David and GoliathThe cabinet and remodeling business is like the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament in a couple of different ways. There are a lot of teams vying to be the best at what they do. There are large, powerhouse schools that are expected to win every year. Then there are the small, “David” schools that garner the attention of America if they challenge a larger, more well-know school and perhaps beat them. Everyone loves an underdog.

Why is it so compelling to see a relatively unknown school compete with the dominant schools like North Carolina, Duke, and Kansas? Because everyone knows the small schools have fewer resources, less talent, and the shadow of ‘big brother’ lingering over them. Just like money can’t buy love, it can’t buy heart, desire, tenacity or strategy. These attributes are what it takes for smaller schools to win in college basketball, and for small dealers to win in the cabinet business.

Since the building recession started, larger dealerships, contracting and remodleing companies have had to venture into smaller waters to make up for lost revenue, going after retail and remodel jobs when they previously weren’t interested in jobs that size. It was then that the competition began between the Davids of the Industry and the Goliaths.  One might assume that the smaller, “mom and pop” shops might succumb to the strength of the big boys, and some did. However, many have dug their heels in and prepared for a battle in the trenches using the advantages they have over the mainstays. How do the smaller cabinet dealerships  and remodeling companies compete with big brother? The same way the small schools compete in the tournament, with intangible heart, desire, and tenacity, as well as with the right battle plan and good coaching.

Service is one area in which small businesses can match or even beat their competition. Service in the cabinet industry means making the customer feel like theirs is the only kitchen in the world. Smaller businesses have a tendency to be more hands-on and focused on the customer making the experience more personal and less stressful. Most customers don’t have much experience in remodeling or building a kitchen, so the coaching process becomes very important. Smaller businesses are better able to coach their customers through the buying process, because they are dealing with lower volume and the sale simply means more. Leads aren’t as prevalent for smaller dealers, so each opportunity means that much more to the little guy.

The quoting process and the sales process are two more ways in which the smaller dealer can compete with larger dealers. If a smaller dealer is using kitchen cabinet software to quote, order & schedule jobs, their jobs they will come across as more professional because the software streamlines the process of selling kitchens.

Software gives the salesperson the ability to set the pricing on the spot and make adjustments to the quote in seconds. This puts the salesperson in a better position to be able to educate the consumer. Software allows kitchen salespeople to offer a good, better, best scenario for the entire job and allows the prospect to quickly decide (preferably on the spot) the level of kitchen they want to purchase.

Some of the larger cabinet dealers are using custom built software programs to streamline their operations.  But many of these solutions are out of date, difficult to use and don’t work as well as you might think.  This cripples their sales, purchasing and scheduling staff.

If a larger cabinet dealer or remodeling compnay has implemented industry specific software, then chances are they going to be tough to beat (like UNC or Kansas). That doesn’t mean the little guy can’t take some of the other big boys down though. Dealerships now have competition in every aspect of the cabinet selling process, and they must put themselves in the best position to succeed. The intangibles are key. So too is the strategy.

Nothing aids good strategy more than great industry specific software that allows the plan to be carried out with pinpoint accuracy. If your business has the desire and heart to compete with the bigger sharks in the water, but doesn’t yet have the software in place to make the strategy succeed then it’s time to look into it.

Goliath is around the corner and he’s really difficult to take down with a slingshot filled with paperwork and mistakes.