It’s hard to know where to start when determining which Kitchen and Bath design company is best to hire for your upcoming project. And if you begin your research online, your browser will be met with an overwhelming number of design companies all making the same claims… That they create the best designs, use the best products, and have the most satisfied clients.
But if all these companies appear to have the same qualities, what differentiates the people who claim they are the best from the people who really are the best?
It’s not always easy to distill this information from a website. But don’t worry: We’re going to give you some tools to guide your research. In today’s blog, we are going to share six things you should look for in a Kitchen & Bath company worth hiring.
1. Quality Designers
When beginning your quest to find the best K&B company for your project, one of the first things you should research is the quality of their designers. Your designer is the person who is going to work with you directly and who will ultimately create your space – so competence, creativity, and communication skills are critical.
One of the best indicators of competency is training and certifications. We all know that there are plenty of people who have enough experience and basic design training to do a good job at K&B design, but for your project, don’t you want THE BEST? Look for a designer who is certified by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). To become certified by this association, a designer must have 5+ years of kitchen and bath design experience. In addition, the designer must also complete 60 hours of NKBA education or have an approved college education, as well as pass numerous comprehensive examinations. The benefit of designers having this sort of education is that they are able to tackle the technicalities of a complex design project and are well versed in the specific characteristics of many design styles.
Along with education and experience, another key element you should look for in a great designer is creativity. Creativity is an inherent skill that enables your designer to take clients’ ideas and transform them into a space that perfectly suits their taste and lifestyle. A surefire way to judge a designer’s creative ability is to browse through past work. Look for projects in a variety of styles as well as projects that include innovative cabinetry solutions. Your findings should give you a clear indication that this designer or company would be a good fit for you and your project.
Lastly, when you’re looking at hire a kitchen and bath designer, communication skills and overall compatibility are critical, and these are best gauged in a one-on-one meeting. Communication is key, and trust us, the last thing you want during your project is to feel neglected or to be stuck in a continuous game of phone tag with your designer. Make sure that you get along well with your designer so that you feel comfortable bringing up ideas or concerns. You want to genuinely enjoy the time you spend time together.
A well-designed, full-service showroom is a key element of a K&B company worth hiring! The benefits of a showroom are extensive: In a top-tier showroom, you can see and be inspired by a variety of creative room vignettes, learn about cabinetry, countertops, and more, and of course, make selections for your project.
The best part of a showroom experience is being able to tap into your senses. As you physically walk through kitchen vignettes of various styles and learn about what makes them so special, your senses are awakened. You may even feel a little rush of excitement as you envision a similar space in your own home! And when it comes to making selections for your project, it is so much easier to make decisions when you can hold the samples in your hand and physically see how they pair with each other. Seeing, touching, and experiencing elements of a quality showroom reinforces your confidence in the products you have chosen for your project and the team behind the scenes.
There are, of course, many excellent kitchen and bath dealers without a significant showroom presence. The lack of a showroom should not deter you from learning more about the business, especially if other indicators are positive. You will have to weigh the value of a full-service showroom against the other considerations and make a personal decision.
For those K&B businesses with a showroom presence, the quality of that showroom can tell you something about the company as a whole. The showroom should be clean, well-organized, and uncluttered. Vignettes should be creative and on-trend. You should have access to knowledgeable staff to assist and answer questions. A warm, welcoming, and inspiring showroom experience is important, and that experience is likely to offer a glimpse of the kind of service you could expect as a client.
3. Partner Relationships
When researching a K&B firm for your project, your focus is primarily on design. But how does your beautifully-designed kitchen get installed? We can tell you that it’s definitely not going to be your designer with a tool belt and a nail gun!
The installation of your dream space takes a unified team of people, with each member possessing different strengths and areas of expertise, working together to make your vision a reality. The quality of this team is integral to your project’s success, which makes a design company’s relationships with their partners a huge factor to consider when hiring someone for your kitchen or bathroom project.
