Modern Kitchen

How to Buy a Kitchen

Getting a new kitchen can be a very stressful thing, not least are you spending a lot of money and having the heart ripped form your house temporarily, but you’re also entering into the horrible world of the hard sell.  Having just been through it, here’s my take on the experience and my tips for success.

Starting Out

Go to see lots of sellers.  While you might not ever consider paying £20k for that high-end Magnet kitchen their design team might have the best ideas of all.  These are ideas you can borrow, and use on your final kitchen, for a LOT less money.  We started out our search by visiting 5 kitchen retailers, the 4th company did the best design, which we then passed to all the companies left in the running (2).

The Right Price

All kitchen companies overprice their kitchens.  They do this as:

  1. Some people aren’t price sensitive, they will walk in and buy on the same day
  2. Other people will buy when they see a company drop the price by £500-£1,000 really soon after getting their quote
  3. Those people who stick around and work really hard on getting a low price, feel like they’ve got a bargain

At the end of the day a kitchen carcass is a piece of wood painted, laminated, or dipped in something.  To buy that wood and laminate it yourself would cost a few pounds.  When you see a quote that contains a “Backing Panel” for £140 is that reasonable?  Of course it’s not.  It’s a piece of bloody wood!  Prices start high, you either work hard to get them down or you don’t.

Negotiating

Don’t leave yourself in a rush.  If you are rushing the kitchen sales people are in control, they will ask you when you are fitting your kitchen and categorise you based on that date.  Are you a “quick sale” or “just browsing” or a “guaranteed buyer”.  Don’t be any of these things, make sure you are a “savvy buyer”.

After a design consultation you’ll get calls, typical 24-48 hours after the meeting.  The hard phone sales starts now and they will use every trick in the book to get you to commit early.  Most will have a price reduction waiting and an incentive to buy their kitchen now.  They’ll use leading questions to corner you into buying over the phone on that day.  DON’T commit on their terms, the you’d like more time and that you’ll get back to them.

After the calls will come the emails, offering everything from free Prosecco (Wrens) to further reductions in sale events that they’ve made up.  We even got invited to a BBQ!  In all contact with them, it’s very easy to say “I can’t commit to that until i’ve spoken to my partner”.  Use it, and you’ll be fine.

Once you have control, push them;

  • Compare quotes across suppliers.
  • Send your quotes to the other companies.  It can do no harm, and many promise to beat prices.
  • Ask suppliers why certain items are so much more expensive when compared to other suppliers.
  • Make a very low offer.  Start very low, there is no way they will refuse to business with you because they are offended.  Be rude.
  • Once they’ve turned down your rude offer, let them stew for a few days.  If they call you first you know you’re close to a deal.
  • Email them telling them you are close to a deal but your partner is refusing to buy at their current price.
  • Play with them, remember you’ve planned ahead and are in no rush.

Pitfalls

Most companies will try all these lines and more to get you to agree to buy.  Each one is 100% real.  DO NOT fall for them.  Remember sales people often create urgency, if you feel you are in a rush you’ll make a bad decision.  Concentrate on dictating timescales to them, not giving in to demands.

  • “This is a managers special offer, only if you agree to buy it today”
  • “You have to order it in <month> to get this price”
  • “These appliances are Zanussi/Smeg/Beko, they just take the stickers off and rebrand them”
  • “Free bottle of Prosecco when you order”
  • “This is beyond the approved level of discount”
  • “The regional sales manager is in today, he wants to offer you a special deal because he likes you”
  • “Our units are higher quality than our competitors, make sure you compare” (nobody ever does)
  • “Our fitters are booked up for 6-8-10-12 weeks, if you don’t do it now it’ll be Christmas”
  • “Our delivery and warehouse teams are booked up for 6-8-10-2300 weeks… you need to order now to have it when you want it”

Secret Weapons

  • At the end of each month many companies are reaching for targets, they may strike better deals near the end of a month.
  • Remember whats important to you.  I had a few salesmen say “These have 18mm carcasses”.  Why do i care what the back of a kitchen cupboard is made from?  It’s at the back of a cupboard behind my stale Cheerio’s, and who cares if it’s 2mm thicker than another brand?
  • When you’ve got a quote that’s low enough, find someone with a Howden’s trade account and ask them if it’s good value.
  • Why not find someone to order via Howdens trade on www.mybuilder.com or similar sites?  You save thousands, they make a fee for ordering it.
  • ANYONE can open a trade account at Howdens and other trade only stores.  You don’t have to be a Ltd company.  Tell them you’ve bought a block of flats and you need 8 kitchens.  You’ve become a property developer, right?

Fitting

Never get your kitchen fitted by the store.  They will say that to you too.  It’s a great sales technique, early in negotiations to whisper to someone “I can save you a few grand, listen to this secret.  Don’t use us for you fitting!”.  They are try to gain your trust, and I bet it works… a LOT.

Local tradesmen can always beat showroom installation quotes, and you can choose a trusted tradesman or one with good online reviews.  Simple.

And lastly, if you’re choosing a fitter i’d recommend one who can sort all the little jobs too.  Really you want a project manager who can bring his own guys in for plumbing, electrics, tiling flooring.  If you do it this way you’ll get a much quicker install.  If you try to manage it yourself you’ll lose sight of the order of works, or a tradesman will let you down, and you’ll be fitting for weeks.  Our PM has a 7-10 day fitting plan which includes removal (and preservation) of old kitchen & floor, plastering, painting, plumbing, new radiators, lighting, fitting, appliances, and finishing.  Not bad for 7 days.

Conclusion

If you buy a kitchen mindful of the things above, you should avoid any massive pitfalls. Whilst it will be hard work, you’ll get a good result for a good price!

Enjoy, and if you have anything or any tips to add please let me know!

Cheers,

D