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I just wanted a change and I just found that Kvik was the right place to go because it joined design, kitchens and cooking that I love and a modern approach to clients.

— Miguel Zafon

Today we’re talking to one of our franchisees, Miguel Zafon. He opened Kvik Valencia Sorni in a lovely former bank building in the heart of Valencia at the height of the coronavirus epidemic. Since we spoke to him, he has opened his flagship store, Kvik Alfafar. When we were there, it was just an empty lot, but we visited it and talked to Miguel about his dreams for the store. You’ll hear more about that in this episode.

We’re a franchise concept and we have nearly 200 stores in 12 countries. We have ambitious growth plans and want to open even more - we currently have 65 available openings for franchisees on our website and in total, we are looking to grow by at least 100 more stores! So if you’ve got an internal entrepreneur that’s itching to get out, have a look at our website and see if there’s an opening near you. We are looking for people who want to be their own boss with a strong concept, product and team to support them. You don’t necessarily need a background in the kitchen industry, as you’ll find out in this conversation with Miguel. All you need is a desire to combine the things you’re passionate about and a willingness to work hard to build your business. 

Please note that this page is a transcript of the episode.

Beautiful kitchens at crazy low prices

Miguel: I’m Miguel. 42-years-old. Born in Valencia. I have three girls. I love my family. A nice wife. Amazing wife. We have been here in the Kvik project for the last two years now. It will be two years next month. I had no former experience with kitchens.

I have been for the last 15 years working in the IT world as an engineer but I love design and I went through a nice experience building my own house one year before we discover the world of Kvik. Spent a lot of time going to kitchen stores. I think I went through five of them because I also love cooking.

So after all that experience I just run into the Kvik project on an event we had here in Valencia. I was going with one of my friends. He was trying to find his next project, his career. So I met the guy from Kvik there. That was the first time I checked one of their magazines. They look amazing. I think they’re like art objects we can find there. 

So I check my first Kvik magazine and I found out they were amazing kitchens in there and prices were crazy.

Julie: Crazy how? Crazy good?

Miguel: Crazy low.

Julie: Crazy low. Okay.

Miguel: Crazy low. Because as I told you I have built my own kitchen some months ago and I had all those prices on my mind so I could check that prices were really, really low if you compare it with the good looking of the kitchen and after that I found out the quality was also really amazing. So we had these nice products with nice prices in one side.

So I start making questions about the kind of clients or the target that Kvik is pointing with their products and what’s their strategy about how they approach the market. It’s full online.

It’s crazy also because you can just open a kitchen store and I just don’t want to sit down and wait for people to come in because that’s like playing lottery. You never know every day who is going to go in.

In this case Kvik had an approach that they had a really big marketing department investing a lot of money to get your clients into the store. That’s what they call bookings. And they can tell you how many bookings you’re going to have a week.

So in our case right now it’s like 65% of our business is coming through the marketing channel and that as an entrepreneur gives you a lot of confidence to run a business because you know that most part of the clients, they are going to find them for you. You don’t have to go out to hunt them. They are doing that on the internet. I understand mainly through Facebook and Instagram. And you can then predict a big part of your income with that too.

Location and the right marketing

Julie: Kvik’s marketing is entirely digital - we market online on social channels, meeting customers where they are - whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest or wherever. Customers can choose a time and book an appointment directly with the store via our website. So, our marketing is national, but it has a strong effect locally. 

Miguel’s store is in the heart of Valencia, in a prime location on a corner, so you can see it from two directions. It was once upon a time a bank and it’s small, but in a very high traffic area, with big windows that showcase our Danish design kitchens to passersby. 

But you have a great location too don’t you? It’s in the heart of the city.

Miguel: Yes. We found it after many months looking for it. I really strongly believe that retail is about location, location, location. I had previously some experiences with retail but in another industry. And we had a really hard time finding this place but finally we found a corner. It’s crystal full windows so how do you call that. Well it’s really big windows. So you can check all of the store from outside.

So these two streets there are joining in this corner and that really go straight to the main commercial street in the city. So we usually get between 30–50 people a day inside the store and I can tell you normal kitchen studios around the area that they don’t work with this kind of marketing tools and they don’t work with bookings, I know because I stepped in one of those to buy my own kitchen, maybe they can have two or three people a day going in. And we have between 30 and 50. And because of the place we are and also really because of the marketing Kvik has to make these people come in. 

