Designers Form Web Site to Field Kitchen Questions
By Barbara Capella Loehr
Additionally, they wanted to create an educational forum through which they could guide as many individuals as possible through the remodeling process, answering the common and not-so-common questions that remodeling typically drags to the surface.
To that end, Sussek and Zager formed Ask the Kitchen Designers,
LLC, based here, and launched their advice-based Web site,
askthekitchendesigners.com, in 2001.
"Kitchen design is what we know," comments Sussek, who has 10 years of design experience to Zager's 14 years. Both currently work as designers at large home centers in addition to working on the Web site.
"In dealing with consumers on a daily basis, we have found that
many people feel lost when they come into [a showroom]. Our mission
in starting Ask The Kitchen Designers was to create a site that
they could visit in the privacy of their own home and compile
enough information to help them shop," says Sussek.
With that in mind, Sussek and Zager worked together to get their Web site up and running. They collaborated to write the detailed information that would appear on the site, and worked with a Web designer to tweak it. And, while they still work with their Web designer, the site is set up so that Sussek and Zager can update it themselves.
Currently, the site is updated on a monthly basis, with information that ranges from products and price to budget and installation tips and design and color trends.
"Our motivation is not based on a specific product or service we are selling," explains Sussek.
Indeed, most of the information Zager and Sussek provide via the Web site is free-of-charge. If someone needs some input or suggestions on a design layout, that person can e-mail it to Zager and Sussek.
"We will look it over and give some feedback on it. We will answer all e-mailed questions the best we can. If we don't know the answer off-hand, we will do some Internet research, and at least send them the link to the information they requested. Many times the answer is already on our site, so we just send them the link to that page. We keep the lines of communication open for them to always feel free to write us again if need be," states Sussek.
"Our main focus is answering questions from visitors. Most of our visitors e-mail us with questions about everything from what appliance color to pick to what color schemes to use. I communicated with a woman on the East Coast who was building her retirement home in Sedona, AZ," continues Sussek. "She had questions about what color cabinets to choose, her countertop choices and her appliance colors. She would tell me what she was considering, and I would go to my 'day job' and look at the samples, and then give her my recommendations She was moving in December , and I am looking forward to seeing the photos of the finished home."
Through the Web site, Sussek and Zager have been able to help a
variety of people. "Last year I communicated with a student from
the island of Mauritius, which is near the larger island of
Madagascar. He was working on his grandfather's kitchen for his
school project and had lots of questions. That was interesting,"
In addition to the free advice and information Sussek and Zager provide, they also offer their professional kitchen design services via the Web site.
"The only service we charge for is a design layout. If a [site] visitor is interested in working with us to design their kitchen, we go through a complete consultation via e-mail, get a copy of their plan and then give them a firm quote on the project," explains Sussek. "But, we are not really advertising our design services; they're listed along with our free services so if someone needs it, they have that option. People can e-mail us their requests, and we will give them a quote for our services." They must first submit room dimensions and complete a design questionnaire provided by Sussek and Zager.
"Lately, I have had three clients looking for this service,"
notes Sussek. "At the moment I am communicating with two
prospective clients who are interested in our design services. One
is from Ohio and one is from New York. I have [also] recently
completed a design for a local couple that I will be meeting with
soon to deliver their design," Sussek notes.
Into the Future
Looking ahead, Sussek and Zager are optimistic about their Web site's growth because they feel
they are serving a need.
In fact, the duo is attempting to launch a new directory to assist site visitors in finding places where they can shop. Visitors could then click on the city in which they live and locate retailers and professionals in their area who can personally assist in their kitchen remodels.