Sandy Winslow tells himself that he’s got the greatest timing in the world. He and his wife Catherine chose Sept. 8, 2008, to open Splash Kitchens and Baths, a design and construction business specializing in kitchens and baths. That’s the same day Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federally backed housing agencies, “were going down,” Winslow recalls.
Founding the kitchen company came at the end of a lifelong career in real estate and custom home building. Winslow says that he couldn’t control political or economic events, but he could control his company’s finances, and was resolved to start the business entirely debt-free, which proved key to its success.
Because the Winslows found most showrooms they visited sterile, they set out to create a retail environment in their 2,200-square-foot showroom, where boutique furnishings and other items are on display.
- To avoid dabblers. The company insists the initial conversation take place in its showroom, where four designers have their offices. “Knowing our customer upfront is critical,” Winslow says. Customers bring with them a photograph of the space they want designed and remodeled.
- Splash charges not only a design retainer but a “measure fee,” i.e., the cost of two designers going to the house to measure, usually $150 and not returnable. “It takes two to hold a tape,” Winslow says, “and our designers’ time is expensive.”
- Because the Winslows found most showrooms they visited “sterile,” they set out to create a full-on retail environment in their 2,200-square-foot showroom, where gourmet items, towels, bathmats, and other items are on display. Music plays and “we have a bar set up with wine, beer, and related items. It always smells very good, so people like it.”
- Clients deal with team rather than one person, the team being an architectural designer to plan the space, an interior designer to develop selection choices, and a construction manager to move the project forward.