One of the crazy things is that you open the store and you have clients from day one because marketing has been doing its job some weeks before.

— Miguel Zafon

Miguel: We have also three different ways of attending people. We have a normal booking. Two hours that we have with this potential client in store. We usually call him for him to send us before he comes all the drawings, inspiration and blueprints we can find so we can just..

Julie: And the measurements of their kitchen.

Miguel:  So we can have something before they come and if we can be ready, it will take us one hour and a half to go through the concept to him. Maybe start choosing things. And we really take our time to explain the sustainability strategy that Kvik has because we’re really working with 90 something percent of recycled materials and that really counts more than ever right now. Clients are really sensitive to this.

Julie: Are they asking for it?

Miguel: Of course. And we can proudly say that we are number one in the world with these kind of things. And they love when we tell this story. So that’s a nice thing to tell.

We choose some of the materials. We sit down and also really nice thing that I think Kvik has and not much more people is that you can come to a store, talk about your kitchen and step out with your drawings, with your renders and with your first budget, with your first quotation on the first visit.

So many other places around they just take some two weeks to send you through the email if they really feel interested in your projects and that they never answer. If you are looking into buying a kitchen or you are looking for your next kitchen, you don’t want to wait so much. We also find out that people that come into the store and ask for a quotation, if you wait more than two or three weeks to contact them again, they have already bought the kitchen in another place.

Julie: Is that right? Okay.

Miguel: So we have to make a good follow-up on that.

Julie: So you actually give them, you make the drawing with them during that meeting..and then they leave with the drawings?

Miguel: Of course. They leave with a nice printed renders, the quotation and also some documents we have done so they can really know what’s going to happen in the next steps if they buy the kitchen from us.

Because we are really quick also with delivering the kitchens. We had some problems in the past with all the Corona with materials but right now we are more or less one hundred percent again with the materials. So if they come and want the kitchen for as soon as possible, we can make it in less than one month. That’s crazy times for the kitchen world. We have our truck coming from Denmark every week. So we can just place the order every week for the next 30 days.

A central warehouse with room to grow

Julie: And you have a warehouse. You have a small store but you have a warehouse.

Miguel: We have a warehouse like 50 minutes away where we make the pre-mounting of the kitchens so it happens more or less this way. So if anyone then hears this can understand how his kitchen is going to be built and delivered. So we show the quotation and we show the project to the client. He makes the payment or the first deposit to book the promotion so we can after this payment we can just stick with his project and give discounts for the next 12 months. Even if he’s making a rebuilding or renovation and it’s going to take some time, after this first deposit we book the promotion for 12 months.

Julie: So you can secure that you’re getting that offer. Like you would buy during Black Friday but maybe you’re putting in your kitchen next March or whatever right? I didn’t know that was how it worked. I’m learning something.

Miguel: After that that doesn’t mean that you can’t change anything. That first movement is just to secure the promotion. After that still you can change everything. We will make you change things after that because after that we send an architect to your house to make the professional measurements because most of the times clients comes to the store with some drawings that they have made on their own and they’re not so professional. That’s normal.

Julie: And maybe not entirely accurate.

Miguel: For example it’s really important the angles of the walls. They’re never straight so we have to go there and with professional tools we make measurements and we make sure that the project can be installed the same way we have drawn at the store. It’s never that way so that measurements or people changes the project to make it fit. So we call the client again to the store and we go again through the project. Maybe this second meeting can be done in one hour.

Two stores was the plan from the beginning

Julie: As you can hear, it didn’t take Miguel too long to go from IT engineer to kitchen expert.

From the beginning, Miguel planned to open two stores - a larger, flagship store and the smaller city store as a satellite. Then a certain global pandemic intervened and the plans changed, but two stores is still his plan.

And you’re actually gonna open another store aren’t you?

Miguel: Yes. This little store we have been driving for the last two years in the city centre was supposed to be the second store. I think we call these kind of stores satellite stores. And usually first movement is to open a main store. Around three hundred square meters, usually or between 200 and 400, where you can really show all the kitchens that we have in the catalogue. And the time to open that store I think it’s going to come.

We have been dealing with the licenses for the last two years. And we can say now we have some machines working on the spot because a new building has to built from scratch and after the building is built, it should be ready in February more or less. We will come in to build the exposition. This construction team they have in Kvik, they work really fast.

