More than any other area of the home, kitchens succumb to outdated styles and wear more quickly than other rooms, which makes kitchen improvement a hot area. That's old news to Carrie and John Bordenkircher, who haven't been without work since they opened their Dayton, Ohio, Kitchen Solvers franchise in 1997.
"It's been so busy, we haven't had a problem finding work. Our biggest challenge is keeping it," says Carrie, who left a job as a full-time CPA to pursue owning a business.
For a little less than $35,000, the Bordenkirchers bought a Kitchen Solver franchise. In 1999, their gross sales were $225,000, a figure they surpassed in May 2000.
The Bordenkirchers' niche is in the area of cabinet refacing, which has seen changes in recent years. "People are becoming more aware of the refacing process and are finding that, thanks to new products on the market, you can get the look of custom cabinetry for significantly less money," says Carrie. "The process has become upscale-with real wood and new designs, and it's usually half the cost of replacement."
Trends in kitchens are changing faster than ever before, and it's the Bordenkirchers' job to keep up with the times and offer clients updated styles. "People see pictures and articles about new stain colors, door designs, color combinations and accessories," she says. "Kitchens have also become increasingly user-friendly. When customers see a new look, we encourage them to show us, and we provide it."
Homes aren't anything new-the difference is people are staying in them longer. Whatever franchise you choose in the home-improvement industry, providing customers with attractive, affordable, up-to-date ideas and options can lead to a lot of business in this lucrative market.
Julie Bawden Davis is an Orange, California, writer who specializes in small and homebased business issues. She often contributes to the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and Entrepreneur's Start-Ups magazine.