Marketing Cabinet Design Work

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Ideas for marketing drawing services to shops in need. July 28, 2004

I recently opened a cabinet design and consulting company that utilizes both Cabinet Vision Solid and Cabinet Ware. I have been in the cabinet business for over thirteen years and know the time constraints that design work eats up in a day. I also understand the debt one has to go through in order to purchase one of these design programs. So I thought the premise of the company was a seller, however I am not receiving the response I was initially hoping for. Do you have any ideas how I can market my company to cabinet shops, or can you offer any insight as to why owners are not jumping on this idea?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor E:
I think you have the right idea, but unfortunately the manufacturing world is not ready for this concept yet. Either they are stuck in the past or they are working in the present. You are just ahead of your time.

Maybe if you can hang in there, they will get into enough trouble to come around and beg you to help them out, but basically I don't think they are ready just yet. Get your own clients and choose who will build for you.

From contributor B:
Where are you located? We are in Nova Scotia and outsource our drawings all the time.

From the original questioner:
My company is located in Austin, TX. Currently I provide drawings and consulting work for four shops in the Austin area but want to expand to ten shops. The software is so versatile in its ability to email to any shop.

Contributor B, you said you outsourced your drawings. What could I do to market my company to various shops? I currently run a one day lead time in returning layouts, plan views, 3D renderings, and cutsheets; so quality, speed and service are covered.

From contributor J:
Maybe if your knowledge and experience is versatile enough you can work it another way. Propose your services to who needs the cabinets - the clients, the customers, the builders. Put projects together, get them ready for the manufacturers and priced out for the clients. I don't know if that can attract you, but it might be something to think about. Fee structures are different, but they can be worked out.

From contributor K:
I think contributor J is on to something there...

You want to create related revenue streams for your business, so if one is soft financially, the others can support it.

You say that you've been in the industry for 13 years... are you a CKD (Certified Kitchen Designer)? If not, look into it at the NKBA website. Also, I would hook up with some local custom shops and refer business for a referral fee. You not only provide them with a referral but drawings along with a cut-list, while adding an additional revenue stream to your business.

For consumers, the angle you could take is - (headline) "Looking to update your kitchen and don't know where to start? Know what it looks like BEFORE investing thousands of dollars!"

(Main Descriptive) We are XYZ Company and our goal is to guide and help you through the design of your kitchen, bathroom (whatever project). With so many choices in today's exploding kitchen/bathroom remodeling market, it is easy to become overwhelmed at all your options and choose the wrong product and/or design for your home. Your home is unique and so are your tastes. That's where we come in... XYZ Company specializes in matching your dreams and desires to the products and services that will fit your personality and home. Our professional design services include:

- On-site measuring for accuracy
- Detailed drawings provided to you in full-color and in 3-D (Lighting, textures, colors, design, etc.) so you can see your project BEFORE it is manufactured.
- Measurement confirmation services
- (continue with your benefits)

Why lose hours of travel and getting confused at all the options? We bring it all to you, along with over a decade of design expertise!

For more information, visit our website at

Every 100th visitor receives a free set of drawings! (draws interest and hits to your website and also is a great way to start a referral chain - be sure to field this cost into your regular pricing to cover your costs. Along with the testimonials you'll receive, I would also have before and afters along with the 3-D version in the same pose for effect)

(Company Tag Line and toll-free telephone number at the end of page)


Now for the custom shop, I think you may be approaching it from the wrong angle. If you came to me, or sent a flyer, just stating that you offer this service it would not pique my interest. If, however, you approached it from a perspective of saving me money, I would read/listen to what you have to say.

I have no idea what you are charging for these services, but present it this way...

(headline) - "TIME and MONEY - it's something all business owners are looking for more of...

Let me introduce you to our company, XYZ company. We provide services which give you more of both TIME and MONEY! Let me explain...

Having been in the custom cabinetry business for over 13 years, we know full well the time constraints and profits that design work eats up in a day. We also understand the costs one has to go through in order to purchase on of many design programs out there (to the tune of thousands of dollars of your working capital), along with the pain and additional costs of integrating these software packages into your business. For most, it is either not financially feasible or is just plain not worth it, but most custom cabinet companies continue to struggle with it, as they recognize the technological changes that have been occurring in the industry, and more importantly, that you never get a second chance to make a first impression...

That's where XYZ company comes in... We alleviate this struggle by providing fixed-priced computer design services which provide you with more of both TIME and MONEY, and include:

- Drawings (3-D, Elevation, Overhead, electrical, plumbing, etc.)
- Accurate cut-lists
- E-Mail and hard copy productions of your design (or put our design experience to work and let us design it for you! Just provide us with room dimensions, and we'll do all the work, from start to finish!)
- Materials needed for your project.
- Materials costing breakdown (some simple numbers is all we need).
- 24-hour turn-around!
- More professional presentation, turning your potential prospects into real customers.
- Increased close ratio, as your customers will have the benefit of seeing their project in full color. If they can see it, they can see themselves OWNING it. Couple our services with your proven craftmanship, and watch your bottom line INCREASE!