Yes. If you want to see the glass half full instead of half empty, all these delays they have been having for this master store drove me to the point that the store is going to be open with a new concept. I have been writing down on my computer on OneNote folder all the ideas I would like to put on the new store for the last two years. And I have to tell you, when we check on the national event they make every year..

Julie: Yeah. The annual meeting.

Built in our new Master Store concept

Julie: We presented a new design for our stores at our annual meeting in 2022. We actually built an entire store at the event. It features all our kitchen designs in different sizes. The number of kitchens on display varies by the size of the store. There are plants and a lounge area and different meeting spots, so you don’t always just sit down across a desk, but you can meet with customers more informally.

Most important is our Design Zone, which has great lighting and big drawers with samples of all the different materials and a big surface where customers can play with different ideas.

Miguel: On the annual meeting in Herning, maybe half of the things I have been writing for the last two years were already done with the new concept, even I haven’t talked to anyone. So that was really nice to find out.

Julie: Things like what? What was..

Miguel: Things like the vertical gardens. Things like the spaces where you can just sit, not facing to one of these sales guys.

 

You will have to let people help you and make those little steps one by one and know the concept, know the way of selling. You sell Kvik kitchens in a different way.

— Miguel Zafon

The kitchens are really like home

Julie: Yes. Sitting across from them at a desk. It’s more casual right? Like a couch setup..

Miguel: Yes. The place we call the Design Zone where you will choose all your materials. It’s revealed from scratch where you can really join in a table all the different finishings, colours that you’re going to choose really in a best way than we have before. And also this big screen where you can inspire yourself with projects that have been built with the same material that you are choosing yourself. Many different things. And also they are working on a, I think it’s called an aroma just from Kvik stores.

Julie: Yes. There is. There is a scent. Yes. I can tell you the scent has been debated greatly.

Miguel:  [laughter] So many things you can find out and it really looks amazing. It’s really transmitting the concept and it’s really green. It’s really feels you can, the importance of the main thing that is for Kvik the sustainability of their kitchens. We always claim to kitchens (that our fronts) that made of recycled plastic bottles. But I don’t think they can imagine where they’re coming or what we’re talking about. And this time you can see these containers that they’re really containing the plastic bottles.

Julie: Yeah. You open the drawer and you see how many..

Miguel: When you open the drawers. So you’re explaining the concept and you just can open the door and check how many of these bottles they need to make one of these fronts. So I copied that idea from the meeting and right now I have one of these containers in my store.

Julie: So it’s a nice surprise you have when you show people around. 

A space for kids

Miguel: So I’m really happy with the new concept. I’m really happy the new store will have the new concept.

Julie: That’s great. That’s really awesome.

Miguel: Also for me to have one thing because you always can give your store some of you. You can give some, they give you some little space for personalisation and I have really empathy for people with little children because I have three little girls and they need the space to feel comfortable to go to a meeting and don’t have their kids running around.

So in one of these big stores you should have space for kids. At least one of the tables should be near to a kids’ friendly area so they can just play and go around for at least one hour and make the family feel okay, feel that their kids are not disturbing the rest of the store and just go through the process with their designer, not feeling bad for going there with the kids. So that’s one of the things I’m going to really go really strong..

Julie: And you don’t have space for that right now in your store.

Miguel: No. We don’t have space for that. Nothing.

Julie: I’ve seen that in some of the Kvik stores, like a little table where kids can draw and sometimes there’s Lego to play with.

Miguel: Yes but they’re really little spaces. I’m going to go big with this. [laughter]

Julie: That’s great.

Julie: We sell Danish design and that isn’t so well-known on the Spanish market. Danish design can be quite minimalist and the colours muted and Spanish style is a little bit more colourful, so how does Miguel talk to customers about Danish design? Do they come into his store looking for the minimalist aesthetic? Do Kvik’s products stand out on the Spanish market?

Miguel: Well I’m not a big Danish design expert. I can tell you I have been learning for the last two years. One of the main points for me is the different colours we work with because you can see other brands working with really strange colours. If you buy a kitchen with your doors with a strange colour, after four or five years you can feel really tired. It’s really strong colours. You can find yourself thinking oh dear, why did I choose that colour four years ago. So one of the things that Danish design has is that it has to last for a long time. Not only for the quality. Also for the concept you chose. So..

