Salesman spiffs; am I crazy to feel taken advantage of???

javaroyalJuly 23, 2010

So we have been working with a designer at an area kitchen and bath showroom to remodel our small kitchen. She's an acquaintence from kid's soccer and since their business is kind of down we wanted to help her -- commissioned sales is feast or famine. Well, she left the business in the middle of our project to get a job with regular hours.

Since we still want to take advantage of better pricing being offered right now we get handed off to another sales designer who immediately starts trying to sell us on Starmark cabinets instead of the Showplace we were thinking we wanted.

Seemed kind of odd that we were being steered so hard so I asked our original designer (no longer there) what the deal is. Showplace and Starmark seem pretty close to each other, they're even both made in SD, but original designer felt Showplace was a better value which is why we were heading down that path.

To my utter surprise and disappointment, she said we were probably being steered because Starmark pays the designer like $25 for every cabinet they put in the order!!! She called it a spiff (which I have never heard of, but a quick internet search turned up some interesting info).

I made our next appointment to see a new design revision using Starmark and part way through I asked our new designer about the spiff and you never saw someone stutter and stammer so much before she admitted it was true; she said it was great for her because that's how she pays for her vacation!! Claims we'll still get the best deal for us, but I'm not so sure I trust this showroom anymore.

Am I crazy or is this normal??? I guess I'd feel a little better if eveyone does this, at least I could be more comfortable that we're not being taken in a direction soley to send our designer on vacation?!?!?!

Here is a link that might be useful: What is a spiff?

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It really depends on if you were paying a design fee or she was working on commission. If the design fees were commissions included in the cabinet pricing, then you knew she was getting paid for the sale and not the design specifically. In this case, she is really a sales person primarily and not a designer and this should have been made more clear to you up front. I would not trust someone who tried to use the client relationship this way, but whether I went elsewhere would depend on the cabinet deal.

It is definitely unethical for a licensed designer to steer a fee based client to a product based on a spiff if that information is not disclosed to the client. If the "designer" is a member of a professional association, she could be disciplined because this was not disclosed to you.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 4:26PM
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Spiffs are not uncommon - that's why some appliance salespeople steer you to certain brands rather than others, for example. Manufacturer's give the salepeople spiffs to get them to push their brands. If you want the other brand, then push for it - you should buy what you want and what's the best value for you, not what's going to get you salesperson paid more.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 4:37PM
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I have friends and family in the business and spiffs are definately not uncommon, but rarely disclosed to the client. They come and go depending how badly the manufacturer is hurting for business and can range from $10 all the way up to a jaw dropping $50 a cabinet!

Guess who is really paying the spiff - yup, it's you, the homeowner; the manufacturer builds it into their price so you can pay it and they give it back to the salesperson.

I agree with steff_1 that it probably doesn't matter whether the salesperson is getting a spiff or not, your decision should be based on the best end price for you.

But, it you are feeling somewhat mistrustful, how would you know if a dishonest salesperson pumped up the price of one brand in order to get you to think the spiffed brand was a better deal? You would never know for sure.

My opinion is always ask the salesperson to quote two or more comparable brands, cut your best deal, and then after the pricing is all worked out ask if there is a spiff involved. Then tell them to give it to you if there is or you walk.

I'd get a quote from another dealership too. It's always a good idea, but especially when spiffs get into the picture.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinet industry spiff rant

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 5:07PM
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I am afraid this is normal practice in just about every sales oriented business where fixed pricing is not in place, and even if it is, there are still bonuses and mark ups that exist.

My example of this is with the purchase of my new high end range and wall oven. I bought the range from an appliance store online and paid what I thought was a fair price based on my research of other online store prices at the time.

Now, imagine my surprise when I decided to purchase the wall oven from an appliance vendor on eBay last week and discovered I could get a deal for a brand new, in the box oven for $1200 off the retail price...JUST BY ASKING!!!

I am thrilled I got a great deal on the wall oven but feel a little cheated that I technically over paid for the range, even though the retailer did nothing wrong their mark up was tremendous.

