Remodels can add style, function, and safety by way of updating electrical and plumbing systems to current building codes. Not only can this enhance your enjoyment of your home, it can also add value to your house upon resale. The most popular rooms to remodel are kitchens and bathrooms—they’re the most used rooms in the house and the spaces where we interface the most with materials, so they require the most planning and attention to detail. It’s your designer’s job to take the information you provide and develop a plan that targets your needs and budget.
Serious customers prepare for satisfaction.
Here’s a simple formula: if you get what you want, you’ll be satisfied. Over the years, design professionals have learned that it’s in everyone’s best interest to work with serious customers. Here are some qualities of serious customers:
- They take the time to come to the showroom
- They’re prepared to answer questions about their needs and budget
- They’re more likely to be satisfied if they invest time into getting clarity on their vision and need.
Deborah Cleveland of Ashley Interiors, Inc., a Diamond Certified company, has the following advice for consumers who are serious about locking in a satisfying experience:
1. Create a wish list or scrapbook of various images that appeal to you style-wise.
a. Google images
d. Books and magazines
2. Take photographs of your kitchen or bathroom and jot down general measurements (they don’t have to be precise).
3. Grab your scrapbook and measurements and head to a design showroom.
a. Talk to a designer.
b. Get a feel for the products.
c. Get a feel for the firm and the designer.
i. Do you like the designer?
ii. Does the designer understand your needs and vision?
iii. Are you communicating well?
a. According to Ric Plummer of Ric’s Kitchen & Bath Showroom, a Diamond Certified company, you should expect a basic kitchen remodel to start at about $30,000. Houzz.com advises that a “basic kitchen remodel” will cost between $20,000 and $30,000 and include simple lighting, basic appliances, and tile and flooring. What Houzz.com calls a “deluxe kitchen remodel” may start at $100,000. Of course, the actual cost can be worked out at the showroom. This is where the designer’s understanding of your needs and vision meets their expertise with the various product lines.
Once the designer knows your measurements, style and budget, they’ll work with a computer design program to provide a mockup. The mockup can give you a ballpark estimate of what your project will cost by plugging in different products. After the mockup, the design firm will send someone to take the actual measurements before drawing up a contract.
The design professional wants satisfied customers.
A company’s survival depends on generating happy customers. To that end, Ric Plummer draws from 30 years of experience when implementing his business model. His company’s overarching concern is that they want to work with serious customers who are prepared to have satisfying experiences.
Ric likes people who come in, get to know his employees and take part in the process because it shows they’re serious. “Visiting the showroom means the customer is invested,” he says. “When a customer isn’t willing to visit the showroom, it sends a message that they aren’t ready to move forward.” When Ric started, he found that 25 percent of the cold calls he received for measurements and estimates were from renters who were trying to convince their landlords to do a remodel. With this business model, he could spend half the day and not even get the job many times. “It’s not just about money; it’s about brand management,” he says. “We don’t want to hold up serious customers.”
Ric says there are a few exceptions to this rule. “I’ll go to a home and measure if the customer is physically unable to take measurements themselves. I’ll also make an exception if the customer is willing to pay a fee for our time, which is what Home Depot does. If the homeowner becomes a customer, the fee is credited to their contract.”
The initial meeting usually takes about two hours, and then there’s a computer mockup that uses the customer’s measurements and chosen material line, which can take six to seven hours. So, there’s about eight to 10 hours of work before there’s even a contract for the customer to sign. About 90 percent of the time, this effort results in a signed contract. After the contract signing, there may be two or three additional meetings to finalize details. So, the company invests 15 to 20 hours before they even get started. Ric’s Kitchen & Bath Showroom only does full kitchen and bathroom remodels—they don’t take on new clients who just want one piece changed out. However, if a former customer needs a vanity or shower door replaced, they’ll do it.
Ric says the secret to maintaining a great reputation is to not take on the drama. “You have to know where the drama starts and ends. A reputable designer will know what types of situations can lead to conflict and understand how to avoid these situations so they can concentrate on delivering quality experiences to quality customers.”