Up and Away

Up and Away

A client's desire for added convenience can translate into great 'upselling' opportunities for kitchen and bath dealers.

By John Filippelli

For consumers, the little extras build in both a sense of luxury and lots of added convenience. For kitchen and bath dealer s
or designers, these extra amenities can be a great way to boost profits. This is particularly true because many of these upgrades are emotionally driven purchases, so price is less of a factor than it might be with other products.

But to successfully upgrade a sale with add-ons, designers must focus on convenience.

These are the sentiments of Jennifer Williams, sales/design for Greer, SC-based Palmetto Kitchen and Bath, who notes, "As far as accessories, add-on sales go back to convenience. Selecting cutlery dividers, full-extension glides and different things like that will add convenience to any client's project."

Corinne Danicki, kitchen designer for Ft. Worth, TX-based The Kitchen Source, adds: "We are seeing a zone, or beverage center, in the kitchen where you can build in a coffee machine that brews individual cups. Below that, they will put in a cup-warming drawer to keep saucers and cups warm."

She continues: "It's a great entertainment feature because friends or guests could make their own coffee. We're also seeing more icemakers being installed because clients are trying to incorporate the main kitchen with the outdoor kitchen or the pool area for added convenience."

Monica Lugo, sales/design consultant for East Dundee, IL-based Jim Keller Kitchen & Bath, points out that adding on amenities can also upgrade designers' bottom lines a prospect that is worth investigating, she notes.

"The margins are definitely better with add-on sales. The clients are selecting products with their hearts and they don't care how much it will cost," she offers.

Danicki adds: "Almost everyone I deal with gives me a budget, and I am almost always above that budget. In the end they have to have that custom item because it offers the convenience or the look that they want."

"People look at their kitchen as something that is unique, different from everyone else. They'll [upgrade] because they want it to be special," Lugo concludes.

Kitchen collection
According to Julia Sandetskaya, owner of MusaDesign based in Bellevue, WA, a primary reason for upgrading kitchens is improving space., which lends itself to all kinds of upgrades. "We're adding a lot of hidden storage and coming up with ways to hide storage in the walls. We then cover the storage with transparent doors," she says.

As a result, items, such as cutlery dividers, pots and pans drawers and unique hardware, are finding their way into more kitchens, Williams notes.

"We're seeing storage in the island for cookbooks," she notes, "and a lot of people are upgrading to the full-extension and self-closing glides for drawers."

Lugo continues: "It's mostly upgrades to the cabinets, such as specialized pots and pans organizers or a waste basket that you can open with a foot pedal. We're also seeing hardware for hanging [items], such as stainless steel baskets, along the backsplash."

Lugo also cites large spray faucets and pot fillers installed over the countertop as popular add-on items, as well.
Williams also sees consumers upgrading their kitchens with "extra sinks in the island, especially in small kitchens."

"Second sinks are definitely the most popular upgrades," agrees Danicki.

Sandetskaya does not see this trend as often, however, noting: "It's not usually a second sink, but a larger sink with a double compartment [that clients want]."

"What's also hot is the visual look or finish on the cabinet," Danicki adds. "To me, that is an upgrade. The most popular are the heavily distressed or matte finishes. Clients want it to look aged or like a salvaged antique piece. This is very labor-intensive, and that is why it's an upgrade and costs more."

"We're also adding windows and accenting them, and bringing extra light into the space with skylights," Sandetskaya adds. "It is all about improving the space with finishes, lighting or materials."

Bath budget
Danicki notes that there are several good product options for upselling bath jobs.

"There is a warming drawer that can be installed to warm towels, for instance. I think the towel hooks that are warmed are a great idea, as well," she offers.

"We are also seeing tile-heating floors that are on a timer base," Danicki adds.

"We aim for double towel bars for our clients in the bath, and also double-flush toilets," says Sandetskaya. "Towel warmers are also very popular, especially in Seattle, but there aren't many options for smaller spaces with them because they're very bulky and take up a lot of space."

Sandetskaya further notes that the shower is another great place for upselling bath projects, since these can be outfitted "with every conceivable body spray."

Danicki agrees: "The shower is becoming the massage and steamshower center. A lot of people are asking for six to eight showerheads or massage heads, as well as shower seats and baskets for soaps."

Selling techniques
With the add-on possibilities now seemingly endless, what's the best way for kitchen and bath dealers and designers to upsell their clients?

According to those interviewed, an integral part of the process is offering clients a first-hand view of products.

Lugo explains: "My technique is to show them that our showroom has the things that they are seeking. I will even talk about other jobs that I've done and relate their requests to other people's projects."

"We take before-and-after shots of remodel projects to show potential customers, and then we put those shots on our Web site," says Danicki.

Williams interjects: "We always try to showcase different options as to what is available."

To that end, Danicki will often take that approach one step further. "I usually rent a car and spend the entire day visiting different appliance dealers to compare prices with the client. We will also visit granite yards and warehouses so that they can see slabs of granite and select a tile," she offers.

She continues: "It works well because it allows us to communicate in the car and cover a lot of leg work."

Sandetskaya also believes that researching a product is extremely valuable, as it educates both clients and dealers and designers. "We do a lot of research, [because] you cannot sell [more expensive] products than the client can afford. Usually, you can't find good pricing locally, so we find most of our deals out of state. Ultimately, all of your profit will come out of being creative and finding the most practical deals," Sandetskaya says.

"We also use suppliers we trust and that is how you can make money," she adds. KBDN