I have been so concerned about getting screwed during this renovation process I probably have gone way overboard on the paranoria scale. I think the reason we feel this way is really a sad indicment of the contracting, construction and building industry in general. And also from watching to much Holmes on Homes.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 5:23PM
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>>>and then after the pricing is all worked out ask if there is a spiff involved. Then tell them to give it to you if there is or you walk.

Ha, Ha Ha - good one! Do you really expect the salesperson to give you his/her commission? They would either tell you there are no spiffs or else tell you if you're not happy with the price then walk. Would you give your work bonus up to someone just because they asked ?!?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 6:54PM
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Spiffs are completely normal in sales. I don't think the salesman has any obligation to disclose that to you up front. (It's another story if you ask, I guess.)

I think the responsiblity is on the buyer to do the proper research, compare prices of various brands, etc. If, with the spiff in place, it's a better value... then move forward. If the spiff increases the price too much, then choose another option.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 8:30PM
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A sales person does not have the obligation to reveal compensation to a customer. In this case the designer appears to have been using her title of "designer" to win the client's trust and claim to act in the best interest of the client while shielding her real motive.

When you are working with a sales person the relationship is clear. When the sales person uses the title "designer" it can be misleading as in this case. It's a major problem in the design profession.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 10:04PM
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Also, the spiff is not something added to the cost of the item. It's not an upcharge. It's a bonus given by the manufacturer to the sales person to push their product line - obviously it's built in to the price of the item. It's kind of like when the manufacturer offers a rebate for buying a particular item - but in this case the rebate is being offered to the salesperso.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 10:29PM
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I've been working with a local design/build firm and will most likely be ordering Starmark cabinets next week. I like the cabinet and the construction. From what I can tell, they are the same quality as Fieldstone cabinets.

For the O/P, I received an email from Starmark and Fieldstone on the 15th that stated 10% off all cabinet orders until August 16th. Tonight I received another one that stated 10% off until Oct 15th, free upgrade to 3/4" plywood sides and all plywood shelves and for 8 of the door choices, 15% off. I'm pretty pissed off that the firm that I've been working with did not tell me about the 10% off offer, I had to tell them that I knew about it. The sale is not listed on their website. I'm waiting to see the new price with my discount.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 10:36PM
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I have been in the ownership on 50/50 partnerships of 2 independently owned stores and now my own small store in Orlando. I currently have over 30 suppliers for cabinets, sinks, faucets, wine cellars, custom wood tops, home furnishings, lighting, artwork, whirlpools,claw feet tubs, wood flooring, you name it. Smaller stores do tend to work with companies that are better priced with brands not as well known as the typical brands always thrown around on here. None the less I nor the stores I have been involved in have ever been offered a specific kick back per item as seems to be referred to here. We get promotions from suppliers offering no charge on options like paint up charges or glazing for example. Generally the retail store has a multiplier from MSRP to arive at cost. A multiplier maybe a .34 for example. If the MSRP is $1,000 dealer cost is $340. I have never been offered a specific dollar amount per item as a kick back. That does not make sense to me becasue all cabinet items have different msrp's or different multipliers with single msrp per sku instead. Each cabinet has different costs in other words. The kick back would be relative to the cost of the item and not across the board. I could see a discount off the cabinets as a promotion from the supplier where the multiplier is changed as discount. Even so what is to say the managment of the store does not even tell their employees of it and they keep a discount at a store level. I would think the ownership of a store would only allow this spiff to funnel to the sales people if they were on salary or pay by the hour no commission. Normally a sales person on commission will be given a % of msrp. If a store has a .34 multiplier and they want a 50% mark up the total multiplier would be a .51 meaning a discount from MSRP of 49%. A sales person might be given 5% of msrp meaning that a store makes 12% of msrp.

