Prepare Your Clients for a Showroom Visit

My father and I founded Metropolitan Cabinets and Countertops in 1984 with a mission: to provide seamless, superior service to the design and build trades. We like to think we’ve done our job well; our business has grown steadily during the last three decades.

Today, we design and build more than 25,000 cabinets a year. Our stone shop is busy, too, with our craftsmen cutting and building countertops and other home features in granite, marble and engineered sustainable stone materials every day. Although we keep our eye on satisfying architects, builders, contractors and designers, there is another more important group whom we’re all working to satisfy: the homeowner.

With many of our kitchen and bath projects, the process begins with the arrival of homeowners and their design/build professional at one of our three Boston-area showrooms (Natick, Norwood and Watertown).Typically, the homeowners will meet with one of our in-house designers; discuss their dreams and desires for the new space; and select materials, finishes and hardware. Once this has been accomplished, we begin the process of designing and building their kitchen or bath project at our 85,000-square-foot manufacturing center in Norwood.

The first showroom visit is an important step that can set the tone for the entire renovation project. We appreciate the designers and contractors who have properly prepared their clients. They’ve made the project easier for us, and, even more importantly, they’ve made it easier for their clients.

To ensure your clients are well prepared, take time to do the following before their first showroom visit:

  • Translate their wish list into reality. At the beginning of the project, many homeowners have dreamed for a long time about what they’d like, but most likely they have little understanding of what it will take to get there. If you’ve taken the time to walk your clients through the steps necessary to accomplish their renovation agenda, they will be able to distinguish between realistic goals and impossible dreams.

We’ve been privileged to work on many innovative design projects that produced incredible results. However, depending on the materials and the process, these can be costly in terms of the bottom line and the time it takes to accomplish those results.

  • Budget and set priorities. When homeowners sit down with their remodeling professional and work out a realistic budget with allowances for appliances, cabinets and countertops, they can select the best options they can afford from the start. If they don’t know exactly what they want when they arrive at the showroom, they will at least recognize what they can afford.
  • Create a sensible timeline. Be honest with your client. Unforeseen obstacles can and do happen in the renovation business, but a well-planned project is more likely to run smoothly and on time. Homeowners who understand a job done right takes time are far more patient during the process.
  • Do their homework. No kitchen can be correctly designed without knowing what specific appliances will be used and their dimensions. Whether your clients are buying new or using their existing refrigerator, stove, dishwasher or other appliances, ask them to get out the tape measure or, even better, the owner’s manual.

Also helpful are homeowners who have already perused design magazines and websites to explore what they like and what they don’t. If you’re working with a couple, urge them to consult with one another and reach a consensus about likes and dislikes before they head to the showroom.

  • Finally, make an appointment. Eager homeowners sometimes overlook this last step. Your clients deserve our full time and attention. Setting an appointment ahead of time guarantees we’ll be ready and able to help.

Stuart Elfland is the co-founder and president of Metropolitan Cabinets & Countertops, a cabinet manufacturer and distributor with showrooms in Natick, Norwood and Watertown, Mass.