Designer Connection - July 2023

BKBG’s Designer Connection is written exclusively to benefit members of the BKBG Designer Alliance. Connection relates trends, profiles a designer, offers product updates and shares professional development opportunities. Most importantly, Connection is another tool to bring the BKBG design community together, to share best and successful practices and to enable you to build your network of peers who face the same challenges and opportunities that you must address daily.  We welcome your comments, input and suggestions for improvement.  Post your comments on the Design Alliance TEAMS platform or send them to BKBG Director of Membership and Engagement Jennifer Swenson. 

How a Hotdog Created the Best Restaurant in the World

Will Guidara built Eleven Madison Park in New York City into the number one rated restaurant in the world. Eleven Madison Park not only served innovative, out-of-this-world, delicious, multicourse tasting menus that tickled the tastebuds of foodies across the globe, the restaurant was also stunningly beautiful.  Eleven Madison Park was always ranked in the top 50 world restaurants, however it did not reach number one until it served a hotdog. 

In a recent Ted Talk, Guidara explained how a hotdog took Eleven Madison Park to the pinnacle.  During a busy lunch service, Guidara was clearing appetizers from a table of foodies on vacation. He heard one customer say.  “What an amazing trip.  We’ve been to Per Se, Le Bernardin, Daniel, Momofuku, now Eleven Madison Park. Then another diner at the table commented, “Yeh, but the only thing we didn’t get to try was a New York City hotdog.”

The lightbulb over Guidara’s head went off. He took the dirty plates back to the kitchen and ran to a stand down the street, purchased a hotdog and then returned as fast as he could back to Eleven Madison Park’s kitchen. He had to convince the chef to serve the hotdog to the diners, because serving what New Yorkers refer to as a dirty water dog in a four-star establishment is blasphemy. The chef conceded.  He cut the hotdog into four perfect pieces adding a swish of ketchup and mustard and finished the plate with quenelles of sauerkraut and relish.

Guidara said to the diners as he served the hotdog, “To make sure you don’t go home without any culinary regrets, a New York City hotdog.”  The diners were blown away, commenting that the hotdog was not only the highlight of their meal, but their entire trip to New York and they would be telling this story for the rest of their lives.

The hotdog experience taught Guidara that the goal of a restaurant is not just to serve incredible food.  What the restaurant and all other businesses should strive to deliver are experiences that are forever memorable.  Guidara obsessed over how he could deliver the same experience of his hotdog diners to everyone who came to Eleven Madison Park.  He discovered there are three keys.

The first is being present, which Guidara understood to mean, “caring so much about the thing you're doing or the person you're with that you stop caring about all the other things you need to do. And it's essential... See, so often we have such long to-do lists that we aren't able to slow down enough to actually listen to the people around us, to the things they're saying and all the things they're not saying. If I hadn't been present at that table, I never would have heard that throwaway line about the hotdog.”

Second, creating raving fans requires you to take what you do seriously without taking yourself too seriously.  Businesses build insulated silos with sacrosanct rules and protocols that can get in the way of customers getting what they want.  How many kitchen designers are so wedded to the concept of the triangle that they would never imagine placing the main refrigerator in a walk-in pantry?  That’s about as alien a concept as serving a hotdog in a four-star restaurant.

One size fits one is the third principle. You have to treat each customer as a unique individual. You have to provide services that are truly specific to individual needs.  If you give your team leeway to create forever memorable experiences, they will do so.

Kitchen and bath showroom designers should have the same goals as Eleven Madison Park. They both are in the business of serving people.  If you want to climb to the top of the mountain, you need to deliver forever memorable experiences.  When you design a kitchen for a customer, you get to know a lot about the family, what they enjoy, and what they want to experience. Watch for signs and be present so that you can truly surprise and delight. Think about the gift you provide at the end of a project.  Should not that gift be personal and provide an opportunity to deliver an exceptional experience? Remember one size fits one. Be present and listen for clues that give you a sense of belonging and your customers a memory that will last a lifetime. 

Get the Recognition You Deserve: Last Chance To Enter the 2023 BKBG Design Contest

The BKBG Designer Alliance Design Contest recognizes the outstanding skill and talent of Designer Alliance members.  Our initial effort exceeded all expectations with more than 50 entries submitted to the inaugural effort in 2022.  We’ve capitalized on the lessons of experience to improve the 2023 Design Contest. 


The first major change makes it easier for everyone to participate.  Everyone had six months to enter and now the deadline is around the corner. Entries are due July 31, 2023.  


The second change is the addition of a new category – best showroom design.  Awards will be presented for:


  • Best Overall Kitchen
  • Best Overall Bathroom
  • Best Other Space
  • Best Showroom Design
  • People’s Choice (voted on by 2023 BKBG Conference Attendees)


Winners receive a $500 gift card and the recognition of their peers and industry as an award-winning designer – priceless.


Click here to access the entry forms.

The New Meaning of Home

COVID 19 dramatically change the way homeowners think about and use their homes.  A new America at Home study identified a “historic paradigm shift with homeowners’ attitudes, lifestyles, design preferences and purchasing decisions undergoing a complete reconstruction.”  The study was conducted in three phases, at the start of the pandemic, in the middle of COVID 19, and at the end of the health emergency and revealed key insights into how Americans and homeowners view their homes and the most important features that are wanted and needed.

Emotional wellbeing was the most important concern of survey respondents, followed by financial wellbeing, mental health and physical health and fitness.  Homeowners want their living spaces to provide comfort, security, relaxation, reflection and a gathering space for family.  The factors that affect wellness in a home include germ-resistant surfaces, home technology, energy efficiency, increased storage and better-equipped kitchens.  