Naturally if % of purchase price is given in commission the more expensive the product the more commission. Starmark is 2-4 the price of other semi custom brands. Starmark is a semi custom and custom cabinet line. Fieldstone is the same product made in the same facility. The branding is all that is different. The door styles and stains are mixed up a bit. The quality should be pretty much the same for the actual finish. Just the features and options change around to make to Brand names.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 12:21AM
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Thanks for the owner/retailer point of view Dave. All the discounts and specials you describe are above board and expected.

Where the spiff gets controversial is when a manufacturer sends the check directly to the designer in return for specifying their product. As an owner you may not even be aware of this arrangement if the check goes to the employee's home address.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 10:36AM
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There are spiffs in all kinds of businesses. I work in the optical business and a certain lens manufacturer offered a $10.00 spiff to sell their brand of progressive lenses. They were good progressives and the patient didn't pay any more for them then other brands but they weren't always my first choice.

I sold them maybe 50% of the time because sometimes I thought a different lens would be better for the patient. But some of the people I worked with sold them almost all the time and made thousands of dollars a year.

A spiff can be a huge incentive.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 10:59AM
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I do not currently have Starmark as a brand I sell in Orlando it does not match up with what I am doing here. I did sell it in the last store I was a 50/50 partner in. I am a good friend to the Starmark rep I am going to call him monday and ask if Starmark offers a Spiff to their dealers. Starmark does not sell direct at first. You have to buy through another dealer to start a relationship before you buy direct. The last store I was a partner in was in that phase when I left the partnership over dishonesty in my partner. So my expierence was not true blue. I have been to starmark training classes with the factory reps and a spiff or anything else similar by differrent name was never mentioned.

The store ownership would be aware of the spiff long before the sales person did. Very few store owners even let their employees know what dealer cost is. I have opened all the accounts I have with suppliers myself. No company I have ever sold in my retail stores has any contact information on file of the sales people. Sure some companies probably do. But I would not consider it the norm and more the exception.

I acknowledge spiffs happen. That was not the point of my post. Just one persons expierence that as a Kitchen and Bath Store owner in my expierence they are not common place of the brands I have been involved with.

At the end of the day what really matters is that you pick out what you like the most and compare it to see if it is the best price. If the price is the best you can find after checking multiple locations you can get it from you should be satisfied you got the best price. The manner of compensation to the sales person is not important. In the case of the post that started this thread the brand was changed after the sales person was changed. If you liked as the consumer the original brand then listen to the advice of the sales person and weigh it against the knowledge you have of the original brand you were considering. If the pric of the alternative is higher and you see no need for the alternative then go back the original. If you feel the sales person has been manipulative for personal gain shop with your feet and go else where to compare and find a price that is as good or better. If you can not find a better price then be content with the sales person making money and make your purchase knowing it was the best price you can find.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 3:55PM
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Dave, I read your post several times and thought a while before deciding to answer. I do agree that the compensation to a sales person should not be important to the customer. I did want to make you aware of one concern about spiffs.

Spiff offers I received during my career were made directly to me either on the phone or in person and in one case the rep clearly intended to circumvent management. Because taking spiffs would have violated my professional standards and because my employee agreement prohibited spiffs, I reported these incidents to management.

The best way to ensure spiffs don't become an issue is to prohibit them as part of the employee agreement.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 8:55PM
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Spiffs, bonuses, commissions are all tools to motivate salespeople. it doesn't just happen in cabinet shops, it happens in electronic stores and tile stores. It happens at the office with the paper salesperson and the office furniture salesman...They need to move a certain product so they offer incentives to their salespeople.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 9:41PM
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This is really great to have so many opinions weighing in! I especially appreciate that it appears that some are actually owners of dealerships.

Thank you so much everyone! I really don't know what I'm going to do now; that little hick-up has made me reconsider the whole project until maybe a little later on.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2010 at 1:00PM
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Hey daveinorlando, I just remembered, did you ever find out anything about spiffs from the Starmark rep you know? I assume you are in FL and I am from MN -- would they ever give away spiffs in one area and not another??

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 1:53PM
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If you read Dave's posting carefully, you will notice a telling synonym for "spiff": kickback.

