Franchise Owners Rebuild After Wildfire

Colorado Springs, CO -- While many kitchen and bath firm owners dream of the busy pre-recession days when business seemed to be on fire, few could ever imagine the destruction of having their business catch fire, literally speaking. But that’s exactly what happened to Bruce and Lori Morgan, whose home-based Kitchen Tune-Up remodeling franchise was ravaged by Colorado wildfires earlier this year, along with 346 other neighborhood homes.

With only a scant hour to pack up as many of their belongings as possible, the Morgans struggled to figure out which personal belongings and business files could be rescued before time ran out. “People were yelling that a wall of fire was rolling down the hill toward us…and that we had to get out NOW!” recalls Bruce Morgan.

While he was able to grab the some treasured personal items as well as the firm’s work-in-progress file, much was left behind, and he notes that the fire destroyed tax IDs, account numbers and passwords, along with financial records from the last seven years. “We had numerous things backed up, but it wasn’t enough,” he states. “We lost sales estimates, which will delay projects that were to begin this winter, and we lost documents that we needed to follow up with customers.” This, he says, was a critical loss, “since customer service is such a huge part of our business plan.”

 

A FIRM ON THE RISE

Prior to the fire, the firm was seeing good growth, despite the economy. “2012 started out well for us, as more people were excited about updating their kitchens. We had concluded our home show season in April and were looking forward to a busy summer,” reports Bruce.

Since the firm’s primary clienteles is made up of homeowners looking to freshen up without necessarily doing a complete remodel, the economic conditions actually favored the firm’s offerings, which include affordable kitchen and bath remodeling, cabinet refacing and redooring, wood reconditioning, closet organization and custom cabinetry.

In fact, the Morgans’ business philosophy “has always been to provide customers with solutions for any budget,” Bruce notes. That may include anything from “having their existing cabinets restored and ‘Tuned -Up’ along with new handles” to “working with past clients who appreciated our work ethic and hire us when they have the funds to proceed with larger projects.”

Established in 1994, the Morgans’ business is based on simple values like communication and customer service. They note, “Even though we have been running this business for 18 years, our business model has not changed. We love providing our clients with kitchen solutions for any budget, and customer satisfaction is our main priority.”

One recent project was done for clients recently relocated from Germany who wanted their existing oak cabinets to look like European, full-overlay cherry slab doors, along with some brushed nickel upper doors with smoked glass panels to accent the area nearest the appliances. “They already had a custom granite tile countertop, so custom Refacing Plus was the answer to create this look. The existing cabinet boxes and countertops stayed in place, but the kitchen was completely transformed,” says Bruce Morgan.

The Morgans note that the firm is marketed through home shows, print advertising, referrals from past customers, professional referrals from other cabinet and countertop companies and new or expanded projects from past customers.

 

STRONG SUPPORT NETWORK

In the wake of the destruction, the Morgans were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support they received. According to Bruce Morgan, “The amount of calls and emails from friends, family and other franchise owners from across the country offering their support has been incredible. We’ve been very fortunate with people in the community reaching out and helping us. We were lent a temporary office space, and another family let us stay in their home while they vacationed. Numerous Kitchen Tune-Up franchise owners from across the country also made cash donations, which were then matched by the Kitchen Tune-Up corporate office.”

Still, the Morgans admit that it’s been a tough road. “We miss having a home office that was organized, where we knew where everything was located,” they admit.

But the experience has taught them some valuable lessons. For one thing, they note, “We have learned that we were not fully utilizing technology to store and organize past estimates along with details on past projects.”

Perhaps more importantly, the Morgans learned the value of community, and the importance of resilience. As Bruce Morgan concludes, “Resilience to keep pushing forward, no matter the circumstances, has and will continue to contribute to our success.”

 

Captions:

Morgan Refacing Plus Hickory

Traditional hickory cabinets are trending in the Morgans' demographic, though the firm has more than 400 door designs and colors available and can create custom options as well.

 

Morgan Refacing Cherry Amber

For those on a budget, or not ready to commit to a full remodel, the Kitchen Tune-Up process allows homeowners to update their kitchen on a budget.

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