Volume 48, Issue 5 - September/Ocotber 2009

Secret Shopper

Just Enough Cooks in the Kitchen
by Katie Hodge

The morning rush hour traffic was clogging the roads in Northern Virginia as I steered my car towards the city of Manassas Park. The business park where B.C. Builders Supply is located looked more like warehouse row than it did a shopping center.

Was I in the right place? A quick visual survey showed the exterior of the building was clean and simple, but a little off
the main drag. Without clear directions, it could prove difficult to find. The sign on the building specified cabinets and countertops as the products of choice so I prepared myself for a day of kitchen cabinet shopping.

First Impressions
Upon entering the store the vast difference between its surroundings and the interior were startling. The outside looked like a warehouse; the inside was a beautifully lit well-designed showroom. While the store was not graced with a large amount of space, what it had was used wisely. The consumer’s eyes would easily drift from kitchen to kitchen, taking in the beauty of the wood cabinets and the granite countertops. The store also sports a large extension that serves as a workshop, bustling with activity and projects. Billy, who was both friendly and professional, immediately appeared and offered his assistance. He listened attentively as I explained my kitchen-overhaul project and appeared to be genuinely interested in my situation.

Billy asked a series of questions about size and number of cabinets, showed me samples of the different products, and gave me honest and helpful opinions about the difference among cabinet-makers. He was clearly knowledgeable on the product and the process from purchase to installation and was able to answer all of the questions that were asked. Upon my explanation that I was just at the beginning of shopping around, he left me to peruse the cabinet and countertop samples. They had a number of different brands of cabinets, and Billy provided literature to take home and study. He gave his recommendations, but left me to decide what I preferred. He didn’t attempt to make the sale while I was in the store or even obtain contact information to check with me at a later date. With the economy in its current state I was surprised that they didn’t jump on the chance to make a sale.

Price Points
After a final survey of the inventory I made my way towards the exit. As I left I was pleased with my experience, though I had hoped to receive some actual dollar figures. I didn’t have any specifications to give him for my dream kitchen, but I had hoped he could tell me what a ballpark price might be. Whether or not the price was right, I wanted to support this company because of my positive shopping experience. The store would provide a user-friendly shopping experience for both the consumer and the contractor. However, I was left feeling surprised that I was allowed to walk out the door without the store having any way to contact me. In this economy a company that can make the buying process pleasant is a rarity, but does it hold any value if you let the sale walk out the door?

B.C. Builders Supply
LOCATION: Manassas Park, VA

Store was Easy to Find C+
Parking Lot was Clean A
Windows were Clean A
Greeted Upon Entering A
Store Aisles were Clear of Debris A
Neatness of Displays A
Employee Politeness A
Employee Appearance
Employee Product Knowledge
Store Experience Satisfaction
Overall Grade

A Excellent
B Above Average
C Average
D Below Average
F Unsatisfactory


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