Innovative Showroom Bridges the Gap for Dealer

Innovative Showroom Bridges the Gap for Dealer

By Denise Vermeulen

The solution to his problem became clear when Trzcinski was invited to open a satellite showroom in the hip "Strip District" of Pittsburgh. The hottest place in town, offering great shopping and dining, the area was already home to the upscale Marforth Showroom. Owned and operated by John Miller since 1994, the Marforth showroom is only open to prequalified clients who arrive together with their interior designers.

Miller was looking for a designer to create a working kitchen within his existing showroom. "In my designer showroom, people are here all day long," says Miller, who thought it made good business sense to have a kitchen where he could serve refreshments to clients.

Trzcinski jumped at the opportunity. Both he and Miller recognized the quality of their joint customer base and saw their businesses as a perfect match a great partnership with strong potential benefits to each of them. So, Trzcinski created a 450-sq.-ft. space with a French country design for Miller's showroom, an unmanned "showroom-within-a-showroom" that would exist within the framework of a strong collaboration. 

Joining forces
The agreement between the two calls for the involvement of the client's Marforth designer in any project with KBC that was developed as a result of a visit to the showroom. Trzcinski and his team remain open to different levels of involvement on the part of the interior designers because the projects generated at Marforth typically range between $80,000 and $250,000. This also assures local interior designers that Kitchen & Bath Concepts is not trying to steal their business.

It's an arrangement that is working well, as evidenced by the increase in Trzcinski's business during the first year of operation. Since opening the satellite showroom in February 2000, Kitchen & Bath Concepts has done about $500,000 in additional business, according to Trzcinski. That increase is attributed to three jobs generated at the new showroom. Miller concurs that the partnership works, pointing out that their clients love the arrangement.

Trzcinski sees his satellite showroom as a billboard for his business in one of Pittsburgh's most elite designer showrooms. "I'm putting my products and business in front of 90-120 interior designers who use John's showroom," said Trzcinski. 

The showroom display includes storage ideas, a butler's pantry and a furniture piece that hides a Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer unit, a dishwasher and microwave. One of the Marforth interior designers worked with KBC on color selection and decorating. Trzcinski says the showroom demonstrates KBC's design ability and ingenuity, attention to detail and creative use of space. The latter was particularly important, since he considers space utilization one of his company's specialties.

Touching up
Lately, Trzcinski has been working on making a good thing better. Some of the final touches in the satellite kitchen educate the consumer about KBC and reinforce the idea that projects are always collaborative. KBC promotes this arrangement as a win-win situation for itself, the interior designer and the client. 

This latest plan calls for a "hotline" phone to the KBC main location. A designer can be at the satellite location within 20 minutes. KBC is also producing an audio presentation that will focus on the features in the kitchen and the collaboration. It will encourage visitors to "open thisnotice thatand feel this," as clients move through the exhibit, Trzcinski believes. He notes that both will be ready this spring. A kiosk displaying additional KBC designs with backlit photos, literature and testimonials became operational in February.

Spreading the word
Although this latest endeavor has enhanced KBC's image and expanded business, Trzcinski's design firm is no stranger to marketing. The firm understands completely its target market and strives to pamper its clients. "I put my personal signature on every job," says Trzcinski, who explains that he is readily accessible to all of his clients when they need him. While such a policy is key, KBC also understands the importance of a broader public relations program. To address this issue, the firm has employed a public relations agency for the last several years.

"It's important to constantly do marketing whether we're busy or slow," explains Trzcinski, who's been in business for 27 years. KBC has developed a thick packet of materials it mails to prospective clients, either directly or through local interior designers. The packet, which has a coordinated look and bears the firm's logo, includes third-party endorsements, copies of newspaper and magazine articles featuring KBC and directions to the main showroom. 

KBC also has entered and won numerous design contests. Some of the design firm's projects have been featured in national magazines including Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle and Woman's Day, Trzcinski notes.

However, Trzcinski maintains that his company's most important goal is to always provide good advice and information to the client. "We are accountable, reliable and responsive," he says. And that, more than anything else, helps to build bridges and remove barriers.

Kitchen and Bath Concepts

LOCATION: Pittsburgh, PA
PRINCIPALS: Tom Trzcinski, CKD, CBD, CR, owner and head designer; Viki Liscinsky, CKD, CBD
SHOWROOMS: Two: main showroom, 4,500 sq. ft.; 
satellite showroom, 450 sq. ft. 
MAJOR PRODUCT LINES: Quality Custom Kitchens, Neff Kitchen Manufacturers, Cabico Kitchen.
service-oriented design that primarily focuses on themed kitchens and creative space utilization. 
BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY: "Our goal is to create designs that enhance the customer's lifestyle. From the first time they step in our showroom, they feel different about their projectthey get excited!"