Dealer Works Harder and Smarter for Distinction
By Denise Vermeulen
"You'd better believe that Home Depot or Lowe's has a budget, and they know their gross profit!" she says.
"Working hard is not enough. We have to work smart!"
Working "smart" and motivating others have always been high priorities for Weaver, whose business primarily serves successful, two-income households within a 50-mile radius around Springfield. However, she initially learned these skills in a whole different field. A former biology teacher and cheerleading coach in the public school system, Weaver did not have a strong resume to present when she arrived on the doorstep of a local kitchen and bath dealer looking for a job.
"My husband and I were building a new house, and I was having the time of my life," Weaver says. "I thought it would be wonderful to spend all day playing with house plans."
Of course, the dealer initially said no to Weaver's pleas for a job. She was, however, relentless in her pursuit of the job, offering to work only for commission. Her persistence paid off, and Weaver was ultimately hired. She promptly enrolled herself in an NKBA course and, today, the former schoolteacher continues to believe in education. Weaver enthusiastically attends seminars, and devours books and articles primarily about topics that will enhance the bottom line of her business. Strategic planning, managing money, employee relations and marketing are some of her favorite topics.
Two years ago, Weaver and co-owner of Distinctive Designs, Curt Mavis, sat down and wrote a plan that would take the business, which has been operating since 1990, through the year 2003. The team decided how the company would look when it is essentially "done."
They concluded that they wanted to maintain one showroom and stay relatively small; the company did $1.35 million in sales last year and handles approximately 180 jobs annually. The pair also wanted to create a corporate culture that would recruit and retain employees. The details were hashed out, including the projected numbers.
Once the initial planning was done, Weaver says they realized
that they were not that far away from their goals. Filling in the
gaps was the next task at hand.
According to Weaver, one of the greatest challenges in the kitchen and bath industry is finding new designers. "Colleges are not pumping them out," explains Weaver, "so, we raise them!"
Several years ago, the company hired two women one with a graphic arts degree and one with an interior design degree and immersed them in the business. The apprentices were paid a salary for two years as they learned everything from design to pricing. The co-owners supervised all aspects of their experience.
Although the apprenticeship did not require an agreement to work for the firm after the two years, both of the new designers stayed on. With a generous commission, the new designers now have the opportunity to make "serious money" and have developed into "good, conscientious designers," says Weaver. The program continues today with another apprentice on board whose background is in architecture.
The staff at Distinctive Designs looks forward to a reward system designed to build the team. Weaver, who says she detests sales contests that pit employees against each other, devised a plan that would reward the group as a whole. The goal was to earn a trip to Cancun one employee at a time, based on seniority. The design team made its numbers and celebrated under the Mexican sun last February.