Focus on Four 'P's for Success, Kitchen and Bath Retailers Advised

Focus on Four 'P's for Success, Kitchen and Bath Retailers Advised

Harley-Davidson was bankrupt in 1985. Today, it's the world's most successful motorcycle manufacturer. How did the company go about accomplishing this amazing transformation? It focused on the four "P"s: Product, Promotion, Price and Place.

Kitchen and bath retailers would do well heed the same ideas, business management consultants say.

To begin, start by asking yourself, for example, what is the product you sell?

While this may sound like an easy question to answer, all too often, kitchen and bath specialists give the wrong answer.

The evidence for that claim? Open your local Yellow Pages and look under "Kitchens."

Ignore your own ad for a moment and examine the others. What do the ads say? If they're like most ads, they say the same tired phrases. Things like "designer kitchens" or "custom kitchens." They may list the products that go into a kitchen: cabinets, countertops, faucets, sinks, etc. They may note "family business," or "factory direct," or "free design," or any of a number of tired cliches.

Now, contrast that with, say, an automobile ad. Those ads don't list the parts in, say, a Mazda. They don't point out that the dealers are authorized to sell cars, or that they won't charge you when you come in and buy one.

Instead, they focus on what it's like to drive a Miata: In this case, "Zoom, Zoom, Zoom."

Your product what you are really selling is not the kitchen itself, but the feeling that homeowners have when they sit in their new kitchen, or when they entertain friends and family there.

Do you promote that? If not, then you're missing out on a your best opportunity.

All business starts with a promotion, succeeds by coming up with new promotions, and fails by failing to promote effectively. And yet, time and again, kitchen and bath retail firms fail to effectively promote in any number of ways. Three common mistakes that kitchen and bath design firms make include:

  • Installation crews wear t-shirts and jeans not coveralls with the company logo, and they drive to the job site in anonymous pickup trucks instead of a van with the logo and contact information on the side.
  • Designers fail to have jobs photographed, and fail to try to get them published in shelter and trade magazines. Entering design contests is also good for additional exposure.
  • Kitchen and bath retailers say they rely on referrals, not advertising. However, they do nothing to promote referrals. They don't give existing customers finder's fees, or send them email or direct-mail reminders.

Price is a very tricky thing. The determination of price relies heavily on the concept of cost versus value. A customer who receives a higher value does not begrudge a higher price.

To use the Harley-Davidson example again, that manufacturer did not cut prices when it was bankrupt. Instead, it insisted on its prices and even raised thembut began to emphasize value, image and feeling. Harley buyers were made to feel that there was some significant extra value in being a Harley owner.

Do your customers feel there is some extra value in being the owner of a kitchen designed and installed by you? Do they know how much more valuable their home is with your kitchen or bathroom in it?

The final issue "Place" refers not only to your showroom, but the media in which your ads are seen. (If there are no ads, you're nowhere.) Do you want to sell "carriage trade"-type jobs? Your ads will have to go in high-end venues: symphony and museum programs, high-end lifestyle magazines and similar mediums and they'll have to look like they belong there. Your showroom will have to have some cachet and a strong "wow" factor.

Do you want to sell lower-priced kitchens and push for volume? You'll want to advertise in programs at sporting events, local newspapers and AM radio. Your showroom will have to be more casual and have signs that stress discounts and sales prices.
If you stay focused on the four "P"s, you, too, can have Harley-like success in the kitchen and bath market.