September 2004 Pro to Pro

Have a question, and looking for feedback from industry peers? This month, K&BDN listens in on dialogue between industry professionals, as excerpted from the KitchenBathPros.com' online Designer Discussion Forum.


Question:
I am having an issue with a corner sink. I have a very limited amount of space to place a sink. My thought was to go with a corner unit. The problem I'm having is that the corner sinks that I find specify a 48" corner sink base. This is way too big, in my estimation.
Does anyone know of a sink configuration that requires less space? If I can't solve the problem, I'll have to go with an angle sink or a false front. This is something that I was hoping to avoid.

Response 1
The standard 25"x22" single bowl corner sink can fit in a 36" (diagonal) sink base, that is, 36" off of each corner. Do you want a double sink in the corner?

Response 2
If you can do a 36" angle corner cabinet, Franke has the Papillon, a nice bowl and a half with a curved back that can also fit.

Response 3
If your customer wants a double sink, I have found that they are easily convinced to move into a large single bowl (Elkay's 28"x22" for instance). What is the goal for the sink usage, cleaning large pans or using one side for a dish drainer?
Usually, those with a dishwasher want to be able to wash large pans and cutting boards without hindrance, which is actually defeated with a double bowl sink unless they go with gourmet sizing.
Also, be careful about the customer's expectations of "additional space" this will save, because it will make for a deep corner and move the footprint into the working floor space.

Response 4
Have you considered a custom sink? That might help you out. Search online, and you're sure to find what you need.
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How to Specify Cabinet Hardware

Question:
I just finished installing new maple cabinets in our kitchen. I thought picking the cabinets was the tough job, but the cabinet hardware is even tougher. I would like to install knobs on the cabinet doors and pulls on the draws. Is there a standard size for cabinet pulls? The one I like is three inches (hole-to-hole). Would these be too small for 24 and 30 inch drawers? The one I picked doesn't come in a four-inch version. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Response 1
Consider using two pulls on drawers that are 30" or wider. Install them off centered and it should work well for you. I hope this helps!

Response 2
I would say there is not a standard size for pulls. There are thousands and thousands of pulls out there, so it's better to have your hardware on hand first, pick it out, and then drill according to that particular hardware spec.

Ideas for Handling Career Burn Out

Question
Although I am grateful to be employed, I feel overworked and under- appreciated. I am so burnt out and exhausted. My plea for support staff at work is falling on deaf ears.

What used to be fulfilling and rewarding as a career choice is just wiping me out mentally. I am one of three designers working in a busy retail cabinet, plumbing and remodeling showroom. We have one part-time plumbing salesperson, receptionist, sales manager, foreman, two supervisors, and several crew members and sub trades. Roughly 95% of our cabinet sales include full installation services.

As a company, we have had tremendous success. We are a small company suffering growing pains.

Personally, I have tripled my sales from the previous year. However, my workload has become daunting. My day is full of multi-tasking responsibilities. I am a salesperson, designer and job estimator. Designers in our showroom bid the construction, so I do my own in-home measures, I am the draftsperson, accounts receivable and invoicing clerk, order processor, chief parts pick up person, liaison between client and contractor, and plumbing salesperson.

This is the most annoying part: Once the part-time plumbing person has left for the day, and the receptionist is gone (she leaves at 3:30 p.m.), I get the "pleasure" of having to sell plumbing faucets and hardware to customers while answering phones until 6 p.m. That means I have to work until 8 p.m. or later just to catch up on my work that I couldn't get done during business hours.

I have always been one to bring work home with me, but now I'm working on Sundays just to catch up. Lately, I've been thinking, what for? Am I crazy? The more jobs I sell, the harder it is for me to keep up. Now I am starting to kill leads, and bidding high to get rid of some others.

Is this crazy, or what?
I don't have a creative bone left in my body. All my enthusiasm has been sucked out of me. I no longer look forward to bidding new jobs; rather, I dread the increased workload. I have six kitchen and bath jobs on the construction board at the moment. I have three in the programming phases of design, and 11 jobs to bid.

I don't want to sound ungrateful, but the strain and long hours don't leave me much of a personal life. Is this all there is? Or am I just working for a sweathouse?

Response 1
You're not alone. This has been a great year for this business, but it's leaving us all feeling as you do.

The plumbers and electricians can't get any new help and they are looking for it. I would love to hire someone, but is this growth sustainable? I can't imagine that it is, so we are all working hard and hoping to just get through it.

Just tell people that you are very busy and let them know when you expect to get back to them. At least that way, your customers aren't getting upset and giving you a bad reputation. They will know that when it's their turn, you will give them the time they need. If they go elsewhere, they will probably get the same reply or worse service. At least they will know in the end that you dealt fairly with them, and in the future they may come back.
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Response 2
It sure sounds to me like you're doing the work of more than one person. What do you want? Does the venting here help enough, or do you want real change, i.e. your life back?

If you'd like your life back, then do this:
1. It sounds as if you do not have a job description. Put together a job description. Make a list of your job tasks you see as logical to the job description.
2. Determine what salary is suitable to the job description.
3. Consider the other work you're asked to do. Decide what has to give in order for you to do this work cabinet sales, follow ups, in-home measuring?
4. Combined with #3 above, consider what you want your hours to be. Eight-hour days? Nine? Ten?
In other words, you have to take a good look at what you're doing and evaluate what you want to do and what you don't want to do and for what hours. That's right it really is your call to decide how, and under what conditions, you want to work.
5. Before you present this organized proposal to your employer, evaluate your employment options elsewhere in case you rock the boat too much. I don't think you'd get fired, I think you'd get respect.
6. I'd recommend doing a frank but pleasant sit down with your employer. But it's critical how you come across. Don't give them all demands you must make it a team effort and give them options to choose from as to what they want you to do. It sounds like I'm saying two different things, but I'm not. You must be prepared to ask for one thing, but be prepared to negotiate elsewhere.
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Prior to this negotiating, think about what you are willing and not willing to do and for how much money and time. That's the critical part of any negotiation.

Don't forget, this business has incredible detail to it. To concentrate hard all day gets very tiring. Mistakes can be so costly. Minor mistakes can bring such pain in so many ways. It's a very hard job. I never understand why I don't hear complaints about this part of it. The details are killers.
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Also, get a hobby. I grow roses. It is such therapy to think of something other than business. Growing roses is all about beauty and fragrance. It's good therapy. Find something to give you balance in your life.

Response 3
I got old and crotchety and tell people to go away.
Seriously, you can tell people to go away, as long as you do it in a nice way. I learned a long time ago that you can't do it all, so if the project looks rather boring, I politely tell the people it could be up to three months before I could get to them, and perhaps they would be better off going to (name a competitor). This is especially rewarding when they look like a problem client.

Response 4
In addition to the items listed above for your meeting, you may want to review that list and have some ideas for streamlining your activities and responsibilities. Most times, there are areas or activities that could be updated or changed in some way to make them more cost effective or time efficient.
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Have your ideas jotted down. Don't approach your employer without a solution or action plan of some sort in place. Having this will make it easier for your employer to help ease the pain. Good luck!

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