We also just put in a server that enables our in-house designers to be linked to one another. For instance, we have a couple of designers who are in training, and the server allows the senior designers to oversee their work. They can pull up the work at their own workstations. So, it allows us to share files and, ultimately, makes us more efficient.”
Joe Kassen, general manager
Kitchens Unlimited
Memphis, TN

“We don’t really have anything like plasma-screen TVs, because it’s not that cost effective, and we are not quite that large. Learning how to operate the technology – especially for someone who is more design-oriented – can be a challenge. I think it makes things more complicated sometimes.”
Diane Feuillerat, designer
Selin Custom Kitchens
Rockford, IL

“We are converting all of the lighting systems that we use into low-voltage systems. That is a very big craving among customers. We also have some hoods that are remote controlled – we can turn them on and off, or turn the lights on and off. The other thing is that we have flat-screen TVs in the showroom showing the kitchens that we’ve done. This allows customers to get a sense of what we do – before we even qualify them. Most of the people who come in have seen our work before, but it allows them to see other kitchens that we’ve done, and maybe get some ideas. From a time management perspective, technology benefits us tremendously. It lets us showcase the scope of our work, and if it is not in the customers’ financial realm, then most of them walk out. But it saves us a tremendous amount of time with the people who do stick around, because we know they are looking to spend some money on the project.”
Alan Ostrowski, owner
Suburban Cabinet Corp.
Teaneck, NJ

“We have thought about installing an entertainment center display of cabinetry to put a television in. This would enable us to run photographs on a loop or even informational videos to show customers. We’ve even asked one of our cabinet lines if they would do a tour of their plant, so customers could see what goes on behind the scenes in cabinet production. I don’t think that the customers realize that the cabinets we sell are also custom-made by people. We have also thought about incorporating an inventory barcode system for the cabinets we receive. We order in large quantities – either containers or truckloads of cabinets for projects – and I think this would help us keep a more accurate count on our inventory. The other thing that has piqued my curiosity is the new laptops that have tablets, where you can work on a drawing, and make notes to the floorplan, right on the notebook. A lot of these ideas come from a combination of customer questions and us wanting to evolve.”
Jill McGlaughlin, president
Classic Kitchens, Inc.
Harrisonburg, VA

“At our company, we are very old school. The designers here have to bring in their own computers. We still do a lot of drawing by hand, although one of our designers uses 20-20. We are definitely lagging behind in this area. If we had technology in this showroom, it would be extremely helpful from a time-saving perspective.”
Stewart Fair, technical director
California Kitchens
Burbank, CA

“We are in the process of filming one or two of our kitchens on a DVD. That will be presented in the showroom on a screen, depending on how we move the showroom around. We plan on using that as a presentation tool. Initially, we are going to use our perspective drawings and floorplans that we draw by hand. I think people are more impressed by our hand-drawn work than the CAD systems that they are seeing elsewhere. There is more of a personal touch to those drawings, as opposed to something that’s put together haphazardly on a computer. You can always scan the hand drawings and put color into them, as well. I think it is going to help both the design process and the sales process, because changes can be made more easily during the presentation period – especially when clients see things on a bigger screen. It also helps the client to better understand aspects of the design.”
John F. Pietruszka, CKD
Anderson Kitchens
Staten Island, NY

“We are looking into building a stronger network, so we can prevent system crashes. A lot of our ordering systems are OPS, so when we have a down problem with the Internet, that can really slow down our ordering system. We want to get a better backup system and less computer failure. Most of our orders are online, so we are basically dealing with 20-20 for customer designs, and having to transfer them to the OPS system. We are also constantly re-evaluating the showroom, and what we show in there. Our goal is to get a better flow that is less restrictive to customers. We don’t want them to feel like they are in a restricted space. We also plan on incorporating plasma TVs, which will probably have a video loop of kitchens that we’ve done – almost like a running gallery. I have even seen people introducing fireplaces with the electronics. We want to incorporate that into a study area and show off more areas that we can utilize for cabinetry, other than just the kitchen and bath. [With technology] there will be less paper, and more confirmation and acknowledgements by way of e-mail. Invest your money in a good battery backup and higher-speed modems, and you will have a smoother transition from concept to the ordering process.”
Andrew Don, designer
Trimline Design Center
Miami, FL

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