Category 4 Most Innovative Retail Business Management Strategy

Category 4 Most Innovative Retail Business Management Strategy

First place: Kitchens by Deane, Stamford, CT

CT-Based Business Gets a Remodeling Job

The updated business model consists of a core management team, also referred to as the "Deane Team." Team members include: Project Engineer Bryan Reiss CKD, Project Manager Lawrence Ciambriello, Field Supervisor Andre Gattyan, and Sales Director Kelly Stewart. 

With the new retail management system, every client order is checked and reviewed by the project engineer. The order is then relayed to project management for tracking of cabinet delivery dates, appliance orders, miscellaneous purchase orders and installer scheduling. When the job is completed, the field supervisor takes over, contacting both the designer and the client to schedule a punch list walk through.

Members of the Deane Team have other duties, as well. The sales director reviews sales techniques, sold jobs, lost jobs, new products, etc. The project engineer acts as a liaison between the cabinet manufacturers and the sales staff, processing information to be used by both parties, while at the same time checking on drafting schedules, requests for renderings, and the like. The project manager coordinates the processing of job completion orders, purchase orders, appliance deliveries, cabinet deliveries and installer scheduling, and reviews the status of upcoming and ongoing jobs. The field supervisor reviews field conditions and punch list information and assists in on-site tasks. In addition, the core team meets with all 12 designers in house on a monthly basis.

While many kitchen and bath dealers don't even have a single project manager, Kitchens by Deane has as many as three individuals who may know the status of a job at any given time vastly enhancing efficiency.

Kitchens by Deane has also diversified its vendors and suppliers, as well as its tradespeople, which insulates the company from economic shifts affecting certain suppliers. A turnkey construction process is also in place for small- to medium-sized jobs. "These strategies were designed to streamline the amount of time taken to complete a job, improve customer service to exceptional levels, and create more profitable jobs," the firm notes. The new management strategy has resulted in a decrease in errors made in the design, order and installation processes. In addition, the firm has decreased the days taken to close a job from 117 days to 89 days.

The firm believes that much of its success is based on the drive toward common goals, and the positive results even more remarkable considering the short period of time since the firm's internal "remodel"  have been a strong motivator for the staff. 

2nd place: Distinctive Kitchens, Concord, NH

Design Centers Find Success in the Spotlight

Sometimes, new business strategies require big changes. Fortunately, James Steenbeke III, president of Steenbeke & Sons Building Supplies,is not afraid of change. In a bold move, he took all of the kitchen centers out of the Steenbeke lumberyard stores and began opening free-standing kitchen and bath design centers in New Hampshire. 

Distinctive Kitchens is focused on serving its current builder base, mainly new construction, while developing a retail remodeling business. All designers are supplied with high-speed computers and the latest design software, as well as color printers to furnish customers with color perspectives. 

Distinctive Kitchens has also created its own installation department, manned by a full-time employee who provides immediate follow-up on all punch list items, as well as quick response to service calls from previous customers. This allows customers to have one-stop service for all of their material and labor needs.

3rd place: Z & G Enterprises, dba Cabinet World, Aliquippa, PA

Division Makes for Better Management

There are no figureheads at Cabinet World, which operates four retail kitchen showrooms in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Each of the four owners has taken on responsibilities that maximize his or her greatest strengths and talents.

As general manager, one of the owners oversees all four showrooms' activities, including hiring, advertising, marketing and promotional activities. 

Sales and order processing are handled by a second owner. While salespeople at the showrooms handle transactions, the order process manager contacts the customer, revisits the job site, verifies all dimensions, makes final changes and reviews the entire job with the customer. He then orders the kitchen and turns the file over to the installation manager.

Scheduling, installation, punch list and completion of payment schedule are all the responsibilities of the third owner. 

The fourth owner oversees contractor and dealer sales through the wholesale division, which operates under a different name. 

This micro-managing by the owners means that they have control over a job from the beginning, and that their salespeople are free to do what they do best sell.

The innovative approach has led to streamlining of jobs, efficient order processing and content customers.