Like you, we also specialize in providing custom solutions for our customers. We have different investment levels for your specific needs. These include:

- All of the above services can be priced out individually, or,
- We can provide you with a fixed price option for every project, which you can mark-up for a profit, and include this cost in your customers quote, or,
- Provide you with a monthly contract (volume pricing) for X amount of packages per month, or,
- We can custom tailor a design solution for your company.

Your first impression may be that this is just another cost you have to absorb. However, consider the following:

(here, I would juxtapose how much time the average shop spends on generating all the drawings and cut-lists, etc. x their shop-rate, vs. how much you would charge for the same with a 24-hour turn-around)

Now, not only do you save REAL MONEY using our services, but you can also INCREASE profits by using the TIME SAVED you would have spent on the above to FREE you up to do what you do best!

In our technology-driven world, customers expect a different level of service. Now you can cost-effectively provide it to them, and INREASE your PROFIT!

Just think of the impact it would have on your prospect if you were to show them this (example of 3-D version) vs. this (hand-drawn example).

So, from a business perspective, IT JUST MAKES CENTS! (well, actually DOLLARS!)

- Improved customer service!
- A design product you can sell and easily incorporate into your portfolio, WITHOUT the loss of TIME and MONEY necessary to purchase the software.
- Free-up more TIME you would've spent on the mundane tasks, which allows you to INCREASE your PROFITS by focusing on building rather than losing time sitting behind a computer.
- Etc., etc., etc. (I think you get the idea)

CALL TODAY! at 1-800-2DESIGN and we'll work together to custom tailor a program that matches your companies needs.

TEST US OUT! Try our services and see for yourself the impact professional design services has on your business and your customer!

Anyway, this should get you started... good luck! Hope it helps!

P.S. - I still think you should incorporate selling the actual cabinets/countertops into your program. It would dramatically increase your bottom line.

From contributor B:
Here's why we have someone do our drawings.. As a custom cabinet shop people feel that having us do drawings should be free and they are not willing to pay for our time, but these same people will pay someone else if that's what they do for a living. So we send the client to our designer, they pay the designer, and if we get the job, then we deduct the price of the drawings from our estimate. One other benefit for us is this helps weed out tire kickers because they will not spend the money if they are not really serious.

From contributor E:
May I ask what software are you using?

From contributor T:
Contributor J and K are on the beam. Find a mailing list company and get a list of cabinet shops, and maybe of architects. Buy one that includes phone numbers. Call them, ask if you can do a marketing survey on them, and ask seemingly-oblique questions like "What software do you use to generate your drawings and cutlists?"

"What percentage of your sales price do you allocate to generating drawings and cutlists before the job goes to the shop?" "What services would an outside firm have to offer for you to consider outsourcing your drawings and cutlists?"

Don't offer them anything or try to sell them anything during this call. Just gather data. When you're done with this (call 10% or so of your mailing list), tabulate the results. You're going to find some common "buttons" (responses) in doing this.

Write a promotional piece that uses these found buttons, and mail it to all the cabinet shops on your mailing list, maybe 20% of your total list each week. Every week, no fail.

We're a custom cabinet shop and we've been doing this and only this for a very long time and have all the work we want.

Very important - do not mix your publics. Do one survey for cabinet shops, another separate one for architects, another for homeowners, if you decide to go that route (we don't - it's not cost-effective).

This may seem obvious, but I'll say it anyway. Define for yourself exactly what it is you are able to deliver, figure out who your publics may be and how the things you can deliver would apply to each, survey them as above, market to each public separately based only on your survey.

This is a powerful, proven and cost-effective approach to selling yourself. Good luck.

From contributor E:
Thanks contributor T. Your post is very informative.

It is very difficult to come up with some sort of price list for CAD drawings. I have always had a published price list for hand drawings that served me well for a long time but now with CAD, that is all out the window and it just doesn't apply anymore. Does anyone have ideas on how to set up a pricing schedule for computer assisted drawings? I, have put a lot of thought into this and I gotten nowhere. It seems that all of the old schedules for time management do not apply anymore to CAD drawings.

From contributor P:
"It seems that all of the old schedules for time management do not apply anymore to CAD drawings."

Is that really true?

I would just track times on the different types of jobs and come up with a unit of measure for each type of drawing.

In the past when I have subcontracted the drawings out, I was able to get a feel for how long the drawings should take and generally the draftsman agreed with me and he would be close. Also I developed a trust in him and really didn't worry about pricing too much.

From contributor E:
Currently I ask to see the scope of the work needed to be drawn and only then I give a firm price but I am at a loss to give estimates of different scenarios or for presentation drawings.