Category 3 Most Innovative Kitchen or Bath Retail Marketing Effort

Category 3 Most Innovative Kitchen or Bath Retail Marketing Effort

First place: RSI Kitchen & Bath, St. Louis, MO

Consumer Education Used as Marketing Tool

The class provides attendees with information about the remodeling process and pitfalls to avoid. Held on Saturday mornings, the class offers information about the remodeling process minus the sales pitch. 

"Our biggest concern was that customers would think the class was a big sales pitch, and that's not what we wanted," comments Hagin. "We wanted it to be casual and funny and interactive and informative. We tell them the good, the bad and the ugly about what they're in for."

With a focus on no-pressure education, the class provides something of real value to potential customers, while working as a highly effective marketing tool for RSI. The reason for this is simple: The course brings potential retail customers to the showroom. The showroom itself offers a number of kitchen and bath displays that utilize different materials available for sale from RSI. All class participants get a discount coupon for attending, which helps to bring them back when they begin the remodeling process.

RSI breaks the course into 12 steps, all covered in about one-and-one-half hours. Included in its coverage are: what to expect during the project; creating a reasonable budget; safe and durable materials; cost-saving tips; finding a reputable contractor; selecting a reputable kitchen and bath designer, and current design and product trends.

Step one involves researching and selecting a contractor who can provide an outline of a logical workflow for the project. Steps two through five explain what is needed for an appointment with a designer. If the customer comes to RSI with a detailed layout of the proposed kitchen, the firm will provide a bid free of charge. If one of RSI's designers creates a custom layout, a $250 design fee is charged, which can be applied to the investment if materials are purchased from the company. After drafts, a final layout is provided to the customer.

Cabinet basics are taught in steps six through 10, including wood species, general construction, finishes and style options. The last two steps review countertop basics, including material options and durability.

The class has proven to be a great referral tool: Over the past six months, the firm notes that almost 50 percent of attendees have come to the class because a friend or a family member recommended it to them.

Additionally, RSI produces a newsletter to stay in touch with its customer base as another marketing tool.
Bittle notes that the marketing programs, including the class, were started from virtually nothing. "In the beginning, we had no official marketing budget, so we begged our vendors for free prizes, used photocopied handouts and stole RSI pens from our employees desks to use as give-aways," she says, laughing. However, the firm's marketing programs have come a long way since then and the firm has the customers to show for it. 

2nd place: REICO Kitchen & Bath, Springfield, VA

Promotion Focuses on Service and Selection

To set itself apart from the increasingly prevalent home centers, Springfield, VA-based REICO Kitchen & Bath created a unique marketing strategy designed to play to the firm's greatest strengths, and earning the company second-place honors for Category Three in K&BDN's 2001 Industry Leadership Awards.

According to the firm, its greatest strength is the overall design "experience" it offers customers a combination of exceptional service, a wide product selection and affordable prices.

Andy Armstrong, director of marketing, developed marketing communications that he believes convey the exceptional experience customers have at REICO. An umbrella media plan blankets REICO's entire service area, promoting the REICO brand as a whole. 

A Cabinet Give-Away Contest was also developed to inform consumers about how cabinets can be used for functional storage in rooms other than the kitchen. The contest serves the dual purpose of helping the company build a database of prospective customers, which makes everyone involved a winner, according to Armstrong.

3rd place: Dartmouth Building Supply, Dartmouth, MA

Community Presence Increases Sales for Firm

Being involved in the community can go a long way toward marketing a company successfully. Such is the case with Dartmouth Building Supply, the third-place winner for Category Three in K&BDN's 2001 Industry Leadership Awards competition.

Dartmouth Building Supply, based in Dartmouth, MA, has serviced its area for many years and prides itself on listening to its customers and offering services to help them better understand the market.

Among its offerings, Dartmouth Building Supply provides contractor training programs twice each year. It also holds shows for builder and contractors to better familiarize them with the products it sells. This also enables Dartmouth Building Supply to answer any questions associated with those products, according to the company.

Further reinforcing its activity with the community, Dartmouth Building Supply also works closely with the local technical school, acting as a mentor for students working toward entering the business world.