Since the economic downturn due to Covid-19 we have noticed a sharp rise in the number of customers price comparing cabinetry and asking for discounts. We noticed this same behavior during the 2008 recession. During those years, kitchen designers and cabinet dealers might have found the increased bargaining annoying. And while it generally didn’t get a customer a discount for cabinets, it also didn’t hurt a customer by looking for one.
During the last recession many contractors and builders went bankrupt and while the customers working with those contractors sometimes lost deposits, most often their jobs just needed to be completed by another construction company. Often the contractors struggling to stay afloat were the company’s giving discounts. However, cabinet manufacturers and cabinet dealers did not go bankrupt in large numbers. So, for a homeowner during the last recession, losing your contractor was generally the worst-case scenario.
2020 has different financial dynamics. Prior to the pandemic many cabinet brands were struggling to stay in business and several like Wood-Mode, 6Square, Clique Studios, and Solid wood Cabinets went bankrupt in the 4 months prior to the pandemic. Many dealers also closed when these lines closed, and many other dealers have been struggling to stay solvent almost since 2010. The Corona Virus may prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for more than a few cabinet brands and cabinet dealers.
One sign that a cabinet brand or dealer is in trouble can be suddenly offering discounts or guaranteeing to beat competitors pricing. For example, just days before Solid Wood closed, they were offering customers discounts and even giving extra discounts to pay for cabinetry in full when ordering. One customer I know ordered and paid in full a day before the dealership and cabinet line both locked their doors.
Recently we have seen a large uptick in customers price shopping their designs and looking for “special deals.” Unfortunately, these customers looking for a bargain may get one, from a dealer or cabinet brand on the brink of insolvency. And when that cabinet dealer and cabinet brand goes bankrupt, the customers will almost certainly lose their 50% or 100% deposit. Far worse than the inconvenience of losing a contractor.
For example, a recent customer of ours just informed us another dealer gave him a price for the same brand we were quoting him of $900 above cost from the manufacturer for an entire kitchen. There is no way any company could pay their employees, rent, insurance and other overhead making $900 per kitchen. So, I know that this dealer just needs cash to survive. They will soon be closed, and all the customers having paid them deposits will lose their money.
Main Line Kitchen Design has a more cost-effective business model than a typical dealer. We do not have a full and expensive to maintain showroom. Instead, our offices simply display the cabinet brands we sell along with thousands of samples. We also are dealers for many more cabinet brands than typical dealers. Were one of our brands to go out of business we could, and have, simply switched a customer to the next most expensive brand we sell at no additional cost to the customer.
Due to favorable refinance rates, we are entering a time when remodeling a kitchen could be a particularly smart investment. Since a good kitchen designer is the most important investment when renovating a home, customers should stay focused on that and on working with a stable and reputable cabinet dealer. Because of the tough economy for dealers and manufacturers, now is not the time to be looking for bargains. And if you ask for one and get one – that would now be a very dangerous sign.
Hoping to help you design a kitchen that will transform your home and make you smile every time you enter the room.
Be safe, stay well . . . and of course . . .
Main Line Kitchen Design