Paper coffee cup with cardboard collar on a white backgroundSounds boring, I know.  Yet you’d be surprised to learn that you’ve been messing around with Special Order Sales ever since you entered the cabinet industry.  You’ve also been placing special orders, sometimes daily, at your favorite, local Starbucks.

“But with complexity comes opportunity.”

Let’s take coffee as an example.  One of my favorite skits of all time is Brian Regan when he talks about ordering “black coffee”, then the waiter asks him “How would you like that?” and he responds “Uhmmm…in a cup?”.

Black coffee is pretty simple to order.  Everybody knows what you’re asking for.  Well, most everybody.  But when we all stand in line and start ordering grande skinny white chocolate mocha, no whip and 15 other descriptors, it becomes a “special order”.

And Starbucks has made an entire business model around Special Order Sales. Think of coffee as a special order: a one of a kind, unique order that needs a lot of things to describe it accurately.  And you can’t really stock it in the back, because what is being ordered is put together at the time of sale.

Special Order Sales is a one of a kind category.  And there are a ton of products that fit into this category like cabinets, millwork, flooring, windows, etc.


Special Order Sales is complicated.  Unlike the standard stuff you can stock at your friendly neighborhood hardware store (i.e. nails, screws, shovels, etc.), this is stuff that’s made to order and it has lead times.  That means there’s no shelf in the back you can go grab it from.

Years ago, we’d order our “coffee” in the cabinet industry this way “I’ll take those cabinets”.  Today, we order them quite differently, “I’ll take xyz cherry cabinets with soft close drawer glides, all plywood construction, mocha glaze, 42 inch uppers, etc.”

And each little choice you make affects the price and cost of that damned cabinet, doesn’t it?

But with complexity comes opportunity.  And there’s never been more of an opportunity to drive margin than for those that dominate the Special Order Sales category.

Stay tuned to learn more about how special order sales can bring opportunity to your kitchen and bath business!