Retailers choose to stay appointment only after restrictions are lifted

When restrictions are fully lifted on July 19, two top retailers want to keep with the appointment-only system as it ensures customers are serious about buying, helps designers feel valued and speeds up the design process.

Richie Hanley, a designer from Ability Kitchens in Chester, and Jo Geddes, a senior designer at Kitchens by JS Geddes in Kilmarnock, spoke on the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast about keeping their showrooms by appointment only and how to work in the new normal.

Both retailers have worked on an appointment-only basis since they were allowed to reopen after the first lockdown and will keep the system in place once restrictions are lifted. Both are also experiencing steady footfall, with many customers still wanting to book appointments in the showroom. However, if customers turn up unannounced to the showroom, they will not be turned away.

Geddes explained how this system works for JS Geddes: “Although we are totally for the appointment only system, we will not reject someone that comes to the showroom. We are very lucky that we are not a high-traffic studio. We are not a place that people drop into because of our location. We don’t tend to have casual browsers come.

“We are encouraging appointment-only or phone ahead, which most clients are doing, but there has been a handful of people who have come unannounced, but we won’t turn them away. It is striking a balance between what we want and what is realistic for the business.”

Hanley agreed and believes that appointment-only working gives customers a better level of service as designers can focus on one project. He said: “It is key for us as a retailer that we can spend more time focusing on the clients. So we have got on an appointment-only system, rather than spending two hours on someone who has wandered in that we never see again.”

The average design appointment at Ability Kitchens is around two-and-a-half hours, which includes time for the team to clean the showroom. Kitchens by JS Geddes has meetings that last around an hour to an hour-and-a-half. When the client phones to book the appointment, they assess the budget and the type of design they are looking for. 

One reason Ability Kitchens and Kitchens by JS Geddes will be staying by appointment only is that the clients are more engaged at this time, meaning that a lot more decisions about the kitchen are made and a designer’s time is not wasted.

Hanley has also seen that a more focused appointment even helps speed up the design and decision-making process. He said: “They have a clearer understanding of what they are looking for, and it was up to us as designers to put that into practice and put it on CAD. It did mean that we were turning jobs around a lot quicker. We were turning jobs around two or three weeks quicker than if we had been by the previous system”

Another bonus with this system is that the clients come in having done more research and are better informed to start a serious conversation with designers. Geddes agrees and says she has seen clients come better equipped with information about what designs they want and what appliances they need. They even do more research on the company itself.

Not only are customers more prepared, but they also value the designer’s time. Geddes explains: “We have striven to be valued as designers and as a business. I think that the consumer doesn’t always value kitchen designers – we’ve always struggled to have that value from them in the same way that architects or structural engineers do. Having this appointment-only system was a real step forward in getting value into our service. It also put a lot more onus on the client to be more loyal to us.”

Listen to the full discussion on working by-appointment-only on the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast. Listen using the player below or by clicking on this link.

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