The managing director of Hampshire-based kitchen business Searle and Taylor, Darren Taylor, looks back to 1984 when the first issue of kbbreview was published and asks whether the industry has evolved
For my first column of 2018 and for this auspicious 400th issue, I asked to see the first ever copy of kbbreview to compare and contrast the news then with now.
I was intrigued by the dramatic headline, where a customer literally resorted to kidnapping their dealer in order to get money back for poor service. Good grief! These days, no one need take such drastic measures as people can cause far more damage immediately online.
Almost all – not all, sadly – kitchen retailers are bona fide, offer a fantastic service and their management and staff probably work 10 times harder than in 1984 to achieve positive recognition, because of social media and the fact that we’re all now online in some form.
There is no doubt that we all need positive customer reviews, whether on Google, Houzz or other sources that allow people to write great feedback about you and your business. I have been privileged throughout my career to receive testimonials from clients that have taken my breath away with their lovely comments.
They have made me think that for every sleepless night, supplier nightmare and thing that goes wrong, it is all worth it because me and my team have made someone’s home and life better for the long term because of their new kitchen.
Most of us are on Houzz, which allows you to send out a request to your clients asking for a testimonial – and, hopefully, they respond and write some lovely words about how wonderful you were and how great the design is.
Last year, we did this and sent a general request to all recent purchasers. The online response was great and very gratifying – apart from one, which was still nice, but it had a little bit of an odd edge to it. Not quite realising what she was doing, my client suggested that I should stay in touch better and visit more often. The client was actually my mother! I am pleased to report that she is very happy with her new kitchen, if not with her very busy son…
That said, I am keen to hear about your experiences with Houzz and whether it has delivered the leads you are seeking? I note with interest that they have, without asking, changed a lot of business profile pages. They have replaced company logos with pictures of the people that work there and now my page has a delightful photo of me on it.
I like to think that brand recognition is important, so I should like to have kept my logo on the page. Has this happened to you and has it worked for you? I’m concerned that there is now just too much ‘noise’ on Houzz, so how do you get seen above the rest? Is it a case of just paying for all the extra bolt-ons that Houzz are keen to sell you to enhance your listing? Please e-mail the editor and let us know.
Ebony and ivory
When discussing the idea of looking at the first ever front cover of kbbreview to compare and contrast the news from 34 years ago with what is happening now in the industry, I did secretly hope that it wouldn’t be a case of same shit, different day!
The jaunty play on words for the Milan ’84 EuroCucina review headline of course alludes to the awful ‘Black and White Minstrel Show’ – a musical concept that has, thankfully, been consigned to the past. Meanwhile, the big news then was that black, white and all shades of monochrome were really, really popular – and 34 years later, they remain um, really, really popular.
Matt white remain the best-selling modern kitchens for me, but nowadays there are countless shades of white to get excited about. Light grey through to the darkest slate grey will continue into 2018, as we have little choice to avoid it, given the latest brochures featuring endless handleless grey kitchen sets after last September’s German Kitchen Mile. Yes, we are clearly really boring. However, it does mean that my hair colour seems to be continually in fashion, although I am getting lighter grey as the years progress and I see that kitchens are getting darker.
I do remember the 1980s being full of glitz, glamour and bling. Back then, I was on-trend and I owned, and wore with delight, luminous orange and green odd socks below grey stay-pressed ‘drainpipe’ trousers. Move forward to 2018 and from copper and brass, gold is the big new colour in kitchens, but it is moving so fast it may be gone as quickly as it came (I hope).
Meanwhile, our traditional kitchens are experiencing some kind of colour renaissance and are moving from grey to ELO blue – ‘Hello Mr Blue Sky’, goodbye grey.
Let’s read this article in 400 issues’ time and find out if anyone was actually mental enough to buy a lime green kitchen with a shiny gold tap?
You’ve come a long way, baby
Continuing with the theme of musical headlines, I just wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate Tim, Becky, Andy and all the team at Taylist for producing their 400th issue. When the first kbbreview was published, there was no online version, no e-mail and copy was likely to have been sent by post pigeon, courier, telex or phoned in. Looking at the first issue, one thing is certain – the design of the magazine has come a long way since then, so well done to head of design, Peter Davies and his team, who rarely get a mention in print. And thank you for having me as your columnist.
I was just 11 years old back in October 1984 with a Cindy Crawford poster on my bedroom wall. At that time, little did I know that just seven years later I would set up the Searle and Taylor kitchen business at the naive age of just 18.
It is very therapeutic to be able to get a few things off my chest and to think that the odd KBB specialist enjoys reading my rants and occasional helpful advice. It fills me with happiness and helps me to realise that I can make a very small difference to the very complicated world of KBB retail, which can sometimes cause misery, but equally be very rewarding when we do get it right.
As funny as it is, I am relieved that we don’t ever see crazy headlines like ‘cheated customer kidnaps kitchen dealer’, thank goodness. Although, where is Vance…?