One of the most common questions I get from kitchen and bath professionals is how to become more competitive. Especially when dealing with competitors who are undercutting bids.

Your typical textbook responses would be to focus on better service, sell value instead of price, be more creative on marketing, and I’m sure we could think of hundreds more until our eyes glazed over.

The challenge with answers like this is that they all sound great, they all get plenty of head nods around the table, but they don’t give you anything concrete that you can start doing differently tomorrow.

I say we throw out the MBA classroom garbage and even the obvious things we should do to be more competitive, and just start over with a very simple idea. No management courses needed.  It’s so simple even your fifth grade nephew would think of it.

The Cabinet Dealer Secret Sauce

Here’s the secret:

The dealer who can process a customer’s order most efficiently wins. 

Of course by efficiently I mean with the fewest possible mistakes, the least amount of labor and the least amount of headaches from the customer’s perspective.

I know, it sounds too simple.  But how many times do we over engineer these days by over thinking things?  I can tell you confidently that the  leaders in this industry process quotes and orders more efficiently than everyone else.  Their closing rates are the highest, their labor the lowest and they are gaining marketshare quickly.  And they aren’t always the largest dealers either – in fact, they’re rarely the largest dealers.

They are usually led by managers and owners who are open to new technology, new ideas and religiously eliminate any inefficiencies in their operation.

Here’s why it works:

  1. Making less mistakes improves your profitability. By streamlining your process you can be more competitive on price.  I know, shocker, right?
  2. Customers who experience little or no headaches are more likely to go out of their way to refer you. This makes your future sales challenges easier to overcome.
  3. Streamlining aspects of how you operate means that less people need to be involved in processing an order. That means less chances for mistakes (see #1) and better customer referrals (see #2). It also means your payroll will stay lean.

Death by a Thousand Cuts Isn’t Much Fun

As you streamline each layer of what your people are doing, a magical thing starts to happen. Instead of death by a thousand cuts, you’ll build huge momentum as you plug the many leaks in your operation. If you want to gain markets share on your competition, you have to process an order better than they do. Jamming a bunch of new sales into a leaky ship isn’t sustainable. With that approach, you’ll still be complaining about your competitors 12 months from now.

Start thinking about gaining sustainable market share. That’s where the engine you build now starts sneaking up on your competition. Once you overtake them, you’ll have so much momentum they’ll never catch up.

Then, next year, you won’t have to fight so hard for killer sales revenue.