Management Matters: Selling Solid Surface as a Kitchen Countertop
by Jon Olson
If you are offering solid surface countertops, it’s no secret that selling in the residential market can be a challenge right now. There are several reasons for that. Some say the price tag is too high. Others say granite is what many people are asking for. Still others would say it’s because of the amount of competition. If you let these reasons become hurdles, then selling solid surface tops could seem very difficult. Let’s look at some ways to jump over the hurdles and make these important sales.
The best way to sell anything is to know your product and to be aware of trends pertaining to it. So what do we know about solid surface as a product?
First, it is a scratch-resistant, heat-resistant, non-porous surface that will not support the growth of mold and mildew when cleaned properly. Also, it has inconspicuous or invisible seams. And because of solid surface’s workability it can be crafted like no other surface.
Here’s an example:
Think about a cove backsplash with a scribe strip. The way it fits against the wall is just spectacular. You see no large visible gaps or gobs of silicone. Just like the crown molding that has been coped to fit and follow any wall in the kitchen, a solid surface top can be fitted the same way. Let’s stop and think about that. Consumers pay for the beautiful crown and cabinets to look custom, so why should you stop with your countertop? Every kitchen showroom that has a solid surface display should have a cove backsplash top for customers to appreciate. When you think about selling tools, this is an investment that will bring results.
Here’s another example of knowing the product:
With solid surface, you can really let your imagination go wild on designs. Curvy tops, large radiuses and drop-down end panels on an island can all be done with other surfaces. But with solid surface it’s much easier to do, thus lowering fabrication cost. You can have a great design and stay within budget.
Let’s look at trends.
Things are trending really well right now in favor of solid surface. Years ago if you wanted to stand out you had to have a granite top, but that is changing. Homeowners are looking for something different. The styles are trending in kitchen designs to a cleaner, contemporary look. Contemporary means more solid colors, such as whites, grays and blacks. And solid surface can deliver that look.
Speaking of colors, consumers spend quite a bit of time choosing colors for their homes. Naturally, countertops are a big part of the color picture. This is where solid surface really shines. There are hundreds of colors to choose from. Sometimes we joke about the large amount of new colors that come out each year, but there’s a reason for that. Color trends are always changing and people change, too. Colors that worked 10 years ago may seem tired and dated today. Solid surface has the advantage of being able to keep up with these changes. Sell that to your customers. Work with color. You will be the designer or fabricator everyone goes to.
Also, be sure to take the time to do your homework on what’s trending. Use magazines, design shows, trade shows, or my favorite, social media. It’s vital to gather information to be successful in the solid surface world.
Selling solid surface is becoming easier. One designer told me, “It’s time for a change. What used to work doesn’t fit the design needs of my clients. It’s all about the color. Clients want to stand out. They need different options.”
A fabricator told me, “Today’s kitchen styles are becoming more understated and neutral."
Another designer said, “I can’t believe when I show the solid surface how much enthusiasm there is for it.”
So prepare yourself. With a well-prepared presentation of both the product and how trends affect design, there isn’t anything that can hold you back from selling solid surface.
About the Author
Jon Olson works for DuPont as a key account consultant for Corian and Zodiaq surfaces in New England and has more than 30 years involvement in the solid surface industry, with experience in all aspects of fabrication and sales. He is the past recipient of ISFA’s Fabricator of the Year and Innovator Awards and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.