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Posted: Sat, Sep 09 2006, 1:59AM
I have been doing furniture for over 30 years, I started doing kitchens here in Australia because customers ask me to. I have about 300 cabinets in my libary and it doesn't take long to create a few new ones.
my problem is it takes a long time to design a nice kitchen even with all my cabinets, how do you guys go about designing for quoting purposes
it seems I do a lot of work the customer looks at it gets the price and go to somebody else. I tried charging for the designs but here in Adelaide nobody pays for it. Could we share kitchen designs I would have no problems making my designs available for other users in ecabinets, even if is for presentation only. I would like to know how all of you in the rest of the world handle that part of your business, I work in the workshop 10 hours a day and 8 in front of the computer, at present I design 6 kitchens a week and get 2 a week from it. dont take me wrong I'm not complaining I would just like to know.
I'm sorry about this long story, but I had to ask.
Posted: Sat, Sep 09 2006, 7:02AM
I don't think anyone would take that as complaining. Everyone is pretty much in the same boat hence the discussion of just how to take your business to the next level.
I don't know about Australia, Ne Zealand or South Africa, but here in the U.S. and Canada we have to fight what we call the \"big box\" competitors.
These are the huge nationwide chains of home improvement centers that have artful displays and professionally designed \"idea books\" where home owners look at great looking kitchen designs and say \"I want that\".
The home center clerk (who in most cases has no actual experience in design or cabinetry) fills in the blank and happily sells them a truck load of junk that they either must install themselves or cantract an installer to install.
These same folks visit the custom cabinet makers with the home center idea books (and prices) in hand and say \"Can you make this?\" The cabinet maker says \"Sure\" and makes an appointment to come to the customer's home for measurements, etc.
Then we go back to the shop and make preliminary designs and estimates for the customer call them and the go into cardiac arrest over the price.
Is that about the way it works there as well?
In my opinion this is the biggest obstacle we have to overcome. We have to educate customers up front about the differences between mass-produced home center \"boxes\" and custom cabinetry.
Once the customer understands the difference and the amount of work that goes into creating a design (it's not just checking a quantity box) they will either be willing to pay a deposit (applied toward the cost of the job if they select you, not refunded if they don't) or leave and buy ill-fitting mass-produced boxes from a clerk at the home center.
Either way you come out ahead. If the customer pays the deposit and decides they don't want you to do the job, you get paid for your design time. If the customer wants you to do the job, you get paid for the job. If the customer goes to the home center, you haven't wasted your time designing something that aren't going to buy from you.
Posted: Sat, Sep 09 2006, 10:55AM
Here in Western Canada, I don't do design if I have the feeling the client is shoping. I get a lot of jobs through a few renovation contractors and most of the times I know I already have the job. If not, depending on the details I have about the jobs I will put together a price before doing any design. If their reaction is positive and they want to go further I will discuss with the client what they like and what they don't like to know if I have to adjust my price or not.
When I see they are committed then I will start the design process and a lot of time I already have a contract at this stage. I don't do design for the tire kickers, not anymore anyway.
The experience will refine your way of reading peoples. And will come a time when you won't waste as much time in your quoting and designing process.
Posted: Sat, Sep 09 2006, 1:05PM
I use to do the designs the same way you do, but after the experience you are going through I had to come up with a simpler way
I bid mine a little differently than the others to some degree. When I get a call, I sell them over the phone that we are not in the market to compete against \"Big Box\" nor will we ever compete. We are a custom cabinet shop and our designing cost is x$ per hr. Or we will quote a price for installed cabinets based on style, construction and finish.
We bid according to Lft. as a quick way to weed out the shoppers from the serious minded people. And, I can do this on the fly.
Our initial bid will be high. If it's too high for them, we can lower the price by taking out the lazy susans or pull outs etc. We let them get sticker shocked a little. But, remind them that it is with all the bells and whistles we can provide. Ie. ball bearing slides, crown, light box molding and pull outs. (you get the picture.) And, by removing what they don't want they feel a little more in control. We don't do designs without a fee.
I can't say this will work for you but it does for me and I'm sticking with it.
Posted: Sat, Sep 09 2006, 3:18PM
Hey, I think sometimes you need to be blunt with a client and say \" if your just looking for a price we're higher, but if you want us to do the job then lets talk\" That alone should weed out some of the tire kickers. What we often do is ask the client what there budget is then show them what they get for that amount. And sell ourselves to them, and get to a point where they don't need to shop around. That way you get to feel out the client. You certainly don't want to design a 25,000$ job if they want to spend 10,000$. We've had jobs where it boiled down to having to go to a cheaper drawer slide than what we would normally use just to fit there budget. And they were happy because through selling ourselves we became their cabinetmakers.
Posted: Sat, Sep 09 2006, 7:43PM
thank you for taking the time to respond.
We have three big companies here everybody knows and it is like you say,we also have a few companies where the customers think if I go to them there well known I get what I ask for. Businesses like mine wer'e operating for 25 years now make a very good product but we can not afford all the advertising or fancy brochures to let people know what wer'e all about. I do ask for there budget then you know what sort of kitchen they can have.I created simple cabinets without any hardware, just cabinets, with doors and drawers create there room and do a simple layout, quick quote and thats it. I only take it further if there happy to take it further and then I do get the deposit.
thank you and good luck to all of you, I'm glad that this forum gives me the opportunity to talk to other woodworkers.
regards Fred (Karin is my wife had to reregister after a virus hid my computer)
Posted: Thu, Jan 18 2007, 12:54AM
dan epps steriotyped the way it works in my area, I agree with be bold and upfrom with the difference in product apple and oranges.
I had an experience, where little did I know I was shopped
, but the contractor talked the client into buying my product simply becuase I would build the cabinets the exact way they wanted, the end result, my quality and craftsmanship were not even an interest and I got the comment \"could have been a few thousand less\". this was a nice, nice job. and all they wanted was a few cabinets custom built to fit and work a certain way, hahaha
any way I do try to qualify my customers. the real customer to me is the contractor and a relationship with them seems to cut down on the \" i need a place to put dishes\" customer, I have refered a few folks to a \"big boxer\" and the were happy,