They're not offered in my industry, but I think any time any person is offered any incentive to offer any product over another that is not based on what is best for the consumer, that is not serving the interest of the customer. That is serving the interest of the seller.

To me, that adds up to it being unethical.

Now, if I were working in a shop, would I refuse the check? I do actually live in this technicolor world, not a black and white one, and I pay bills. So I don't think I could easily do that.

I think the best thing is to ask that shops at least disclose these payments to each customer, so I can make my own decision, based on the TOTALITY of my experience with the shop, as to whether somebody might be steering me toward a payment, or whether they're getting paid the same for them all, so there's obviously no incentive. The way many shops now let people know whether salespeople are working on commission.

I do think most businesses really do want people to be happy. And I am actually a cynical person!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 2:54PM
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Have you received an updated price quote? I was just at a Starmark dealer and the salesperson "designer" indicated that there was a special promotion for an upgrade to the custom wood package until 8/31. Since I am unable to order by Tuesday, I requested that the layout be priced with the upcharge for the wood shelving and sides as that is a non-negotiable requirement for the cabinets (I don't want to downgrade from the cabinets I currently have.) Were the offers you mentioned cumulative/concurrent? Could you take advantage of both or were they mutually exclusive? In what region of the country is your dealer located? The salesperson would not give me a copy of the price estimate despite the fact that it did NOT include a breakdown of the cabinets on the form. It's not their policy ?! I'm fearful of "hidden costs" and bait/switch on return. Did you register to receive the promotional emails? Your input regarding your Starmark purchase is really appreciated. While the preliminary internet and magazine kitchenplanning has been fun, this whole cabinet pricing/buying experience is worse than used car shopping!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 10:01PM
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I am a shop owner also. I sell Dynasty/Omega Cabinetry and Kemper. Two well-regarded brands. Currently there is a Spiff offered on Omega custom cabinets. I think it is 1% off the list price back to the designer. As other posters have indicated, this is common practice. Omega is also offering a promotion 10% off all orders through October 27th. This is different from the spiff - that goes directly to the designer. The promotion comes off the list price and is reflected in the amount billed for the cabinets. It really is a discount to the customer.

Personally, I hate these promotions/spiffs. I always feel like the peddler from "Oklahoma" (the show/movie) if I say, "If you buy before October 27th, you get 10% off!". I usually have the announcement posted in a frame and let the customer absorb the information themselves. When they mention it, I price the kitchen both ways and let the customer figure out their own timing. It makes no difference to me. My profit is the same whether or not the customer purchased during a promotional period or not. The company charges me less, so I charge the customer less.

Spiffs I usually ignore, although as the owner, I can factor it into my pricing - lowering the price to the customer if necessary. However, I can do that. A typical designer working for someone else does get that spiff sent directly to him/her. It is common. I don't view it as unethical at all, unless the designer truly is not advising the customer on the brand best suited to their situation based solely on the spiff (for their personal gain). That is a problem.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 9:22AM
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I'm in northern NJ. When I asked the contractor (its a design/build firm) about the 10%, he said he had already factored that in. I really can't prove or disprove if he had, but I do remember him telling me that Starmark had very good incentives. I believe that I ended up with a total of 45% off the list price. When I first spoke to the firm, he directed me to Starmark as I was interested in inset and the other inset brand they carry, Mouser, is out of my price range. The inset comes with 3/4" plywood construction, so the promotion didn't apply but he hadn't automatically put in the change for the plywood shelves. He added that after I told him I wanted it. I agree with you about a minimum requirement. My 60 year old cabinets are still in great shape, unfortunately the layout is bad.

I registered to get both the Starmark and Fieldstone emails. They appear to be one in the same, though I think there are some additional customization on Fieldstone than on Starmark. I received emails from both about the promotions within a few minutes of each other.

