Communication is Key

This past week, I learned that communication and following through are most vital in sales, jobs or a relationship in or outside of the business.

We had a customer that was eager to order stone panels for their fireplace mantel. However, When natural stone is chosen, we always make aware that there is always chance that there will be variation in all stone. We inform all customers of this, however, sometimes new homeowners are so excited and anxious to  start the design process that they’re willing to take chances about the physical appearance and aesthetic of varying product. With this said, they were not interested in ordering an updated sample of the natural stone panels. Unfortunately, when they receive the ordered stone, the product’s color varied from our showroom sample piece.

One of the spouses had placed the order and the other had originally seen the product before ordering; their was a lack in communication about checking with the other in regards to whether they should order an updated sample or not. Because of this, they wished for the manufacturer to take back their special order in replace of other product or to refund. This can become an issue when dealing with different manufacturers due to their policy. Fortunately, the manufacturer was willing to take back the disliked product order. However, we had placed a new  order for updated samples for the showroom and clients, and the manufacturer took two weeks to get the product to use because they had forgotten to send use the newly requested samples.

Normal lee time on special orders is five to seven business; however, because the manufacturer forgot to ship out new samples, this caused a lack of communication or awareness of the situation from the manufacturer to us and from us to the clients. Moreover, this lack in follow through and notification from the manufacturer’s end caused us to contact the manufacturer’s reps and points of contact multiple times in efforts to track down the sample tiles and find out what the issue was. Due to their internal issue of lack of communication and follow through, this effected our ability to efficiently provide samples back to our clients in standard time.  However, the issue had been resolved after the manufacturer reassured us that they would send out new samples as soon as possible and would refund our clients due to the discolor/inconsistency of the product from the sample.

This was a learning lesson for all of us as while we always inform our customers of the chance of variation in natural stone and offer the option of ordering an updated sample, we now will enforce this so our clients know EXACTLY what end product they will be receiving when dealing with natural stone. Moreover, we realize that while sometimes things accidentally fall between the cracks on the other end, we will continue to contact and be persistent to solve the issue and find the solution!

 

Reflected Experiences

This past week, I actually presented to UK 101 design class on my experiences thus far as a design student, intern, and participant in the shadow-ship program through UKCoD. It was really rewarding to have the opportunity to share personal endeavors and experiences I have had since I began my journey at Mees and within the School of Interiors.

I explained to the class how I heard of the opportunity to work as a PAID design intern at Mees and how I tailored a design resume as well as went through two interviews to receive the internship. Moreover, I explained how my internship blossomed into what is so far a three year employment and have gained broad experience co-working with others in the design field as well as assisting licensed interior designers within the state of Kentucky who bring their clients into Mees to help pull together different materials for their projects. Something that I really harped on during my presentation was not being afraid to reach out to others and get outside your comfort zone to seek opportunities for yourself. As I had reached out to Mees on my own, I reaped the benefits of what was only to be a one semester paid internship that had turned into a permanent part-time job. Then I was able to later  earn internship credit for my continual work at Mees. Moreover, I have learned an extensive amount about product beyond tile, such as different natural stone like granite and marble, as well as its applications and adjacent products, such as grout and transition strips. One of the cool things about working as a design consultant in a showroom is that I get to work with real clients as well as their designers. For example, we had one of the interior designers come in from Anderson  & Rodgers, located out of Lexington, who brought a couple in who were building their new house. they were interested in two tiles from the Fiandre French Clay series: the 12×24 Sombre and the Flume. The couple originally matched both tiles with a coordinating 4×12 subway tile of the same colorways but then switched to two different mosaics from the manufacturer Onyx. The mosaics were 12×12 sheets of  1×1 squares of mixed material such as porcelain and glass with an iridescent touch.  My showroom manager was working directly with the designer and the couple while Elizabeth and I assisted in collecting tile dimensions, pricing and providing our personal feedback. It is always a great learning experience to see how a real designer interacts with her clients as well as allied workers in the field. The designer was extremely obliging, bubbly and quick to help pull samples and  provide appropriate design advice. She also was very understanding and empathetic with her clients, realizing that the design choices made were very important as they were permanent unless changed otherwise. Overall, I appreciated the process that was taking place and learned through observation how to communicate and collaborate on ideas with your client and allied designers for the best possible design solutions. Thinking back to my presentation  I gave on Tuesday to my experiences at Mees this week, I really am thankful of the design experiences AND opportunities I have received through UK as well as at my internship at Mees.

Below, I have included a link to the tile series which the designer and clients were incorporating into their master bathroom and guest bathroom.

http://www.granitifiandre.com/porcelain-tile/made-in-usa/french-clay/sombre/

Who knows about ADA?