Though information about partner relationships is slightly harder to find on Google, it’s easy to figure out. Look for how long the design company has worked with their partners. If they have repeatedly utilized a contractor on project after project, chances are that contractor is doing a great job. Feel free to inquire about a K&B firm’s partner relationships and the quality of those partners when you meet with them. It’s not rude to ask, it’s your project after all!
All in all, you should be paired with an installer that is experienced, dependable, and has the skills necessary for your project. This team should work together seamlessly in order to stick to your timeline, avoid mistakes, and most of all, give you the kitchen or bathroom of your dreams.
4. Project Management
There are a lot of factors that go into managing a remodel or new build. Between generating a design, forming materials lists, ordering cabinetry, and supervising deliveries and install, you need your design team to be an organized and efficient in project management. We can’t stress enough how important this is in keeping your project running smoothly, on time, and with minimal mistakes.
When meeting with a prospective design firm, make sure to inquire about their process and what steps they take to ensure that their projects are completed smoothly and successfully. A detailed process list will give you a clear idea of exactly how your project is going to run from start to finish. Don’t forget to ask about troubleshooting and problem solving. If your project manager sees an issue, how is it addressed and remedied?
Lastly, look for other telling information such whether the firm is able to do projects remotely. If a firm can successfully complete a project from afar, working with a remote install team, chances are they are very skilled in project management!
5. Customer Experience
This should go without saying, but you definitely should research a prospective firm’s online ratings and reviews. This is crucial information and will help you gain insight into client experience and what went well in projects… or what went poorly. A beautiful kitchen is great, but it’s not worth months of pulling your hair out in frustration because of poor communications or unaddressed issues. As a paying client, you should have an enjoyable experience from initial consultation all the way to project completion.
One of the most comprehensive resources for home design reviews is Houzz. You can also find a company’s reviews on Google Reviews, Yelp, or even directly on the company’s website. Websites often post past client testimonials, which speak volumes about the customer experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from past clients.
You’ll want to inquire about the customer experience during several stages of the design and installation process. For example, a firm may give clients a great experience during the design phase, but their experience with troubleshooting or punch-list completion may leave something to be desired.
As we stated in the first point, when you meet with a prospective designer, pay attention to how you connect with each other personally as well as professionally. You should have a comfortable rapport with each other and have confidence that your designer understands your style as well as your project goals. Look for an indication that your designer is genuinely excited about your project and the prospect of working with you. This sets the stage for a positive customer experience.
There are many complex and often overlapping factors that come together to determine your overall customer experience. You may not be able to anticipate all of them, but due diligence when selecting your design firm will certainly help set you up for a positive experience and a successful project outcome.
6. Touch Points (the little stuff)
There is nothing better than getting a free scone at a coffee shop, a check-in from the doctor’s office, or a complimentary tire rotation when all you went in for was an oil change. These are the little things that people and businesses do to make your day a little brighter and show they care. Similar gestures of thoughtfulness and care should also come from your K&B design firm.
Touch points don’t always mean “free stuff” but they are specific ways a company expresses its attentiveness to their clients. Touch points are embedded in the culture of the firm and come naturally out of genuine care and concern for their clients and the successful outcome of their projects. Touchpoints might be as simple as a phone call to give you an update on the status of your cabinetry order or a follow-up call after the project is complete.
These small details often speak volumes about the relationship that the firm builds with its clients. Touch points are definitely a factor worth exploring when you are looking for a design company.
At Studio M, we take pride in our talented designers, our beautiful showroom, and the relationships we build with our partners. We support our clients throughout the installation process and ensure that they have an outstanding customer experience. Lastly, we pay attention to the little things, offering many touch points along the way. Our intention is to build lasting relationships with our clients as we provide them with beautiful new spaces that they will enjoy for years to come. To learn more about Studio M or to start a project with us, stop by our showroom or contact us!