62-speedy_gonzales - fastest quotesThe world of kitchen quoting is one that revolves around speed.  Consumers expect it and even demand it.  Your ability to quote lands you jobs.  Your ability to quote faster means you can take swings at more opportunities.  The problem designers have today is there’s not enough time to take all the swings they’d like.  Seemingly overnight, they are maxed on bidding jobs.

And yet local cabinet shops in their area can quote ten times the amount of jobs than a typical kitchen designer.  And these smaller outfits are winning.

“It’s not just the smaller jobs they’re winning,” said Frank Canova, Sr., owner at Diablo Valley Cabinets in CA.  “They’re getting the larger jobs that prior to 2008 were reserved for the more established dealers in our area.”

These smaller shops don’t always win on product quality, finish or service – they win on cost and speed because they can turn around a quote in a fraction of the time it takes a typical designer in our industry.

The ants are marching

The ability to quote faster is allowing the little guys to swarm the sometimes more established cabinet dealers and remodelers like an army of ants.  While the dealer is mired in the minutiae of quoting, these smaller guys are like kitchen quoting ninjas.  They quote with brutal accuracy right in the customer’s home, and then they’re gone.

How can they do this without a design?  How are they taking so much market share?  And how can dealers strike back?

The answer to all three questions is quick quoting.

Quick quoting

The kitchen and bath industry has its fair share of things we’ve done because it’s been that way forever; because somebody told us to do it that way.  When things have been around for so long, they just become part of the room you’re sitting in – a permanent fixture never to be questioned, never to be removed.  Like the myriad of cables hanging down from my TV, which I never really noticed until I was married.  Well, okay fine it wasn’t just the cables.  It was a combination of the drapes, unfinished second bathroom, various collector items lying about, lack of pictures, and about fourteen more pages of stuff I can’t remember right now.

Quoting a customer by starting a design is a great example of something that never seems to be questioned in our industry. Why?  Because we’ve always done it this way.  And yet this simple design-focused quoting process, accepted as an industry norm for decades, is killing dealers nationwide.

It seems that while the ants are marching to a different tune (i.e. quoting cabinets on linear feet, etc.), designers still insist on quoting a price using design software.  And that means hours spent in quoting while the competition invests minutes.  That means that for every swing a dealer takes at bat, the ants take a dozen or more.

You’ll hear tons of complaints on this approach, of course, yet dealer salespeople have been quoting this way for years (hint: go look at their crazy spreadsheets…the ones that usually go out to column AZ).

Sure some of them are over engineered, some are wrought with errors and still others are impossible to maintain the first time a catalog update comes out.  But quick quoting works, and there are tools, like quick quote software, available now that can make it easy for you and your staff and land you within a few percent of the price you would have quoted if you invested hours into a design.


The days of using design software to quote a price are over.  Dealers and remodelers just haven’t fully realized this yet.

Today it’s more important than ever to find ways to quote faster without losing accuracy.  And you should be able to get within a few percentage points of what the manufacturer will quote the old fashioned way.

For you die-hards out there, who insist on quoting everything starting with a design, don’t be surprised with your lack of sales production this year.  You’re going to have to find ways to get a price out earlier in the process without ever touching your design software.

Unfortunately, the answer doesn’t lie with your cabinet manufacturer.  They don’t know how to solve this and won’t anytime soon.  They’re more interested in incremental gains instead of larger leaps in innovation.

You’re going to have to solve this one on your own.