Sharpen Business Procedures, SEN Members Advised

Sharpen Business Procedures, SEN Members Advised

Cincinnati Kitchen and bath dealers "are going to have to become more sophisticated" in several key areas if they are going to survive and thrive in the future.

That's the message that was delivered by Hank Darlington to members of the SEN Buying Group at the group's recent fall meeting here. Darlington, a well-known consultant and Kitchen & Bath Design News columnist, presented the keynote address at the buying group's bi-annual gathering.

Darlington, the former owner of the Sacramento, CA-based decorative plumbing and hardware showroom, The Plumbery, told SEN members that kitchen and bath dealers "need to reinvent themselves and get rolling on the River of Progress and Profit, or drift up the Creek of Extinction."

Dealers, Darlington said, need to thoroughly school themselves in much-needed techniques for business management, and "become a complete manager."

This process, Darlington noted, "won't happen all at once, but dealers should begin it by setting priorities and realistic time frames" for achieving certain key goals.

Darlington recommended that all dealers develop a three-to-five-year business plan, do an annual budget, and generate monthly profit-and-loss statements and a monthly balance sheet. He also advised SEN members to carefully project cash flow requirements, develop a written Policy and Procedures Manual, write job descriptions and conduct regular job performance evaluations.

Goals for dealers should include the growth of gross profits to more than 40%, and the reduction of expenses to 30% of revenue, or less.

Among Darlington's other suggestions were that dealers:

  • Set firm goals for salespeople, and tie incentives in to those goals.
  • Develop a formal training program.
  • Become a "one-stop shopping source" for customers.
  • Be creative marketers, "but make your brand you."
  • Learn the art of time management, and learn to delegate.