Kitchen & Bath Dealer Checklist Features Ideas for '03 Business Planning

Kitchen & Bath Dealer Checklist Features Ideas for '03 Business Planning

What follows is a checklist of 50 things you can do to have a better year in 2003:

1. Have a written mission statement for your business. Make it as specific as you can. Make sure all your employees know it.

2. Have written personnel policies. Make sure all employees have a copy so they know what is expected of them.

3. Make sure each employee has a written job description. Have them write it themselves, and check them over.

4. Put your company's sick day, vacation and personal time policy in writing. Stick to it.

5. Make sure you exercise and find ways to relieve stress. Monitor your employees for signs of burnout.

6. Learn a new skill that has nothing to do with your business. Keep your mind sharp by letting it grow.

7. Sponsor something in your community. A little league team, a bowling tournament, an exhibit in an art museum, or a chair at your local symphony. Influential people do, and they patronize others who do the same.

8. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and attend its events. You can make valuable business contacts.

9. Join the Better Business Bureau. You can tell potential customers that yours is a reputable company.

10. Become active with your local "Habitat for Humanity" group and lend your expertise. Besides improving your neighborhood, you will be interacting with volunteers at a time when they will be thinking about the concept of "home."

11. Review your company literature. Make sure it is up-to-date and informative. Has your area code changed? If you use a brochure from a supplier, make sure your name, address and telephone number are on it somewhere, too, if only by rubber stamp or sticker.

12. Make sure your showroom is up-to-date and clean. Don't leave piles of dusty suppliers' literature lying around. Make sure suppliers' samples are up to date.

13. Accessorize your showroom with the unexpected. Fill a glass canister with shiny chrome bolts. Put antique gadgets in your display's appliance garage.

14. Get a professional logo. Contact a local commercial artist or graphic designer. Put your logo on your business wherever you can, on signs, letterhead, business cards, etc.

15. Get professional-looking coveralls and caps for your installers. Give them photo identification and name tags so that homeowners know who they are and where they are from. Make sure the company vehicles they travel in are clean, well marked and well cared for.

16. Review your insurance policies and get new estimates. Ask other companies to make bids for the same coverage.

17. Institute a weekly lunch for you and your staff where problems and work can be discussed.

18. Make sure you back up your business data every week. Store the back-up data off-site.

19. Sit down with your accountant and draw up a detailed business plan for the next year. Stick to it as much as you can.

20. Sit down with your lawyer and be sure a succession plan is in place for your business if something should happen to you.

21. Review your employees' health plan and be sure you are getting the best price.

22. Send your employees for off-site training. Besides giving them valuable information, it increases their sense of self-worth.

23. Make sure your showroom's signs are informative and clear. Make sure they are not dog-eared or yellowed with age.

24. Consider a second business. Give prospects a reason to come into your store. Stock greeting cards or soaps, housewares or novelty items.

25. Get away from your day-to-day routine and visit a supplier or one of your peers. Ask questions about how they do business and why they make some of the decisions they do.

26. Call your business from outside and ask for yourself. Find out exactly what your callers hear.

27. Make sure all of your company vehicles are tuned up and washed regularly. Keep a written record for each vehicle.

28. Put in a live display where the plumbing and appliances work.

29. Give out gifts to your satisfied clients to encourage referrals. Throw a wine and cheese party for your kitchen customers and attend with business cards and brochures to get referrals.

30. Hold cooking classes in your kitchen showroom. Invite present and former clients and prospects. Get a local restaurant to help, or contact a cookbook publishing company and see who is on a book tour in your area. Publicize it.

31. Hold aromatherapy or yoga classes in one of your bath displays. Invite present and former clients and prospects. Publicize it.

32. Put a home office display in your showroom and branch out into that business.

33. Trade out some cabinetry for equipment with your local office supply store, and share home office referrals.

34. Trade out cabinetry for some stereo equipment with your local A/V dealer and share home theatre referrals.

35. Trade out cabinetry for some pots, pans, tea towels and the like with your local housewares store, and share bathroom referrals.

36. Put a patio display in your showroom and branch out into that business.

37. Put a home bar display in your showroom, and branch out into that business.

38. Trade out cabinetry for some wine and liquor bottles with a local beverage merchant and share home bar referrals.

39. Serve coffee and bake cookies in your showroom all daythe smell alone will entice prospects.

40. Create an area of your showroom where kids can play while their parents discuss business

41. Track your showroom traffic. Make sure visitors write down names and addresses. Take note of which displays draw attention and which do not.

42. Review your Yellow Pages advertising. Is it up-to-date? Is it informative? How does it compare with competitors' ads?

43. Review ALL of your advertising. If you're not doing any, consider budgeting for some. Is your advertising fresh and distinctive? Does it appear in media favored by the customers you want? Make sure you have up-to-date customer demographics from the radio stations, newspapers, TV stations, magazines, etc., you use.

44. Start a newsletter for clients and prospects. Discuss new products and services, trends and new colors, product care tips, etc.

45. Take photos of your jobs with indoor film and a tripod. Send the photographs to shelter or trade magazines with a floor plan and a letter discussing the unique aspects of the job. Ask the editors when you submit to return the photos, and include a stamped self-addressed return envelope. If one rejects it, send it to another.

46. If your town has a Web site, make sure you are listed on it. If you have a Web site, be sure you have a link there.

47. Consider starting your own Web site, and update it occasionally. Ask your clients for permission to put photos of their jobs on your site (without their names or addresses, of course).

48. Look for ways to get free publicity. Make sure you get free publicity from the media with which you advertise.

49. Learn the name of your local paper's "Home" section editor. Be sure to cultivate a relationship with him or her. Become a resource for home storage and planning info.

50. Hold a contest. People love contests. Hold a "Guess the price of this kitchen" contest or a "best recipe" contest and host a cook-off for the finals in your kitchen showroom.