‘Employing a designer who can’t sell is pointless,’ says retailer

A leading retailer has hit out at pay structures for designers, claiming it is pointless employing a designer who can’t sell or a salesperson who can’t design.

Darren Taylor (pictured), managing director of Hampshire-based kitchen studio Searle and Taylor, which supplies furniture from brands including Poggenpohl, Intuo and Ewe, claimed that independent retailers need to be “profit centres”.

He added that designers should be paid a fair basic salary, along with a good commission.

Taylor said he uses an administrative process called a GP (gross profit) sheet, which details the selling price of a kitchen and the costs to buy in all products – retail price, less cost of product, equals gross profit. A percentage of this is then paid as commission.

“I have seen all sorts of costs on GP sheets from other businesses, such as delivery, rubbish clearance, designer’s petrol and bank charges etc, but I believe that the ability for designers to make commission should always be fair to all parties,” he said. “Other companies that I know of that follow a similar protocol are among the most profitable in our industry, and they retain their staff for years. It works for me.

“We should not be ashamed of making a profit and the team behind you should be rewarded only when profit is made,” added Taylor. “I advocate a healthy mix of salary and a commission based on percentage of profit, depending on how much of the process the designer can deliver on.

“To me, there is no point employing the best designer if they cannot efficiently and assuredly present and sell their work. That said, there is no point employing the best salesperson if they then create a totally inappropriate design, however much the client might buy into it and them.

“I work with a team of designers that understand the sales process and who can also present a stunning design. They are able to sell the ‘concept’ or, as we know it, close the deal.”

He explained that while larger independents may demarcate various responsibilities of the job role among a team, he likes to keep it simple.

“Most of all, I want my team to develop a close working relationship with the customer from the moment they walk in the showroom,” he said. “Our clients are not only buying cabinets, worktops and appliances, they are also buying the designer’s talents. This is worth a lot to me, and that’s why I believe in paying a fair basic salary, combined with a good commission as part of the remuneration package.”

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