My cabinet order went in last month. There is a two month processing time for the inset, so I won't see them until Oct.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 12:23PM
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This is exactly the Turkish Bazaar practices that consumers foster by trying to get a "DEAL" on everything. Schemes like this are dreamed up in response to "who has the best price on X " ? "Can I save tax if I order on the internet" ? ect. ect...

Stop focusing on the mechanics of a business' accounting and more on their product/service and it's cost vs. a similar productservice that also meets your needs and budget.

It's VALUE folks, not: can I save 6% here and cheat my local gvnt. out of tax, or does Johnny sales weasel get a trip to Atlantis if he sells the most ISE disposals in the Northeast.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 12:31PM
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I never knew about spiffs, but suspected them, so thanks for the insight. I will be more cognizant of this practice when I am purchasing items/services.

LOL...I like the idea of closing the deal and asking for the spiff.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 1:15PM
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A spiff is only a problem if a salesman pushes you to a brand you don't want. Antss is right on target - find what you like and make sure you're getting a price you can live with. Good luck asking the salesman to give you back his spiff - if he's desparate for the sale he might - otherwise he'll tell you to pound sand.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 2:06PM
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LOL, weissman! This thread started because the OP felt pushed to change cabinet brands and was suspicious enough to check it out.

Spiffs are not unethical if you are a sales person in a store because the customer assumes sales staff, including designers, are receiving a commission. How the designer gets paid or how much commission is paid should not be a concern of the customer as long as management approves.

It is unethical for designers within a design firm (not a store) to charge a fee based on specifying the best product for the client and then get a kickback for steering the client to a specific product without properly disclosing that arrangement.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 2:53PM
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Here is a list of companies I sell. I have never been offered a spiff "as defined as a rebate or kick back from a company paid directly to me as the designer" I own my store set up all the accounts and am the only person who designs and sells" I am in effect a self employed individual who owns a kitchen and bath store that is small and low priced.

Different companies run promotions of their products some monthly and others randomly.

I have stayed with the smaller companies for most of my products that may be the difference. I don't know.

In stock RTA products
River Run
J Mark

Stock American Made Products
Contractors Choice
Smart Cabinetry
6 Square
All wood

Semi Custom
Door Components
TRU Wood

North American

I have never been offered a spiff by any one of these companies. I find the idea of a spiff offensive personally. I would not be happy if I had employees down the road and they were being paid by the suppliers directly.

A company promotion I see no problem with. As consumers you need to shop around and see who will give you the best deal with good service and reputation. The more honest companies will tell you about the promtion.

The post above that says you recived a 45% off list price for starmark! I hope you did not buy that. Dealer cost is less than 30% of msrp. This is why I hate MSRP system. It is all about percentages. If my multiplier for starmark is a .30 my dealer discount from MSRP is .70. If you bought the cabines at 70% off msrp you would have bought them at dealer cost. With a 45% off the spread is 25% of MSRP. 10% off is .03 of MSRP.

So if the dealer cost is .30 (Starmark this year re tooled the catalog and changed msrp and multiplier system since I stopped selling it) and there is a 10% off then the dealer cost is .27. You paid .55 of list price. There for divide what you paid in half and you will know the approx dealer cost and therefor mark up. My opinion you paid way to much for you cabinets. I would be happy to sell my high end products for 25% mark up any day of the week. I am guessing you paid close to 100% mark up.

My last paragraph is much more important than stressing about a spiff in my humble opinion.

I wish I had customers that thought like Garden Web readers did that paying more is better. I read posts on paying $500 for faucets and sinks all the time. I think most consumers on here are the same way with their cabinets. It baffles me.

Dave In DC now! I moved my store Orlando was to tough to stay alive in!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 12:05AM
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Dave, thank you for that explanation. I should have added that I paid what I think was 45% which offset labor costs for the renovation.

The contractor gave me a price that was significantly lower than what I paid, if they just sold me the cabinets but I hired someone else to do the renovation. Their installation prices for the entire job which includes removing 2 walls, one of them load bearing, were about 1/3 of the total job price. I really didn't understand why he would have 2 different prices, but the total price came within a couple thousand that I had been quoted by 2 other firms that had different cabinet lines. The difference was that those cabinets were full overlay, the Starmark is beaded inset. The other firms bundled the entire renovation in one price, and one would not give me a cost breakdown until contract signing.

