How Do We Go About Kitchen Cabinets?
From April 2019, the month of our foundation, to May 2020, we sold 2 cabinet painting projects. Then, by the end of May 2020, in the apex of a global pandemic, we reimagined the entire cabinetry painting process–from sales to marketing to execution–completing over 40 cabinet painting projects to February 2021. In other words, in less than a year, we went from being a total failure in cabinetry painting to being one of the most sought-after companies for these types of projects.
How did it happen? What were we able to reimagine that brought so much success? The answer lies in a keener understanding of our customer-centric, service-driven business model.
We were doing a couple of things wrong, which we find important to share with you before proceeding to explain the current process:
- Customers love minimizing discomfort: Most cabinetry is located either in the kitchen or bathroom, two of the most used spaces in a household. If the whole process to paint the cabinets takes place at their homes, they will feel less inclined to do it–unless you offer them more ease of completion.
- With cabinets, people are looking for durability and quality: You can easily get away with a bit of roughness on an interior or exterior painting job, but not with a cabinetry one. The cabinets are the place where the eyes gravitate toward when someone enters a kitchen. People don’t want their cabinets peeling too quickly or looking worse than if left unpainted.
- Uncertainty with the scope of work: If you have to ask too many questions as a customer, the contractor is already adding points toward not being hired. Does your work include crown molding on top of my cabinets? Does it include the kitchen island? What about the lazy susan? Most painting contractors are great at their trade, but they fail to describe effectively what they are doing and how they are doing it, frustrating customers in the process and reducing their chances of getting hired.
- Show don’t tell: As with the previous one, what references do you have to claim that you are good at painting cabinets? Any photos? Truth is we all start from nowhere. We all need one customer to believe in us, so we can take it from there. That was our case back in May 2020. We completed our first full cabinetry painting project. We knew we had to take as many photos as possible, as that project would open up the doors for other ones to follow.
Our Process Reimagined
Part of life is being able to reimagine. In business this is no less true. We continue to work hard to make our business model as service-driven and customer-centered as possible. We put ourselves in the shoes and minds of those who will hire us. Do we currently find our process legit? Why do so many people prefer others over us? It was not enough to provide an equivalent service to those of other great painting contractors. We had to fix what wasn’t working and offer something even better in return.
The Sales Process
We needed more details than just taking a quick look or measurement. It was imperative to be as detailed as possible. In fact, our current process works so smoothly that people feel comfortable hiring us over a simple online quote–not even meeting them in person!
In order to personalize each project, we divide the estimating sales process in the following items (commonly shared by most cabinetry):
- Small/Medium Doors
- Large Doors
- Doors with Glass
- Lazy Susan
- Box Sides
- Crown Molding
- Kitchen Island
Do any of these sound familiar? What about all? Our sales process became more detailed. People could now see exactly what they were being charged for and could see a contractor who took the time to effectively determine the scope of work. Based on each item, we determined how long and much it’d take to get them each completed, thus setting up a price for each. This immediately put us in the forefront. Truth is when a customer can see the value the price will be of less value than quality and professionalism. These projects are tedious, and to ensure they last, one needs to hire the right person.
Every completed cabinet painting project became an instant opportunity to showcase our work to others. Through professional photos and videos on our social media and when sending estimates via email, people could see in real time they work we were completing recently. At times when we were doing an estimate in a week when we have various cabinetry painting projects, we take one finished door to the customer to show them how they would look at the end. People want to see. If you are able to create a visual representation of your work to them, you already have an advantage over the competition.
The Actual Execution
In a Nutshell:
Day 1 – Painting of framing; dismounting of doors
Day 2 – Painting of doors remotely at the workshop
Day 3 / 4 – Drying Time (No Work)
Day 4 / 5 – Installation and Final Touch-Ups
Without further adieu the reason we have made it this far. The actual production process. Here are the steps we take to paint kitchen cabinets:
- Preparation: Most people will have countertops, backsplashes, flooring or some sort of other renovation in their kitchens while painting their cabinets. Ensuring our prospective customers a coverage of these areas is pivotal in earning their trust and contract for the project. We make sure to put drop cloths around the flooring and taping or plastic sheeting as needed.
- Dismounting: One of the reasons people didn’t hire us at first to paint their kitchen cabinets is because we told them we’d paint the doors at their place. In their minds, this meant they’d have doors all around the house or kitchen, incrementing the chances of staining furniture and appliances while also negatively affecting the outcome of the doors. Our new process means that we dismount all the doors, properly labeling them for an easy installation once they are painted, and orderly putting them in the work van to paint them the next day at the workshop.
- Double coating with primer: Once all doors are uninstalled and all preparation has been completed, we proceed to sand and paint the exterior framing around the doors. Here is where we added an extra step that sets us apart from others: we apply two coats of primer instead of one. Most painting contractors will tell customers their service includes one coat of primer, and while this is enough for most types of wood, adding a second layer of primer ensures that even the oldest and dirtiest cabinetry projects endure longer. In total, the project receives two coats of primer and two coats of paint in total–all happening with the customer present!
- Rolling at home: People are naturally scared with any type of painting project staining their furniture, appliances, or floors. This fear grows exponentially with the idea of spraying. Being the most cautious of painters means that you have to take more time protecting all the surfaces around the job than working on the job itself. The fears of the customer still don’t go away and you are incurring in a longer completion rate, meaning you make less money and grow wearier about the project. From this experience, we decided to roll at the customer’s home using the right tools and paint. Using brand new Purdy, ultra-soft 4 inch mini rollers and Sherwin Williams’ Extreme Bond Primer and Emerald Trim Enamel, we can produce the same soft finish from spraying with the highest quality paint in the market, while also minimizing the customer’s concern of turning their homes into a messy painting workshop.
- Spraying: Once we are all done with the process of painting the framing at the customer’s home the first day, we are ready to get messy at the shop. All the doors and drawers are sanded, wood-filled if needed, and then double primed and painted with a professional Titan airless sprayer at the workshop. They’ll look as good as new!
- Waiting: Patience is a virtue. It can’t be any more true than painting cabinets. From tens of projects completed to date, the key is waiting. If you take the doors the next day, you don’t allow the time for them to fully dry. Therefore, waiting one or two days before taking them back, allows both for the framing (painted on the first day) and the doors (painted on the second day) to dry properly before the final installation.
- Final installation and touch-ups: This is the most rewarding facet of the job. Once the doors and framing are fully dry, you can scratch them as much as you want and they’ll be as tough as new. The final day (usually 3-4 business days after you first visited the customer’s home) will usually only require a couple of hours to ensure all doors are properly aligned and any minor touch-ups are made prior to finishing.
- Warranty: We stand by our word. Customers immediately receive a one year warranty for these projects. If something happens to the cabinetry project (cracking due to weather or peeling from everyday use), we make sure to return within 14 business days of notice to resolve the issue. Out of the over 40 projects done to date, we’ve only had to return to 4, speaking volume to the quality of our work so far.