For customers of Consolidated Kitchens & Fireplaces, based in Omaha, Nebraska, buying a countertop is more than just a transaction – it is an experience. At least, says Greg Horn, General Manager of CKF, that is the goal.
“We recognize the importance of brand integrity,” Horn explains.
“We go to great lengths to differentiate ourselves from the competition. We pay attention to our presentation in the sales process, how we present ourselves at template time and our communications with the consumer as the tops are being built. And, certainly, we pay a lot of attention to the installation side – the cleanliness, the presentation and how our installers conduct themselves before, during and after the installation.”
Two Types Of Customers
The customer experience is so important, in fact, that the company even has a full time brand manager. Her job is twofold:
1. Communicate with the customer and obtain feedback about how well the company is living up to expectations, and
2. Interact with internal customers – the sales force and all company employees – to create a positive work environment, one in which employees are excited to come to work every day.
CKF has 200 employees scattered across three locations (Omaha, Lincoln and Des Moines). In addition to fabricating between 5,000 and 6,000 sq ft of natural stone and quartz per week (CKF is also a Cambria Lexus Partner), the company carries eight lines of cabinetry, is a Tyvek distributor and sells fireplaces.
Its customer base includes new construction, lumber yards, independent kitchen and bath dealers, commercial general contractors and residential retail. The company also fabricates Cambria for a select group of other fabricators.
It’s a large company with many moving parts and its success, Horn intones, depends on really great communication.
“We have a tremendous amount of internal meetings within the management team,” he says. “There is a lot of communication and team building. When we have a disconnect with a customer, we make sure that we take care of the consumer and we identify why the disconnect happened. We use that information to modify whatever we need to do with our processes to eliminate it from happening again.”
Horn cites the example of a sales person in Des Moines closing a deal that utilizes three slabs of a certain color of granite.
Because slabs are inventoried in Omaha, the company uses Slabsmith to show color and layout of the slabs. It also uses the program to keep track of inventory levels. In this case, however, the three slabs sold in Des Moines were also sold in Omaha the same day.
“What happened was there was about a 30 minute time gap between when the other sales person sold it and those slabs got tagged by our moving team,” Horn explains. “We identify issues like that in our meetings and look for solutions to the process so that it doesn’t happen again. It is a constant work in progress.”
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