KBB Leaders: Advice For A Successful 2022

Posted by anthillsoftwareleeds in Insights - Last updated

2022 is here. And with it’s dawn comes a raft of new opportunities to explore, and fresh challenges to overcome.

Question is, how to take advantage of the opportunities? And how to tackle the challenges to make it a roaring success?

To help you and your business get off to the best possible start, Anthill spoke with industry leaders from across the KBB world. The aim being to gather advice, hints and tips on succeeding in 2022.

We gleaned their insights on two key focus areas…

What Advice Would You Give To A KBB Organisation For A Successful 2022?

What Will Be A Major KBB Industry Focus In 2022 & How Do You Plan On Approaching It?

So whether it’s advice for the year ahead, or insight on overcoming your main challenges, there’s something here for everyone involved in the KBB sector.

Thanks to all our participants for sharing their wisdom. Let’s make 2022 KBB’s best year yet.

What Advice Would You Give To A KBB Organisation For A Successful 2022?

Embrace Teamwork

Stephen Johnson, Managing Director, Quooker UK

Over the last couple of years, this industry has experienced every form of complexity that could arise. What with Brexit, and supply chain issues, or Covid-19, with its resultant trading restrictions.

When it comes to planning and future-proofing our businesses, we must take these experiences, learn from them and recognise they are going to present more challenges for 2022.

If the last 18 months has taught us anything, it is that there is no benefit to working in isolation.

Manufacturers, dealers and retailers need to work together. Teamwork is paramount.

At Quooker we have a very simple work mantra. Work harder and do better than yesterday. With the objective to beat the previous day, however challenging it was, you can meet every new obstacle head on with fresh enthusiasm and renewed determination.

For 2022, our focus at Quooker is going to be working hard to maintain good stock supplies, hold our prices and give world-class customer service. In the spirit of looking out for one another, we would recommend for others to do the same.

Focus On Service

Ben Setterfield – Director, Bathroom Eleven

Regardless of the year, the best piece of advice is to focus on service, avoid discounting and spend time thinking about how you can stand out from the crowd. Primarily, by adding value to your overall service.

As KBB retailers, we all sell similar products. There has to be a reason why a client would want to use you.

We offer a 5 year warranty on every installation and make sure clients understand the value in having such a great warranty; especially when they ask for a discount.

With the project managed installation, the full backing of the showroom, a designer on tap throughout the project for the installation team and the client alike; we simply say, should we discount, we couldn’t offer the same warranty,

Curate A Positive Experience

Helen Lord – Founder/Director, Used Kitchen Exchange

My advice for 2022 is to fully embrace the power of emotional marketing.

The business that embraces and imbeds core values such as sustainability, authenticity and community will differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd.

We all know that buying a kitchen or bathroom is probably one of the most emotive purchases a family will make for their home. So it makes perfect sense to focus on making them ‘feel good’.

Especially about what they are buying and who they are buying from.

Ensure A Sound Financial Footing

Liam Hopper – Managing Director, The Kitchen Group

After the past couple of years, you must make sure your banking facilities, overdrafts, and finance arrangements are up-to date and strong enough to ride out 3 bad months.

A great place to start is to capitalise on all clients and go above and beyond to give them something to remember the showroom by when they leave.

Your showroom is your masterpiece.

Clean it, clear all drawers, decorate it and ensure there are never any boxes, appliances or packaging visible.

Furthermore, ensure you effectively monitor a real deposit order book, keeping in mind your holding deposits, 30% deposits and balances. Now you can see what’s retained within the business, with cash due in at set stages.

Last of all, buy better.

Don’t be important to a particular supplier. Ensure you have a smaller chain that “get” your work and be loyal to them.

Embed Quality Processes

John Endeacott – Founder & CEO, Anthill

Perhaps above anything else, it’s vitally important to embed best practice processes which you can scale as your operation grows.

Without effective customer processes, you can’t guarantee the levels of service required to protect your brand and avoid losing business to the competition.

By digitising your sales process, you will make sure no customer is left behind and that every prospect is maximised.

The savvy retailers will be monitoring customer processes to understand what is working and importantly, what isn’t. From marketing campaign ROI to virtual appointment performance and average remedial costs, broken by fitter or designer.

Process is defined by your version of best practice. Success in 2022 will be a natural consequence of introducing such an approach across every customer interaction.

Harness Business Intelligence

Tom Reynolds – Chief Executive, Bathroom Manufacturers Association

One of the side effects of the pandemic and lockdowns has been that the public are thinking differently about the value of home.

This has resulted in an uptick in home improvements over the last year with no sign that demand is dissipating as we enter 2022.

To make the most of this interest in home improvement, KBB organisations need to navigate unprecedented supply-side difficulties.

Raw material shortages, mandatory short-time working in China, unreliability in shipping and the UK haulage shortages are coinciding.

Partners in the value chain – logistics providers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers – need to share the best possible information with one another.

BMA is playing our part by gathering intelligence on market conditions and sharing that insight with our members. We’re also stepping up our collaboration with fellow representative bodies, and remain committed to the Product Availability Group led by BMF and CPA.

Plan & Prepare

Maria Challis – Director, James James Kitchens

Be realistic! It might sound a little cliché but preparation has, and always will be, key for businesses.

Especially in light of the challenges we have faced in 2021 with our appliance shortages and supply chain issues. This situation will continue to be somewhat problematic going into 2022.

However, with some strategic planning, this can be alleviated.

By working alongside our well established, trusted partners, and managing expectations with our clients, we can at least face a more realistic approach.

