Setting up Kitchen & Bathroom business

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by bloorino, Nov 18, 2009.

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  1. bloorino

    bloorino UKBF Newcomer

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    I have decided to take the plunge and leave my comfortable sales job to start my own kitchen & bathroom design supply and installation business. I have had 12 years experience in the industry before i went in to sales 2 years ago.

    Does anyone have any words of wisdom that may help me getting on my feet?
     
    Posted: Nov 18, 2009 By: bloorino Member since: May 20, 2009
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  2. Beachcomber

    Beachcomber UKBF Legend

    6,723 3,012
    Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

    I'm sure you have all the usual bases covered - local competition / team of installers / advertising / suppliers / minimising costs etc.

    Will you be opening a showroom or running in home visits (or both)? Have you got a web site with basic kitchen planner tool using the range you offer?
     
    Posted: Nov 18, 2009 By: Beachcomber Member since: Apr 29, 2009
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  3. CKG

    CKG UKBF Legend

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    I've seen loads of these types of outfits come and the vast majority go over the years.

    They were universally crap at making sure the installation side of things ran smoothly. Bits missing or not being ordered, making too many promises and generally over selling and under delivering on the whole situation.

    Couldn't fault their showrooms and sales patter though.
     
    Posted: Nov 18, 2009 By: CKG Member since: May 26, 2007
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  4. Guest

    0 0
    Keep positive and get your name/brand recognised like crazy. Think also about how you market your business.

    If you ever need anything designed such as adverts, flyers, business stationery... feel free to contact me. I can help :)
     
    Posted: Nov 18, 2009 By: Member since: Jan 1, 1970
    #4
  5. Willself

    Willself UKBF Regular

    743 54
    Well they say the recovery is on the way!! Kitchens are the number 1 item when people consider a Re-furb!! followed by bathrooms// central heating etc etc!

    One advantage on-line selling offers is...you can offer Top//Middle//Bottom. ranges without the need for stocking..Sell first!!
    then source....

    A first class fitting TEAM!! is the key...Every Sucess!!:D
     
    Posted: Nov 18, 2009 By: Willself Member since: Aug 26, 2009
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  6. steve the fitter

    steve the fitter UKBF Newcomer

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    If your doing the selling the only other things you need are good installers and a supplier who can get the order right first time. Both very important.
     
    Posted: Nov 18, 2009 By: steve the fitter Member since: Oct 4, 2009
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  7. bloorino

    bloorino UKBF Newcomer

    64 4
    Thanks for comments. I'll give you a little more back ground. I was in the trade for 12 years and consider myself a damn good fitter, i also have first class plumber/gas fitter and a good labourer.

    I was just wondering if anybody has any advice on the best routes to market> Where should i be advertising? Is there anymore i could be doing?

    I have a website which is almost up and running. I am very passionate about making this business work and would like to have a showroom in a year or 2.

    I have a great local supplier who makes the units in house and i also get a good deal on my appliances.

    Basically has anyone got any success stories they want to share and how they achieved it.
     
    Posted: Nov 19, 2009 By: bloorino Member since: May 20, 2009
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  8. Tw Installations

    Tw Installations UKBF Enthusiast

    165 61
    Well.....

    I dont think there is any easy answer to your post,

    Being a good "fitter" does dont make you good in business, I guess it comes down to want you want if its just a couple of kitchen a week then I think you could get there pretty quickly.

    If it running 5 fitting teams putting out 20 kitchens a week then there is no easy answer to this Just hard work, comon sense and business knowledge.

    I am in this industry too but I think the answer might lie not in the kitchen side of things, its the business side.

    Nothing prepares you for doing it own your own, its all about knowing the market, knowing when the peak buying times are, measure your marketing, log every new enquiry, plan out logistics for the jobs themselves, constantly monitor and refine your sales process, build up relationships with the suppliers, build up a great team and much much more.

    These very forums are a fantastic way to start though and there are loads of good helpfull people on them.

    Best of Luck

    Tommy
     
    Posted: Nov 21, 2009 By: Tw Installations Member since: Apr 1, 2009
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  9. saxondale

    saxondale Banned

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    one a day?
     
    Posted: Nov 21, 2009 By: saxondale Member since: Jul 23, 2008
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  10. Willself

    Willself UKBF Regular

    743 54
    Well like many markets, it has its TOP!! people like Smallbones, Poph-en-pho...my spelling is a disgrace!!:eek:

    Middle people like Kitchens Direct!! Magnet!!etc, and local Showrooms in every town...Who mostly fill this segment!!


