Designers on commission will never be respected, claims retailer

Designers in the KBB industry will never be treated with the same respect as architects and interior designers while they are regarded by customers purely as salespeople, one kitchen retailer has claimed.

Stuart Henry Kitchens managing director and designer Russell Buckley has expressed his frustration at commission-only pay schemes, claiming that the focus becomes solely on closing the sale rather than getting the design right for the client.

He went on to say that he often spends more time undoing what potential clients have been told by salespeople than he does designing their kitchen.

“There are very few kitchen, bedroom and bathroom designers who earn commission-only or small basic plus commission, who can say with hand on heart that their primary interest in the design/sales process is getting the right design and product for their potential client,” said Buckley. “Not only that, but their approach to after-sales too, because their focus is on getting the sale and getting paid the commission. They then do not have time to spend on following up with any customer service issues that may arise.

“When the focus is to sell to earn, there can only be one interest for the sales designer and that is their earning potential and that targets are met. This is why you see adverts for KBB jobs stating, ‘sales designers required – no experience necessary’.”

Buckley also refuses to employ anyone on a commission basis and feels that those who believe it keeps staff “hungry” for success are only interested in making money.

He added: “Of course, all the companies that offer commission need to generate more sales, and the only way they can do this is by advertising ridiculous discounts to draw people in,‎ which in turn makes a mockery of the KBB industry in the eyes of the customer. Because we all know they are overinflated prices so they can lure people into the spider’s web and, of course, the spider is the commission-hungry ‘designer’.”

Stephen Sidkin, a partner at corporate law firm Fox Williams, has also warned that having designers/salespeople on commission-only pay schemes may mean they then qualify as ‘commercial agents’ under the Commercial Agents Regulations.

As agents, they will enjoy rights over and above a simple employee, such as the right to compensation (or indemnity) on termination.

Sidkin concluded: “So, for those thinking of making their designers employees, there may be an added incentive.”

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