White clock with words Time for Action on its faceWe’ve patently called out the K&B industry as not being the hotbed of innovation. Let’s face it, an industry that clings to the rollout tray as a shining example of modernism is not exactly on the cutting edge of technology.

So we accept that the manufacturers can’t see the forest for the trees. That doesn’t mean that the packaging, or at least the bow that ties the package together, has to reside in 1964. We can start by shaking up the consumer experience in shopping the kitchen.

The greenhouse phase

Any conversation that starts about this experience has to have its roots in capturing the customer when they are in the greenhouse phase of the shopping process. This early information gathering experience can begin 12 to 24 months before the consumer sets foot in your showroom. The current common thought process is that this is the bailiwick of the manufacturers; mistake number one in today’s consumer experience. Allowing the majority of the interest to be driven by the manufacturer means that the consumer can walk into the showroom with a brand preference. Let’s face it, that can work for you (if you sell that brand), or against you if you now have to sell against that brand.

I have always professed that cabinet brand is the least of the emphasis on what we sell, but we’ll deal with that in a follow-up. Many of us can sell around brand, but why start there?

The greenhouse period, illustrated below, is where we should focus our early effort. It is here that we can shape the consumer perception of what a kitchen shopping experience should look like; a de-emphasis of branding and strong emphasis on your value proposition is in order.

Kitchen and bath revolution

How it’s done

How do we do this? What is our value proposition in the greenhouse stage? What activity will cause the consumer to prefer my showroom over the sea of sameness? Ahh, now we’re getting to the meat of the material…

Let’s suppose we’re in a perfect world where we can effectively shape a consumer’s perception of how things should go during the process of buying a kitchen. While we’re in that LaLa land, let’s also imagine that we could be viewed as the  authority on kitchens in our corner of the world. What effect do you think that would have on your sales process when that prospect first walks through your door?

This is the world of the greenhouse where we establish ourselves as a subject matter expert, illustrate how we are in tune with the consumer’s needs (and buying process) and emphasize our understanding of those needs. All of this while aiming our arrow at the local market, the place we need to win every time someone thinks about buying a kitchen. This is the progressive thinking that you must bring to your business to survive in todays marketplace.

Ten years ago, just having a website was enough (arguably) to bring that consumer in. Now, that thinking is only cost of entry, not a winning hand. Today, we need:

  • Blogs that assert our authority as subject matter experts.
  • A social media presence that has us as the authority and knowledge leader in our market.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) that directs local shopping to us every time through key words that matter, both in our industry and the local market.
  • Lead generation activities that capture and deliver qualified consumers to our sales people.

This is only step one, of course. We will look into the sales process next, and then the showroom of the future as we continue this series of articles.

Nick Ritota, CKD-CBD is Director of Sales and Marketing for CompanionCabinet Software, a marketing, training and software company specific to the kitchen and bath industry.  For free dealer resources, visit here.

Need help marketing your business? Contact Nick at 704.688.4088