Kitchen Solvers Franchise Review: An Interview with Co-Owner William Newkirk of Palm Harbor, FL
Brothers and entrepreneurs, William Newkirk and Shane Svarczkopf, thriving with their Kitchen Solvers partnership.
William Newkirk and Shane Svarczkopf opened Kitchen Solvers of the Gulf Coast in May 2009, where they serve Florida’s Tampa Bay area. Newkirk’s experience in the home construction industry and Svarczkopf’s desire to pursue his home remodeling hobby full-time, led to a partnership that has seen increasing sales annually over the last three years.
We spoke with William and asked why the brothers decided to go into a Kitchen Solvers franchise partnership, and their plans for future growth.
What were you doing before Kitchen Solvers?
I previously worked as a project manager in the home building industry since 2001 and Shane worked in the IT industry. Several years ago, the Florida housing market took a dive and many companies in the construction industry started going out of business, leaving my career uncertain. Shane has always been good at home remodeling projects and had an interest in pursuing that full-time.
Collectively, we decided to go into partnership and pursue a franchise opportunity. It worked out great because I already had the professional construction experience needed to meet the licensing requirements.
How did you find out about Kitchen Solvers?
Shane did a lot of the searching online and found a handful of franchise opportunities that sounded interesting, which we narrowed down to a few franchise options. We also researched the small home remodeling niche and realized it hadn’t taken a huge hit like the construction industry following the housing market collapse. After discovering Kitchen Solvers, we got more information about the company and both felt like it would be a good fit.
What do you like about the job?
What I always enjoyed about working in the construction industry was the start to finish process and ultimately being able to walk homeowners into their new home. Shane has always been a builder and has really enjoyed the opportunity to turn his hobby into a career.
With Kitchen Solvers, we get the most satisfaction from seeing the joy in our customers’ faces after we’ve completed a project. It’s also very exciting to take something that’s so outdated and transform it into something beautiful.
What sets Kitchen Solvers apart?
When we were first considering a Kitchen Solvers franchise, we took a trip to meet with the owners in early 2009 and were especially impressed with the leadership. Kitchen Solvers is a growing, family-oriented company that is headed in the right direction. From the quality of materials we use, to the way they teach franchise owners the RIGHT way to do things, they are second to none with the level of professionalism and expertise they are able to provide.
Who makes a good Kitchen Solvers franchisee? What attracted you to it?
Someone with an entrepreneurial drive as well as a technical knowledge of craftsmanship would be well-suited as a franchise owner. Knowing the business side of things would also be a great benefit.
For Shane and me, the business end of the franchise was a bit of a learning curve. Fortunately, Kitchen Solvers really helped us with all of the startup business matters we hadn’t considered — from marketing to contract templates and everyday business materials. That level of support really put us at ease.
How large is the opportunity?
It’s really up to you and depends on how hungry you are to be successful. Success can cover all ranges. Some owners prefer to use their franchises as a side business, while others make it a full-time career. The opportunity scale is tremendous depending on what you’re hoping to achieve. Our territory has increased sales each year since we’ve opened and our goal is to continue growing and ultimately become one of Kitchen Solvers’ larger franchises.
Who are your main customers? Who are your best customers?
Our primary demographic is 40- to 50-year-olds who are well-established with a median annual income of $100,000 to $150,000. Our business is middle of the road — not extremely high or low end. Our customers come from three primary sources: home shows, networking groups and referrals. We’ve gotten a lot of our customers from Angie’s List, which is very popular in this area. To us, that’s a quality customer, because they already have a good feel for our business and what we can do based on customer reviews.
What types of work are you getting more of?
We work primarily in kitchens, which can involve either full kitchen remodels or cabinet refacing. Our work is about evenly split between the two, with an occasional bathroom or countertop project thrown in.
How long do most jobs take?
Cabinet refacing usually takes less than a week. A full kitchen remodel takes longer. We usually give clients a three to four week turnaround from start to finish.
What would be a big and a small job for Kitchen Solvers, in terms of the bill?
An average size cabinet refacing project can start as low as $3,000 and go up to $6,500. An average full kitchen remodel usually ranges from $10,000 to $15,000.
What does your typical day look like?
No day is ever the same, which is one of the joys of owning a Kitchen Solvers franchise. We are home-based, so our days usually start by answering emails first thing in the morning. We are typically on the job site at 9 a.m. — giving our customers time to get up and ready for the day — until around 5 p.m. We may have to leave early to take a sales call or handle deliveries. Things are always changing, so it’s a very “fly by the seat of your pants” mentality. Then we wrap up the day at home answering more emails.
Do you own one territory, or several? Do you have plans to expand to additional territories?
We currently own one territory but definitely have plans to grow in the future. In fact, there are available territories directly to our north and south. We had our contract built in such a way to have the first right of refusal to purchase the adjoining southern territory. We also intentionally named our franchise “Gulf Coast” because our goal is to eventually grow up and down the coast, with the potential of owning up to three territories.
What is a secret to your success?
We’ve worked hard to not be the typical contractor. There are a lot of contractors in Florida who don’t show up on time, won’t return calls and present themselves unprofessionally. We wanted to focus on exceptional customer service. All of these things go a long way with our customers. Of course, doing a fantastic kitchen remodel or cabinet refacing doesn’t hurt either. Our success is directly tied to the quality of work and service we are able to provide.
What does franchise ownership allow you to do that you couldn’t before?
It allows us to be our own boss, make our own decisions and have free time when we need it. More importantly, it allows us to ultimately be in control of our own success or failure. That’s the biggest satisfaction that comes from owning a franchise.
Would you recommend a Kitchen Solvers franchise to someone else?
Absolutely, as long as they’re not looking to open in the territories north or south of us! We’ve met with prospects in the past that have gone on to open their own Kitchen Solvers franchises. Kitchen Solvers is a strong company headed in the right direction. The kitchen remodeling industry is always going to be around and constantly growing. Kitchen Solvers has been in the business of perfecting the product and I only expect it to get better.