Until last month, I hadn't spoken with anyone at the National Kitchen & Bath Association in a long time probably at least three years. That's when I was asked to resign. Not that I did anything wrong. But after speaking at more than six conventions on ways to find more customers and increase sales of kitchens and baths, I was told that the only way they could pay me more than an honorarium was to resign as a member. I am not making this up. It was a rule. I had to quit to get paid.
So, after years of looking forward to regular information from the NKBA and learning about what was going on in the world of CBD/CKDs, I had to rescind my membership in order to be paid my (less than exorbitant) fee to speak at the larger chapters, and do some of the break-out sessions at the conventions.
Then, with all of the personnel changes that ensued, I lost track of what was going on in the NKBA world.
But information is vital if you want to keep up with current events. So, not being one to stand still, I decided to give the NKBA a call a few weeks ago to see if anything had changed. I wanted to know what was new with the NKBA, and had decided I would write about it here.
What I found when I called was that just about everyone I had dealt with in the past was gone. After going through a maze of voicemails, I hit 0 and asked to talk with the public relations department. I was transferred, and I got voicemail. I left a message. No one called back. I called three more times and still got no response.
I called my editor at K&BDN and asked who might return my call. She suggested that I call Lili Corman, director of professional programs. So I called Lili, got voicemail and left a message. To my surprise, not only did she call me back, she gave me her home and cell phone numbers in case I had any specific questions to ask while she was on vacation. I couldn't believe it.
Maybe things really had changed at the NKBA.
I made an appointment to meet with her, and she also arranged a meeting with Sherylin Doyle, AKBD, and Bill Schankel, marketing director. And I'm really glad I went. Maybe some of the departments of NKBA are still getting up to speed, but these people really know what they are doing. They showed me things that 10 years ago were only in the talking stages. The NKBA's report is as forward-looking and professional as any association's in the country, and the NKBA Profiles magazine rivals any association publication out there today.
But, what really stands out is the CKD/CBD certification programs and the courses offered by the NKBA University. They are terrific. There are also NKBA-endorsed educational programs at various colleges.
While other associations are trying to achieve some kind of accreditation program, not only is NKBA already there, but it has been there for some time. And it keeps getting better.
Now this certification is something you can really use to create more business. It can be a great marketing tool.
If your sales and design staff have CBD and CKD certification, you should absolutely flaunt it.Consumer Reports says to look for a CKD or CBD when planning your next kitchen or bath. In August 2002, Consumer Reports stated: "We recommend that you begin a major remodeling job by consulting a kitchen planner or designer certified by the National Kitchen & Bath Association."
CBD and CKD certifications have really come into their own. Clients know about them. If your people are CBDs and CKDs, put it on everything you send out, and on your employees' business cards. It results in major recognition. It's like the MBA of kitchen and bath design.
Make it a part of your promotions and advertising and marketing campaigns. Tell your customers. Let them know that you are a cut above the designers and contractors who are not accredited.
One of the programs I had done for the NKBA in the past was "How To Find Customers Your Competition Doesn't Know Exist." Maybe we'll do it again in Las Vegas next year. The bottom line is that personal promotion is important.
Getting people to like you helps tremendously in winning jobs. Letting them know you really understand kitchen and bath design and have their best interest in mind is crucial. Likewise, convincing them you are one of the best is essential.
Showing your customers your background of education to get certification could help you accomplish that. Let them know you can't just pay a few bucks and get a piece of paper that says you're a CBD or CKD. You have to study. You are trained and tested. You are a professional with the best industry certification there is.
I think the NKBA has come a long way in the last few years. And, paraphrasing Groucho Marx, who said, "I am reluctant to join a club that would have me as a member," the NKBA is letting me back in. I have already rejoined. I am happy to be a member of the NKBA, even though it still has me listed in its book of speakers and programs for NKBA chapters. I'm looking forward to getting the magazine, the monthly updates and the information on what's going on in the professional world of kitchen and bath design.
I will also do my part. I will help out the NKBA's public relations department at no charge. I will get back to anyone who calls me.
There's great potential for anyone getting involved with kitchens and baths today. And I believe that membership in NKBA can truly be an asset to your firm.And don't forget those accreditations. They can be an invaluable marketing tool for you!