While the preliminary internet and magazine kitchenplanning has been fun, this whole cabinet pricing/buying experience is worse than used car shopping!

Used car shopping is sooo much easier.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 9:10AM
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Dave, glad to hear you are in DC now. The economy there is more stable than Florida and should provide you with many more opportunities.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 10:13AM
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I think the problem is if someone substitutes their gut feeling for what the salesperson is saying. I am a real estate agent and commissions do vary from house to house at times. Maybe I am odd, but I am more happy to find the right house for the buyers because I know the deal will go through and I will get referrals if they are happy, than to try to manipulate them into the one that pays me more.

Now, I have to admit that sometimes a house will make the cut if it is a toss up about what to show on a particular day if there is higher compensation. But showing a house, and pushing a house are 2 different things. On the other hand, I can tell you that the houses put out with below "average" commissions do not get shown. There is no set amount that a house is put out at as we are not allowed to set prices as an industry, but sometimes an agent will get a listing only by cutting the commission to a very low number rather than getting the listing on merit, track record or what they can do for a seller. Those kamikazes are desperate and just because they are willing to work at below living wage does not mean others are. They do their sellers a disservice because fewer buyers brought by means they have less opportunity to get paid a fair price for their house. Sadly, some people think they got a bargain because they paid less commission, yet their pockets end up lighter than their neighbor who was fair. Luckily, the kamikaze agents are usually on their way out of the business when they start doing that.
But I digress....

I make my choices about what to use in my house based on my preferences and after research about the topic. I do not get "steered" by any one person. If the salesperson gets a spiff or not is irrelevant to me. I find what I like and get it for a reasonable price after comparison shopping, and if that reasonable price gives a bonus to the salesperson, then we are all happy. If not, then that is not my concern either.
I can tell you 100% that people do not buy a house because I want them to. They buy a house because they fall in love with it and it suits their needs. Most look around for a while before buying and no amount of persuasion will make them buy one they don't want or talk them out of one they do. If I were to not show houses that were suitable, they'd ditch me and find someone who would show them better stuff. That is the nature of working on commission. I only get paid if I do my job well. The bonuses (a slightly higher commission) are just that, a bonus.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 12:05PM
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Thank you Katsmah!
As it turns out, we're neighbors. I'm from Central NJ. Good luck with your renovation. I relate to your renovation concerns; the all wood cabinets in my kitchen now are also solid and going strong at 45 years!

I loved the look of the Starmark inset doors, but they are more pricey than the full overlay. I haven't yet ordered Starmark. I just don't feel that I want to be rushed to order by today for the free wood upgrade. I'm only about a week or so away from ordering cabinetry, but I'm awaiting another (the third) contractor's bid and also have a pending appointment to price out plans with an omega dynasty and medallion dealer. It's very frustrating to know the Starmark offer extends until October 15th, but the design depot/dealer reportedly has "no knowledge" of the offer extension,especially since we are not talking different parts of the country. If I find Starmark to be my best option, I will be paying heftily for "delaying" my order...effectively penalized if the promotion is still in effect?! I do not begrudge salepeople their bonuses/incentives/spiffs, but would certainly like appropriate discounts/promotions passed to the consumer!

