Volume 46, Issue 3 - April 2007

Secret Shopper
Shelter Goes Undercover
by Carol Stone, contributing writer for Shelter magazine.

A Conscientious Cabinetmaker
Business Provides Good Service But Who Wins the Bid?

Late one afternoon, my builder called and said, “You will be meeting with the cabinet man in the morning.” I wasn’t ready to think about cabinets. It seemed much too early in the building process to begin thoughts of cabinet placement and design.

Fortunately, I had just enough time to dash to a nearby town and visit a ready-made cabinet shop. 

The shop we visited is located midway down a shopping strip leading to one of the larger chain hardware/home supply stores. Although the shop was small, it was well lit and arranged in an interesting manner to exhibit various cabinet styles.

A gentleman seated in the store greeted my husband and I , as we entered around 4:30 p.m. There were no other customers while we were there. He was friendly, but not pushy. He didn’t interrupt us as we browsed for several minutes. At that time, I noticed another salesperson who nodded politely as we walked past his desk. The showroom provided a number of cabinet displays of different styles, prices, and, I presumed, quality. All the counters were nicely decorated, but not over done, so I could easily imagine my mixer, toaster and coffee pot sitting upon them. It did not take long for me to find a display cabinet that really appealed to me. When I asked questions about that particular style and color, the man who first greeted us answered my questions and offered to design a kitchen for me if I would bring my house plan. 

About one week later, he called to say he had developed a workable plan for my kitchen. He also told me when he would be in the store, so that I could speak with him rather than another salesperson.

Two weeks later, I went back to see his drawings and, to my surprise, I was shown everything on a computer screen. I was delighted to see that his model was exactly as I had imagined. He took great care to explain everything, gave me a price quote and a cabinet sales contract stating all the terms and conditions of the proposal. 

He would not, however, give me a printout of the design. That is understandable since there are several local cabinet makers in the area. By this time, however, I had met with my builder’s cabinet maker twice, been shown a drawing of his ideas (which were almost exactly like the drawings I saw on the computer screen), discussed options on doors, drawers, wood, provided a price quote and printed copies of the design. 

The salesman called me one other time to see if I would be interested in cabinets of lesser quality with a shorter warranty time. This let me know that the store was willing to work with its customers. The visit to the store was helpful and it definitely gets an A+ for effort.

But they didn’t win my business. I decided to use the cabinet maker recommended by my builder, because he provided more flexibility in design change, installation and pricing, which the store was not able to match. 

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