Work within the remit of what is available rather than hoping and praying all will be well or getting frustrated at a lack of options or long lead times.

It is best practice to be aware of what we can have. Therefore assuring a pipeline of product, rather than none at all.

Promote Sustainable Products

Yvonne Orgill, Managing Director, Unified Water Label

KBB organisations should be prepared for COVID restrictions to continue in 2022 and take what they have learnt from 2021 into next year. We may see travel restrictions tightened forcing more families to stay at home for their holidays again.

If this happens then the upturn in new kitchen and bathroom business could well continue. This boost in business is already strong for the first quarter of 2022, as homeowners want to upgrade the homes that they now spend much more time in.

Those that are buying will be looking for products that enhance their time at home and also meet their expectations in terms of performance and sustainability.

KBB businesses should look at providing clear messages about their offering, highlighting the benefits and efficiencies of their products.

Sustainability is now at the forefront of politicians’ minds and, as such, any new regulations will impact on the KBB sector.

It will be important to keep abreast of these changes and to communicate well with consumers so that they understand the impact of the choices they make when buying and using KBB products.

What Will Be A Major KBB Industry Focus In 2022 & How Do You Plan On Approaching It?

Plug The Skills Gap

Damian Walters – CEO, BiKBBI

The first half of the New Year will see further interruptions and delays to the supply chain, causing more short-term disruption for the sector.

Yet, the most significant challenge for the KBB industry in 2022 and beyond remains the skills gap crisis. 

The ramifications of the skills gap is not as simple as consumers having to wait longer and installers having to work harder.

The real threat is the certainty of unskilled, and sometimes unscrupulous opportunists taking advantage of workforce shortage. In turn, this will cause long-term damage to the reputation of the industry.

The lack of qualified, experienced and compliant installers is not a problem for the installation sector alone. It’s a problem that will impact all areas of the industry; manufacturers, distributors, retailers and installers alike.

Therefore it is vital that the whole industry take ownership of the challenge. We must come together to support the efforts of BiKBBI and our partners in 2022 as we develop the future generation of installers for the KBB sector.

With the Level 2 Fitted Interiors Apprenticeship we have made strides towards the long-term solution for the labour shortage, but there is so much more to do. 

Effective Digital Transformation

John Endeacott – Founder & CEO, Anthill

Technology’s influence is only going to grow throughout 2022 and beyond. As such, organisations across the KBB industry should be looking at implementing an effective digital transformation.

KBB businesses are already operating under a tremendous strain on resources. Harnessing the best available technologies can help alleviate these pressures and improve efficiencies.

With the potential for ongoing restrictions affecting businesses beyond their control, being able to maximise internal operations provides a stronger base to respond.

Aligning disparate teams, integrating key systems, removing data access obstacles and automating customer communications can all have a drastic impact. Freeing up resources to continue driving toward your goals for 2022.

Adapt & Adopt

Liam Hopper – Managing Director, The Kitchen Group

Lead times for stock will require a lot more organising, especially with 16-24 week appliance lead times, affecting logistics across the industry. There will be a need to secure the supply chain so price fluctuations won’t hit you at the last minute.

Likewise, trends will continue to evolve. We have already seen Scandinavian, 3D wood effect doors are going to be in and, as such, many showrooms have already been fitted with these for the start of 2021.

Lastly, all of this will be compounded by a shortage of good quality employees. This means companies need to ensure they’re looking after staff and customers alike, making them feel valued.

Train The Next Generation

Stephen Johnson, Managing Director, Quooker UK

As an industry, the big focus must be on solving the growing skills gap crisis.

As we have weathered the Covid-19 storm and looked at how our own workforce operates, this crisis has been helpful in shining a light on the sizeable, and growing, skills gap the UK is facing.

High consumer demand for installation and after-sales care is increasingly unable to be met with any speed. And in many cases, without any guarantee of quality.

No matter how many taps, kitchens or bathrooms we sell; if there are not enough installers to keep pace, there is an inevitable bottleneck.

It’s an area that requires drastic change and immediate support.

I would love for the industry to recognise this shortage is a real problem. To get behind it and work hard to try and fix it. We cannot afford to wait years for this to change.

Quooker are fully invested in training the next generation and would urge other KBB organisations to get involved.

Consider Your Environmental Footprint

Yvonne Orgill, Managing Director, Unified Water Label

There will be more consumer demand and a focus from the government to encourage industry to develop and innovate. We will see legislation in some cases, as the government seeks to meet its environmental targets.

Sustainability, repairability and life cycle will all be big themes in 2022.

Many manufacturers have already responded to this challenge by looking at their products and their processes.

At the UWLA we want to support them and others in the supply chain to promote these products and encourage behaviour change in consumers.

Our activities are designed to promote the importance of good performance products and influence consumer behaviour. It’s crucial for the KBB sector to understand why they should support this initiative, rather than let the government impose restrictions.

Invest In Your Team

Maria Challis – Director, James James Kitchens

Some of the more pressing issues will be staff retention, employee wellbeing and a healthy mindset.

The external pressures, in connection with Covid-19, and the additional strains of the virus send many into a spiral of worry and panic which is not great for staff morale.

There has been a distinct shift in the public perception of a 9-5 job which, I believe stems, from having long periods of time on furlough and seeing family life closer to hand.

We operate a fully open discussion approach so that my colleagues feel heard and supported. We will also be running regular mindset and wellbeing workshops to aid the ongoing effects of this pandemic.

Intrigued to learn more? Check out our Insights Hub to keep your business at the cutting edge.

Ready to explore how Anthill can help you make 2022 your best year yet? Schedule a demo today.

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