KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-news - since 2002
24th March 2017
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SOAPBOX: The same old problem
By Bill Miller, managing director, Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group (KBBG)
"Some years ago, when independent kitchen retailers sold a kitchen, it was a reasonably straightforward affair.
What customers saw on display was usually what they chose. A design was created and quotation prepared and, if everything went well, within a few weeks the job was probably wrapped up and the money in the till.
How different it is today. For many independent kitchen retailers it is now quite rare for a customer to simply just want to buy a new kitchen. With the current trend towards 'improve not move', a new kitchen extension is now one of the most common drivers of kitchen sales. In a recent survey, undertaken by a leading independent kitchen retailer, 89% of kitchen sales over a year were due to a new extension or building work. What impact is this having on kitchen retailers - and why does it matter?
One result of this trend is the extended lead time from first customer contact through to job completion. This has now gone from typically a few weeks to often many, many months and in some cases more than a year. Kitchen designs are now being created based upon architects' drawings, and retailers are having to work alongside architects and builders, agreeing the placement of utility services and the positioning of window and door openings in order to create a better kitchen space.
In short, the whole process has become much more complicated and time consuming for retailers. Typically, all this expert advice, numerous site visits and design service is given free of charge and with no assurance that at the end of the process the retailer will get the kitchen order, or even if the customer will get planning permission. I know, speaking to many retailers, that this situation is putting terrific strain on their businesses and, due to extended lead times, is adversely effecting cash flow.
Serious consideration now needs to be given to whether retailers should charge for their kitchen design service. At least by doing so, the designer is getting a commitment from the customer. I have met some retailers who are now refusing to undertake any kitchen design work if planning permission has not first been granted, but even once it is in place, in my view it is not unreasonable to charge a customer around £500 for a kitchen design.
I would be interested to hear what other kitchen retailers think?
1st April 2016