The focus on wellbeing was also reflected in homeowners hopes for the future.  When survey respondents were asked what they were most hopeful for, the most popular response was immediate family (62%) followed by a better healthier me (39%) and my home (34%).  Factors identified that were most important to wellness in the home included private outdoor space or garden (67%), energy conservation (65%) and water conservation (54%).  

Homeowners want spaces that work for their new lifestyle.  Wellness is more than a trend.  It’s becoming a priority.  Kitchen and bath designers can capitalize on wellness demand to capture the interest and trust of customers by explaining the benefits of an in-home spa and how you can create specific zones in the kitchen that can double as a study, classroom, office, café, and conference room among other needs.  

Act Now to Reserve for Fall 2020 Training Classes

BKBG's 2020 training classes (presented by MasterBrand Cabinets) resume this fall. All courses will be held on Zoom at 11AM-12:30PM ET. Reserve now because space is limited.

  • Designer Alliance 2020 Basic Level Training - September 13th – Registration Link
  • Designer Alliance 2020 Intermediate Level Training - October 11th– Registration Link
  • Designer Alliance 2020 Advanced Level Training - November 8th  – Registration Link

Please contact Jennifer Swenson for the link to the Alliance Teams Platform or to register other designers for Designer Alliance.

Why Your Emails Are Ignored

Hubspot recently posted the top five reasons emails that you send to prospects get ignored.

Prospects who are unfamiliar with your design prowess or have not heard of your showroom, are likely to be skeptical of your outreach.  Designers can counter this tendency with creative or unexpected subject lines that are either vague or hyper-specific, advises Hubspot.  A vague email may state, “Our showroom has helped hundreds of homeowners live a more fulfilled, healthy and enjoyable life.   Does that appeal to you?  A hyper specific email demonstrates that you have done your research and understand what the prospect wants.  This can be accomplished by following prospects on social media sites to learn their habits, preferences and lifestyle choices.  A hyper-specific email may read, “We hope you enjoyed your last trip to the spa, would you be interested in creating similar experiences in your home daily?”

A second major reason that showroom emails are ignored is that they are not relevant.  Your emails should explain how you can help a prospect solve a problem that they are actually dealing with.  This information can be obtained from analyzing website traffic and leveraging requests for information.  This may be to increase the value or enjoyment of the home, create multifunctional space for a hybrid work schedule, or the need for increased wellness. 

The third reason is that the problem has already been resolved.  If someone has renovated their kitchen in the last five to 10 years, they probably are not going to pay attention to an email encouraging them to renovate their kitchen.  The workaround this challenge is to promote the benefit of renovating or creating other new spaces in their home, the primary bath, laundry room, outdoor space, etc.

Lack of creativity is another major reason emails are not read.  This is where video can be a game changer. Sending before and after videos of projects in the prospects neighborhood can be significantly more effective than a written offer to improve a home. 

Every prospecting email should have a call to action. This could be to offer guidance on budgeting for a new kitchen or a guide to selecting cabinets and countertops.   All three are available as part of BKBG’s call to action guides.  Your initial email should ask a simple question if the prospect is interested in improving their home.   If you get a response, then the next step is to reach out and ask what spaces they want to improve and go from there.

Peer Calls August 3

The next Designer Alliance Peer Group call will be Wednesday, August 3, 2023, at 1pm EST. BKBG Designer Alliance calls provide a unique opportunity for kitchen and bath showroom design professionals to obtain input to challenges, opportunities and trends from like minded peers working in best-in-class showrooms around the country. The August 3 call will focus on market trends, challenges designers face, successful practices to solve problems and take advantage of opportunities and to learn from the experiences of others who do what you do everyday.

Click here to register.

A Limited Number of NKBA Badges Are Available

BKBG has partnered with NKBA to offer Designer Alliance members continuing professional development and skill set enhancement opportunities through the NKBA Specialty Badge Program.  

Specialty Badges are the NKBA’s latest concept in professional development. This new micro-credentialing program is a form of personalized learning that recognizes and displays the acquired knowledge of our members across all segments of the kitchen and bath industry. It affords our members the ability to stay current with the latest information in this ever-changing industry.

BKBG is offering a limited number of badges at a discounted price of $65/badge. Any designer who is a member of both BKBG Designer Alliance and NKBA, can take advantage of this professional development opportunity.

Once registered, you will receive a number of emails from NKBA including the study guide for your course. You will have 90 days to complete the exam and will then be eligible to register for an additional course while supplies last.  You will receive a Specialty Badge Certificate upon passing the exam.

The courses will go fast so please register today.

Vendor News and Updates

Waypoint Introduces New Visualizer Tool

Waypoint Living Spaces introduced a new visualizer tool! Designers can easily:

  • Select cabinet door styles, profiles, colors, and hardware
  • Select from a design accent, such as countertops, backsplashes and flooring
  • Save and share your project via email and social media
  • Print and share your design report

Click here to get started.

Hardware Resources Introduces A Double Coffee Drawer

Coffee and tea aficionados will love the new Double Coffee Drawer from Hardware Resources. This cleverly designed two-tier organizer is a great addition to any beverage station. Made from 1/2" solid birch with dovetail construction, the top coffee pod tray holds up to 56 Keurig K-cups or Nespresso Original pods. The top slides back to reveal a storage area for any accessory items needed to make a great cup of coffee or tea.

Caesarstone Connects With 2020

BKBG Designers can now use 2020 software to export countertop designs directly to the Caesarstone Connect portal and receive an instant quote. The application is easy to use, saves times and helps assure that you receive rebates for your Caesarstone purchases.  Click here to watch a tutorial.  Click here for easy-to-understanding instructions for using 2020 to connect with Caesarstone and click here to download Caesarstone catalogs.

2023 Corporate Sponsors

Bath & Kitchen Business Group
Tom Cohn
Executive Vice President
Facebook  Instagram