This past week, there was gentleman who came into Mees with questions about the waterproof shower system we carry called Wedi, and what we knew about ADA codes. I had asked him what his project was and he informed me that he was remodeling an apartment bathroom to be ADA compliant. He said the tenants of the apartment needed to be able to navigate throughout the space in a wheelchair. He had shown me his quick sketch of the shower and I saw that he did not have enough space for a five foot turning radius for an accessible wheel chair which is crucial for his  client. His stand up shower was only three feet in deep and four feet wide and he had a toilet sticking out from the right wall that took up close to two feet. As the toilet was protruding into the walk space, his options for fixing the issue were to orient the toilet in a different direction and change the plumbing, knock out the opposing wall to make for more width in the shower, drop his shower pan so he did not need to build a  small ramp for the wheel chair, or potentially water proof the bathroom and make the entire bathroom as accessible so his client did not have to squeeze into a tight shower. My boss and I reviewed our Wedi shower pans with him and the shower drain options. We sell three by five, five by six and five by seven shower pans which you can cut down to fit your shower better. We also have on center drains and offset shower drains both in circular and linear options.

One of his concerns was whether or not he needed 1 x1 inch tiles or if he could use 2 x 2 inch. If he used the larger 2 x 2 size tiles, he was concerned there would not be as great of a pitch to the shower drain, which could cause water to build up and not drain out. If he used the smaller  1 x 1 shower tile, he thought he may not have to change out the shower pan or drop it lower. As he was not 100 percent certain on all ADA codes, he shared with me that he really enjoyed doing this kind of remodel work  (ADA remodel) as he felt he was giving back and doing good in some form of way, he really wanted to learn how to properly build an ADA compliant space.To my surprise, he said he had contacted a number of sources to try to learn more about the standards and requirements, having contacting contractors and even officials who are in part of the ADA legislation. However, he struggled to get any solid help or feedback. I had suggested he get in contact with a certified interior designer, particularly one who specializes in kitchen and bath who has knowledge and experience in ADA accessible spaces. He exclaimed that was the best suggestion he has had yet. Moreover, he did not even realize that a wheel chair needed at least a five foot turning radius. While  I am still a student and am no expert in this area of design, I felt like I was applying what I had learned in school at work and was able to help someone else in the design work field advance on a job.

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SOHO TILE IS ALWAYS THE FAVORITE!

This past week had been a fast and crazy one. For studio on Monday, my class took a roadtrip to Chicago and arrived back in Lexington on Wednesday. Needless to say, my work week started on Thursday instead of Tuesday. However, I jumped back into the showroom, sorting through new sample pieces and contacting the manufacturers for updated price sheets. One of the new series that Mees received was Soho’s new line of Baroque mosaics, featuring a Crackled, Floret, Lantern, and Ornate collection. All of the Baroque collections came in four color ways in a crackled or glazed finish. These are some of the more unique series that we have in our showroom as we do not have matching collections to the Floret, Lantern, or Ornate. Moreover, I am personally a fan of the Floret collection due to its organic lines, shape and color ways. The Floret also features a blend of both glazed and marble tile within the pattern. Overall, the design of the mosaic  reminds me of dolphin tails or sea plants.

 

SOHO’S website: http://www.sohostudiocorp.com/baroque

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BLOG 7: 6 FOOT, 7 FOOT, 8 FOOT….

One of the most applicable tasks that I have had to do at Mees which I can apply to my own work in design is calculating square footage. Before I began working at Mees tile,  I knew VERY little about what a  “square foot” actually meant, or how many inches are in a square foot. One thing that I had to pick up quickly was standard tile dimensions and how to calculate how much square footage there was per installation job. A square foot is 12 inches by 12 inches, which gives you 144 square inches. So, 144 inches equals one square foot. If I had to find out how many square feet there were in a shower install, I would take the number of inches provided per side of wall (ex. 60 inches x 108 inches) and divide it by 144 gives you the total square feet of that particular part of the shower. In this case there would be 45 square feet on that one side of the wall. If the inches were converted already into feet (60 inches = 5 feet) than you would multiply 6 by 9 (108 inches = 9 feet) to get 45 square feet. All this may seem like simple math, but sometimes it can get confusing when you are converting feet to inches or vise versa.

This past Tuesday, I helped one of my co-workers find the approximate square feet needed to tile part of her client’s bathroom. Below I have include a quick sketch and calculations to demonstrate how I figured the total square feet of the shower and half wall.

