It’s a new era for Nazareth’s Kitchen Magic.
For more than 40 years, the company has been redesigning kitchens in homes throughout the Lehigh Valley. That’s still its focus, but how they operate, how they find customers and the technology they use has changed drastically since the start of the COVD-19 pandemic.
Kitchen remodeling isn’t something a homeowner takes on often, explained Brett Bacho, president of the family-owned company. Generally, he said, customers will come to Kitchen Magic once, and then won’t think about remodeling their kitchen again for another 20 to 25 years.
So, the company can’t count on repeat customers.
That has made lead generation an important part of their business and they have historically gotten those leads through in-person displays and advertising. Before 2020, Kitchen Magic had booths at more than 440 home shows, trade shows and other events as well as kiosks at area malls and wholesale retailers like Costco. Such marketing brought in more than half of the kitchen remodeler’s business.
“Then we were forced into a situation where getting together was not encouraged,” Bacho said. “How are we going to adjust when something like this comes in and takes away your ability to market yourself?”
That’s where the company pivoted.
Linda Fennessy, public relations manager for the company, said the team got together to look at new ways to reach potential customers.
“We couldn’t be around people, but we still have the media,” she said.
The company started advertising heavily through different social media channels, on billboards and returned to the direct-mail advertising they had stopped using. It made sense to Renate Sprung, vice president of marketing and one of the owners of her family’s business.
“During the shutdown the big event of the day became going out to the mailbox,” she said. “We just branched out into everything, even local TV, to see what worked and what was affordable.”
The outreach worked, with so many people staying at home, Sprung said, the demand for home remodeling skyrocketed and customers were finding them.
“For the first time the demand for our product went up during a time of economic uncertainty,” she said.
But even with new ways to reach potential customers, Kitchen Magic struggled with other issues that have plagued businesses since the start of the pandemic, supply chain interruptions and the labor shortage, Bacho said.
“When we able to restart in June or July we ramped up production right away, so we’d have inventory for the demand,” he said.
Since they do a lot of their cabinet manufacturing on site, the supply chain didn’t have as big an impact as it did on other companies, but there were still shortages on some of the components they needed.
“The supply chain hit us in oddball ways, hinges, plastic parts,” he said. “There would be a shortage on wooden lazy Susans. You never know what is next.”
Some of their suppliers were even rationing components, so even if Kitchen Magic could get the parts, they might not have enough and they had to add different products to their offerings so people could find quality substitutes, Sprung said.
But even as the company continues to struggle with such issues, it’s making changes to help it better obtain and service customers.
During the shutdown, Kitchen Magic staffers began offering virtual consultations, speaking with customers over platforms such as Zoom to share ideas about how they could refresh their kitchen space. The newest addition is a visualization tool that allows a customer to “play” with different kitchen designs to get an idea of what their new kitchen will look like.
“They don’t have to imagine anymore,” Bacho said.
The tool is available on the company’s website and can be used by anyone, Sprung said. It was designed to be fun and easy to use. Customers don’t even need to take a photo of their own kitchen to use it, but instead can choose from several kitchen styles.
“Kitchens come in a finite number of layouts. You can get a very good idea of what yours will look like,” she said.
One thing Sprung said the company likely won’t be doing in the future is going back to events. The era of 440 home and trade shows a year is over for Kitchen Magic and the company will now rely on its new marketing strategies. Customers will still find them at some of the major events in the region.
“We have such a long history with some of these shows.” Sprung said. “We will do an occasional event that we know is a big event in the area.”