    And the DIY..bottom end!! B&Q..spring to mind!!

    Where do you see you self!! if you want to grow your base locally then
    Take a FULL page in your local Rag!! Advertise on your local Radio Station! in terms of PR......you might "OFFER! A fully Fitted Kitchen!!
    to the lucky winner of 1-125!! first Quotes...or...installations!!
    That way you certainly generate INTEREST!! what you do afterwards
    in down to your skills!!.....GOOD LUCK!!:D
     
    Posted: Nov 21, 2009 By: Willself Member since: Aug 26, 2009
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  11. Tw Installations

    Tw Installations UKBF Enthusiast

    165 61

    Yeah I think one a day is achievable, I know a few companies put out this much, some are in the private market, some contract for the insurance companies and some tender for the local councils. Also companies like reface ( replacing doors, handles worktops etc ), in and out in a day, not as much profit per job but its based entirely on volume and its the year end figure that matters.

    Tommy
     
    Posted: Nov 21, 2009 By: Tw Installations Member since: Apr 1, 2009
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  12. Brad Naylor

    Brad Naylor UKBF Contributor

    43 21
    Do you watch Coronation Street?

    Well, there's a bloke on there at the moment called 'Jer' or something who runs a business just like you're talking about. Nice van in his company livery 'Klever Kitchens'; no other real overheads, and obviously a decent enough fitter.

    He couldn't even make a decent living when the market was booming. Now it's gone tits up he's in hock to loan sharks, has lost his van and tools etc, is a druggy and is having to resort to marrying Gail Tilsley to get himself out of the brown stuff. Desperate times call for desperate measures...:eek:

    But that of course is soap opera fiction. In reality blokes like 'Jer' are doing OK generally.

    I buy my kitchen carcasses from a local manufacturer like the one you describe. Overall his volumes are well down on a couple of years ago; where he was making 20 kitchens a week he is down to 8 or 10. He tells me though, that the guys selling and fitting a kitchen per week out of a van have not been affected in anything like the way that the smart shops you see in every town have. Many of those have seen their business vanish almost completely and are going bust left, right and centre.

    If you are happy for now to do say 3 or 4 kitchens or bathrooms per month with you doing the bulk of the fitting work yourself I would say your idea is a goer. Cost things right and £1000 per week nett profit should be achievable in pretty short order. Higher volumes neccesitate lower margins, bigger overheads, and teams of fitters. I would urge you to wait until things settle down a bit more before even thinking along those lines. The real recession might not have even started yet!

    I would say that now is a good time to start thinking about the promotional work for your new business. A website is great, but this is a very competitive sector and getting your site seen by anyone is going to take time. Leaflet drops and local newspaper advertising could kick start things a little, but there is no point whatsoever until December 27th. That is the day that Mrs Average starts thinking about upgrading her home interior - with Christmas out of the way. I would keep the day job going for now, then!

    Best of luck.

    Brad
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
    Posted: Nov 22, 2009 By: Brad Naylor Member since: Nov 7, 2009
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  13. bloorino

    bloorino UKBF Newcomer

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    I'd just like to say a big thanks to everyone who has commented, its great being able to get advice from people in the trade.

    Anymore comments greatly recieved!!
     
    Posted: Nov 22, 2009 By: bloorino Member since: May 20, 2009
    #13
  14. LicensedToTrade

    LicensedToTrade UKBF Legend

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    Hey bloorino, I just wanted to wish you all the best in your new venture.

    I'm responsible for Marketing for Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK (We own Jewson and Graham) so obviously I know a little about marketing our Kitchen service through Graham and Jewson. If you have any specific question you need some pointers on please feel free to PM me and I will try my best to give you a hand.

    We don't do much external advertising these days, we don't need to. We very very rarely use radio or published advertising but it takes a lot of time to get to that stage.
     
    Posted: Nov 22, 2009 By: LicensedToTrade Member since: Nov 7, 2009
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  15. TargetNumberOne

    TargetNumberOne UKBF Newcomer

    36 2
    My brother and I started up a similar business 5 years ago operating from my garage, only we were selling kitchens and bedrooms. Back then we had no showroom (that came in year 3) and the business came in from ppc marketing and advertising in our local papers, plus flyer distribution.