 

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BLOG 6: HAMMER + NAIL

This week at Mees, we had a number of customers come back in to return samples, check out new samples, and place orders. One of the couples that I had blogged about previously, came back to review the travertine samples they were interested in ordering for their bathroom install. My manager, Elizabeth and I sat down with the very excited and curious couple to discuss their options as to whether they wanted to install natural travertine on their floor or if they wanted to go the safer route and install porcelain tile that would mimic the look of the natural stone. The benefits of using a porcelain tile versus a natural stone for the field tile (the main floor tile) would be that the couple would not have to seal it as it is not porous or a natural material which requires more care and maintenance. Moreover, porcelain is more dense and durable than travertine which is a much more delicate and porous material, even more so than marble or granite. The couple had realized that after they had check out an 18×18″ field tile which accidentally broke in half while they had it. This thought was further supported by the exchange I had with one of the sales reps from a manufacturer that produced one of the travertine samples the couple was interested in. The rep explained how his company hand makes the travertine tiles and that they are able to take custom orders, but are unable to produce 18×18″ field tiles due to its fragility in that size.

After showing the couple numerous porcelain samples we stock, they realized it would be more economical and less maintenance required if they went with this option for the bathroom floor. However, they  still wanted to integrate the look of durango into the space by using the cobbled edge 3×6″ travertine subway tile inside the shower 2/3rds of the way up the walls. The couple also decided on using a durango pencil liner to use as transition piece between the wall field tile and the subway tile. For the shelving, the couple decided to purchase one of our Wedi products, a 100 percent waterproof recessed vertical shelf. Overall, the couple was very pleased with the design of their shower install and plan on placing their order after they checking out a field tile to be 100 percent certain on their choice.

Also, on Saturday, Elizabeth and  I worked on redoing a couple of our wall displays. The beautiful marble mosaics we hung are produced by the manufacturer, Adko. While one may not think hanging tile mosaics would take a long time, it took the two of us a bit of time nailing, hammering and re-nailing to get the mosaics balanced, centered and just right!

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BLOG 5: TILE INSTALL GALORE

 

This past week at Mees flew by…partly because we were so busy with customers and in-store  interior changes! On Tuesday, my manager, Michele, was out of town so she had made a helpful to-do list for my co-worker Jennifer, Elizabeth and myself to try to tackle. First on the list was to pull samples that were no longer carried by its manufacturers. One of the samples was from the MSI Ledgerstone series that I have previously blogged  about. Others were  samples from the manufacturer Antico Stone, within the Ciotolli Series.  What I have learned from working with manufacturers and meeting different reps is that certain product can be back-ordered (depending on popularity and stock),   or be discontinued depending on frequency of orders, etc. Sometimes certain manufacturers allow for tile only to be ordered in palettes . This can cause the estimated shipping time to vary depending on whether or not there are multiple tile orders to make up one palette to send.

After we sort through old, low in stock, or discontinued samples, we allow for new space for other product to be displayed. This past week, Elizabeth helped reorganize one of our sale display racks, which I believe she had organized based on tile dimensions and color.  (I have included a picture at the bottom!)

Moreover, this past week I had followed up with a customer on their interest in the Interceramic Retro Series 8×8 tile in the tile colors, burgundy and almond. The customer, based out of Texas, needed 145 SF of each color for a job in Lexington. My customer had called a week ago to find out if we could special order this particular tile because we do not stock it in our showroom. After contacting Interceramic and speaking with a sales rep, I learned that they had both colors in stock, but I had to get a direct shipping quote via a ground shipping company. After phoning a number of shipping companies, I received the best shipping quote from FedEx, which I then informed my customer on their approximate cost for special ordering. After a week, my customer had given me the OK to place the order and get it on its way. From there, I had to fill out a special order form which included information such as: manufacturer, series, color, dimensions, customer contact information, etc. This is important as we fax our special orders to our headquarters in our Louisville location who places and handles all special orders, fabricating, and stock  transfers that are distributed. Not often do I always get to write up special order forms, so when I do,  I see them as a great learning experience, as it helps me better understand the process between the manufacturer, distributor and customer.

Something that was exciting that I got to see take place in the shop was a new install of a wall mosaic that my manager had picked out to have on display. What was really neat about this tile installation was that it was taking place while Elizabeth and I were working so we got the chance to sit back and watch the layment process unfold. Through the process, I noted that our trusted tile-man used a trowel an rubber hammer to thin-set, tile and grout.  I have include photos to help show a little of the process below!

 

 

Elizabeth sorting through  one of our sale displays!IMG_3741.jpg

 

Our mosaic tile getting laid!

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