Jim Geddes

We created our own courses

Jim Geddes (pictured), managing director of Kitchens by JS Geddes in Kilmarnock, says he firmly believes in training, but has never been able to find any local courses that satisfy their needs

We have ‘doers’ in this industry, we have followers, and we have the ‘someone should do something about it’ group.

So hats off to Renée Mascari and to Uwe Hanneck for trying to push forward with training and being ‘doers’. But is it enough and are their hands not only tied, but bound together with strong rope?

Yes, the industry needs to have training, but unless we have a much stronger voice to be heard to achieve this, then their efforts will be in vain. Personally, we have never been able to find any local college courses to satisfy our thirst for training.

So what did we do? We created our own. Every year, all members of our team have a structured programme created for the individual. They all receive a schedule of training and the dates it is to be completed by. They learn the basics of each other’s jobs and challenges, which leads to a better business understanding. This suits us and helps our team develop and reach their own goals.

But how can the industry move forward? For a start, the voice in the industry to make this happen needs to be stronger, with the obvious voice being the KBSA – as the main body for the kitchen industry. But – and it’s a huge but – there are not nearly enough members to give the KBSA any sort of clout. If the membership doesn’t increase, then it’s left to individuals to attempt to drive it forward with little help from the industry.

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Much as I am a great believer in training, do we really think one or two courses are going to resolve the issue of lack of training?

This is a massive industry, with little or no training available, and I, like many others, landed in the kitchen industry by default. We learned as we progressed and used our backgrounds as a starting block for progression.

There are no college or university courses available to learn kitchen design, surveying, purchasing and fitting, so perhaps this explains the reasons for ‘salespeople’ being more common than designers. Yes, we need good designers, but don’t you think that unless a designer can ‘sell’ their project, how will the company survive? We need to sell products, we have to be commercial. Good salespeople are as much a priority as good designers and having someone with the ability to design well, and sell well, is a rare talent. This is where a good ‘design assistant’, working with the senior designer/salesperson, can benefit the company. The design assistant designs and the salesperson sells.

Which brings me to pay structures. I believe in a good basic salary and commission bonus. Staff should be properly rewarded for the late nights they frequently have to do.

If Renée or Uwe want to arrange a regional discussion on training, I would certainly be up for taking part.

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