What happens in the kitchen/bath showroom on a designer's computer screen and what takes place in the field when a job's installed are often not the same. So when designers are hired at Tegeler Design & Remodeling, Hiawatha, Iowa, they're required, as part of their training, to work on three or four different jobs as a carpenter's helper.

President and general manager Anne Tegeler says the company started the policy four years ago as a way to make designers more aware of time and costs. Trainees spend part of their first 90 days in the field, part in the company's countertop fabricating shop, and part in the office.

"We assign them to jobs that are just starting, so they can go through the whole thing, start to finish," Tegeler says.

The company's lead carpenters welcomed the idea. At one point, Tegeler Design & Remodeling even had its leads reciprocate by reporting to the company showroom on Saturdays to watch design staff work with customers. That ended two years ago, Tegeler says, because leads wanted their Saturdays off. But meeting and greeting customers in the showroom "gave them a little more experience in how to communicate with customers confidently." Tegeler says that a new policy the company is implementing requires the lead carpenter to meet with clients in the showroom once the job is sold. That will guarantee "there are no surprises when he comes knocking on their door," she says.