Yes, buying a car was easier. At least there was Edmunds to guide me! (Thanks to Dave in DC (daveinorlando) for providing guidance re: cabinet pricing. It will be helpful as I continue to search or decide upon cabinetry that I love and can afford!) I agree that, in the end, it's a matter of getting a product that satisfies you in terms of look and affordability. However, "affordability" is too often viewed by dealers in the strict sense of the definition in what you are "able to afford", not in terms of fair value. If a selection has been made by me, I can only "afford" the BEST price; I find "what's your budget" an unfair question at that point. If the best price is offered and I can't afford it, then I'll have a decision to make: adjust options/make compromises or walk. If the MSRP, or rather the true pricing point, was not such a guarded secret, then the salesperson would not need to be so "burdened" by clients' multiple pricing requests. Customers could steer themselves in the direction of the line they could afford if a range was provided: "brand X will run around $$$ for a 12x16 L shaped design or about ##cabinets whereas brand Y will run $$$ for the same configuration and options". That has not been my experience,yet! The "big boxes" display pricing on their kitchen displays, but carry limited brands. The other cabinet stores that I've visited don't conceal their disdain of "big boxes" and uniformly claim that the "big boxes" don't offer the best prices and value. However, I have felt that their "sales push" is pushing me to visit the big boxes since not one of the three showrooms that I visited were candid with pricing. Undoubtedly, the "big boxes" will have their pitch, too!

In any event, the comparative cabinet price thread has helped me judge product that I may "afford" to look at. This thread has helped me judge the pricing considerations, thanks to all the members' comments!

@ Daveinorlando,
Are dealer costs for other brands (ie. Medallion, Dynasty, Kemper, Decora) similar to the range you provided for Starmark (about 30% of MSRP)?

@ daveinorlando: As consumers you need to shop around and see who will give you the best deal with good service and reputation. The more honest companies will tell you about the promtion.

I agree wholeheartedly and don't want to pay an unreasonable markup. Your advice has been great !

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 1:25AM
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I still have the email from StarMark. The 10%/15% and upgrades end Oct 1st. If you want me to send that to you, send an email to ninhar @ (remove spaces)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 2:23PM
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I have not had relationships with Medallion, Dynasty, Kemper, Decora to know their price.

I am a straight shooter and find it so interesting to read this message board. I am here to learn the mind of perspective buyers and what is happening to them around the country to learn of ways to improve.

I find it amazing that so many people state that an itemized estimate is rare find. Also that cabinet shopping is worse than buying a car. I have only bought a few in my life I keep them till they die.. I hated my expierence buying autos! That is a disgrace to the industry I chose to be in. I personally love the kitchen remodel process becasue it is a mini design build expierence where you can be proud of your kitchen when you are done.

I have stated many times that people from this site need to compare discounts from MSRP to find the average per brand and then you can see if you are being given a good price. I am begining to think that most people on this site go to retail locations based on show room appearance and equate the quality of displays with the quality of the business.

The computer design software I use is Pro kitchen. It is less expensive then the more popular 20/20 that many of the stores use. The program has a data base of symbols for the cabinets organized by cabinet maker. A material list is generated from the symbols placed on the drawing that references MSRP of all the items placed on the drawing with relevant options. It is so easy to have the material list print out as a line by line estimate which is how I do it.

Stores do not want to take the 2-4 hours it takes to produce a design that you can send to countless places to see who has the best deal. I can understand that to a certain extent. To me what does it matter the individual cost per item or the total as the items create the total.

I had a customer in Orlando who I worked with for weeks providing quotes using different cabinet companies to get a price lower then the first go round. All my estimates were itemized line by line including all options to the custom cabinets. The husband got upset with me to the point of being almost rude that the other cabinet companies would not itemize the quotes so they could compare them to mine. I was amazed at his disdain towards me when I was the only company that gave him the info he wanted. I was told to make the kitchen fully loaded on exterior look and interior function which I did. They had 30 lineal feet of cabinetry 39" wall cabinets with crown and light rail soft close drawers and doors factory built intergal side panels on all exposed cabinets. 1 piece wainscott panels on the backs of the island and so on. Their price varied between approx $9,500 and $12,000 depending on door style chosen.

The competition had a similar door style for 10,000 no crown no light rail and no upgrades. They went with the competition instead of asking me prepare a quote with out all the options. They asumed that I would not be able to match the competition because my detailed estimate gave them the ability to subtract out the options costs to see where the price would be without the extras. I would have made approx $3,000 on the $12,000 estimate. If they had asked me what was my price instead of assuming and said to me the competition is at $10,000 and been willing to show the paperwork I could have easily made another estimate with out the bells and whistles and seen my cost and decided what I was willing to negotiate to. I could have beat the competition easily. They assumed things they did not know or ask. We both lost. I could have given them a better price and we both would have been better off.