    The fastest route to market was through online advertising - and incidently this was also the most cost effective.

    Looking at the 2008 figures, our cost per lead was approximately £230 using PPC, whereas with local advertising was just over £500. We did take out an expensive Yellow pages ad during our first year, and received approximately a dozen calls, which generated one sale.

    Other important things to mention - we project managed the whole operation and had to go through a number of fitters before finding someone reliable. I know you're a fitter yourself but please be aware that if that what you want to do, you may have to hire someone to give you a hand managing with the sales calls, appointments, kitchen designs, placing orders, accounts and general admin, etc.

    All in all, there is a lot of competition out there but by the same measure, some of the operators have gone out of business (e.g. MFI) which means that there is an opportunity for smaller more agile businesses. Focus on building a good relationship with your customers and providing a good quality of work. If you can get referrals from existing customers you can write your own cheque in this industry.

    Hope that helps and good luck!
    Tony
     
    Posted: Nov 27, 2009 By: TargetNumberOne Member since: Nov 13, 2009
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  16. estwig

    estwig UKBF Legend

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    Quick way to get right to people who definitely want a kitchen;

    Your local council website will have a section with all the local planning apps and possibly building control apps as well, names and addresses of people having extensions built. 9 times outta 10, new extension = new kitchen, write to these people and introduce yourself, follow up with another letter approx 6 weeks later. This will generate work for you, but you gotta get orgnaised, get into mail merge in Word and creating databases in excel.

    look at who is building the extension and write to the builder as well, offering him a mark-up, or a kick back, on your services/prices.

    Good luck.
     
    Posted: Nov 27, 2009 By: estwig Member since: Sep 29, 2006
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  17. LicensedToTrade

    LicensedToTrade UKBF Legend

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    It's good advice but be careful about who you mention it to. Planning permission documents are put online to make local residents ware of what is happening around them in case they should want to petition against any action. It will explicitly state when you enter the website that it is not to be used by companies trying to solicit business from individuals. Lots of people do it, but just be careful. Your hit rate will be inflated due to the fact that you are approaching warmer leads, but at the same time you will often find that people have been granted permission to extend their kitchen but they have no intention of acting on it for another few years which can be an annoying waste of your time. Good luck.
     
    Posted: Nov 27, 2009 By: LicensedToTrade Member since: Nov 7, 2009
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  18. estwig

    estwig UKBF Legend

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    I was doing this for almost 3 years, at our peak we were sending out 400 letters a month, offering to build the lofts and extensions. We had a turnover touching £500k, just doing large domestic work. Not for me anymore though, the stress is unreal!!

    One problem we did encounter early on, was people wanting to know how we got their details, some people got really p*ssed off about it. So the opening line to our letter was something like, 'having seen your building application on the local council website, we would like to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves.' That overcame the problem.

    It's still a brilliant, direct form of marketing, for the right business.
     
    Posted: Nov 27, 2009 By: estwig Member since: Sep 29, 2006
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  19. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend

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    What business skills do you have? Do you understand Cashflow, this is probably the one area where companies fail when new

    They make a business plan based upon what there dreams are made of and not based upon cold facts of life

    The large companies have spent a fortune in marketing you have so far probably spent very little, so you will be up against some strong players from day one. Did you go out and get cold customers when you were selling or did the company do the hard bit and just leave you to close the deal.

    It's so easy when you start up to expect orders to flow in but for the first year that seldom happens and after the initial burst, they slow down and Cashflow becomes the problem

    If you are fitting you are not selling and the other way round, is time set aside for repairs and to just put things right.

    I know nothing of your personal experience so can just paint another side that seems to happen very often, but good luck and dont day dream when making your business plan, just be realistic
     
    Posted: Nov 27, 2009 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
    #19
  20. bloorino

    bloorino UKBF Newcomer

    64 4
    TargetNumberOne: What on line advertising worked best for you? How busy are you at the moment? I plan to design the kitchens myself, as i have done this as part of a uni course i did plus i did it in the past. I have some good contacts, my dads a great plumber, i'v got sparkies etc who i know. Do you think i need to look at getting a business partner if possible??

    Estwig: Thanks for that will look down the council planing route.

    Chris Ashdown: I have done limited cold call selling, my current role is more account management, I do have basic business knowledge. Do you have any tips to help me on the business side of things??
     
    Posted: Nov 27, 2009 By: bloorino Member since: May 20, 2009
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