Do not assume things wether you have a written total cost or a lump sum. Go to smaller stores that are more family owned get your quotes from each company and then share them with the competition and say can you beat this. You will be taken much more seriously if you have a honest written quote than a verbal story of your prices to compare.

I am actually to the point where I am going to offer instead of free quotes as I do now to charging $150 for quote and measurement that is refundable if you do not purchase with me and you show me what the quote is you are going to buy and if I can not get the business for any reason and I then see a signed agreement I will refund the money. That way I will atleast see how I am losing to my competition and have a chance to learn and improve.

Many dealers do not get the sales they want after working for them. Honesty is the best policy for all involved. Treat your perspective dealers and contractors as you want to be treated and you might be surprised what will happen.

We have consumers playing games with us all the time. It sounds as though the dealers are doing it in kind. You have to be the adult to end the games and go with a straight face. The beauty of a free market is you are able to compare as many prices as possible. Take your written quotes and use them to your advantage and quit worrying about if I say the budget they sales person will set the price to the budget. So what if they do. Take the quote to the next guy and ask if they can beat and repeat the process until you reach the bottom price. Then size the company up and see if expierence and reputation are adequate if so you found a good deal.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 12:54AM
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OK GW'ers I think I'm back in the game and getting very excited to think this remodel thing can happen.

Going back to my original posting; original designer has returned to selling cabinets "part time" which, as it turns out, is becoming more "full time" again with their business perking up! My designated "stand in designer" is no longer there (her leaving was NOT related to the whole spiff thing)and -- here's the biggie -- and Showplace cabinets are having a big sale that turns out will really help me.

The Showplace cabinets are selling with a $20 per cabinet rebate to the homeowner -- not a spiff to the designer -- OR half price on wood specie charges! That gets me really excited so we're back off to think about getting something done before its time to carve the next turkey!!

DH thinks I need to get a life but I've been dreaming of a new kitchen for so long and just felt it wouldn't happen; now I think it might! :) :)

Stay tuned ...

Can you tell I'm excited?

Here is a link that might be useful: Showplace cabinets on sale! Yippee!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 5:39PM
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Showplace is philisophically opposed to sales SPIF's and always opts to create promotions that benefit the homeowner directly.

I know this string is old, but came across it and felt compelled to weigh-in assuming some interested parties will still find this.

daveinorlando, you mention that Starmark has never offered you a SPIF and that is very likely true; it is clear that SPIF's are not always offered to every dealer, nor is the value of the SPIF always the same to every dealer that Starmark offers them to. In my book this doesn't live within the spirit of the Robinson-Patman Act, but I'm not a lawyer so take that with a grain of salt.

Here is a 3 and a half minute computer generated video discussing cabinet SPIFs. Interesting info to ponder for homeowners shopping for cabinets.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cabinet Sales SPIF

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 10:08AM
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Just taking a minute to revisit this old post. We sure appreciate your concerns and can see how it can be confusing.

This is an interesting discussion, and it's one of the reason I love working in the building industry. As far as the discussion goes on compensation whether straight salary, commission or spiff/incentives like most things, it isn't so much how people get paid but how the compensation is designed and managed.

At Starmark, we have three main priorities when it comes to compensation. The 1st is that we attract and keep the best kitchen designers and the 2nd is that they value the customer and the benefits of referrals for a job well done and 3rd that they make sure that customer is thrilled with their new kitchen.

I think we can all agree that having someone who will work for the least amount of money is probably not in anyone's best interest, especially yours.

At the end of the day, we are all customers of one good or another and the things that matter most are getting what we want at the best value.

Thanks for voicing your concerns and especially for your consideration of Starmark's line of cabinetry.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 5:11PM
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