Julie: So the whole look of it has to be sort of timeless.

Miguel: Of course. So we’re working with really neutral colours. We work with white. We work with greys. We work with black. And we work with different kinds of woods. Mainly light and dark oak. We have two new really nice-looking colours for this year. One beige and one clay but they are all thought to last for a long time. They are all thought to be very neutral and to fit in your whole concept in your house. So if you go neutral with all your colours, you will have a nice-looking kitchen for a lot of time. When clients come to us with the pictures of their old kitchens, you can see who chose 25 years ago a neutral colour and who don’t and we really are looking for this kind of kitchen that will last for the next 20–25 years.

Julie: But the new beige, Arizona beige and clay, they are cool and trendy right now but they do feel timeless as well. They won’t be that thing you’re sick of in 5 years..

Miguel: We have the same with this light green that we launched with Ombra last year. It’s our second most sold kitchen by now.

Noliam is a winner

Julie: What’s your top selling kitchen?

Miguel: Right now we are in Linearis. Yes. Because that was a style that it’s really or was really trendy in Spain and now it’s everything is shifting to the new colours of Bordo because it’s really a good price and really good-looking. Right now in my case I remember the old Tacto. That was my favourite some years ago when we start with the Kvik brand but right now if I have to choose a kitchen myself I would go for the beige of Bordo. It’s really amazing.

Julie: Just a note - we still have Linearis, but the name has changed to Noliam and we just introduced it in two new colours - our very popular arizona beige and in a foil with a wood look. It’s our most affordable kitchen design in a lineup where all our kitchens have surprisingly low prices.

Miguel: We’re selling right now nearly four out of ten quotations we are making in the store. So it’s ten kitchens we make quotation in the store, we sell four of them. So..

Julie: And that’s a pretty good ratio isn’t it?

Miguel: That’s a crazy ratio. I can tell you, you can’t find that ratio in any other store. I don’t mean any other Kvik store. I mean in any other brand. I don’t know if they even know their ratios. Because here we measure everything. We measure how many people comes to the store. We measure how many people that comes into the store ends having a quotation and after that quotation we measure how many of them buys the kitchen. So we’re controlling all the funnel all the time and taking decisions with that information. And that’s the kind of business I like to run. 

Look for the spot and talk to Kvik because they’re going to support you during the process. They’re going to train you. They’re going to help you.

— Miguel Zafon

Training in all the aspects of the business

Julie: Not only does Kvik provide support around the data stores need to keep their business healthy, we also have retail consultants in each country and our Kvik Academy that provides all the necessary training, on kitchens and on the IT systems, like our drawing program, Kreator. 

Miguel: We have two different kind of supports. We have the team. Not only the IT team that is there looking everything. Also Kvik in Spain has a team to help stores that are running already right now and to help that people that comes into the project as new franchisees to start with all the process and to start with all the processes and training people. Training about product. Training about software. We’re using..

Julie: Is that the retail consultant as well who trains you in that? 

Miguel: Yes. So we have the academy in Denmark that is supporting the retail consultants. You go through a one-month process of training with this team. After that they are with you in the store for the first days you are open to help you with the first clients because one of the crazy things is that you open the store and you have clients from the day one because marketing has been doing his job some weeks before. So you open a store and you have like 20 bookings for the first week and you haven’t even opened the door.

Julie: Wow. That’s amazing.

Miguel: So that’s nice because you have your clients coming in from the first minute and also it gives you the pressure that you have to do your job. You have to be good from the first moment also. That’s why you have that support and that training before. Also Kvik prepares a really nice opening day with a red carpet, balloons and some food for clients. That’s nice. We all enjoy that day.

Julie: Opening a Kvik store is a big investment and you need a long-term business plan. Kvik actually has a team that can support you in creating the business plan, but ultimately, you are your own boss and you set your own goals. 

Miguel: You have to invest like 250,000 euros for each store. In our business plan with no delay we were getting our money back in year four and start winning money in year five. That was the business case. But we’ll get there..

Julie:  And now you’ve been delayed two years.

Miguel: But we’ll get there. I’m not really worried about this. We just, you just have to learn how to run the business. So that gross margin that it’s supposed to be 30–32 percent, we started with 22 because of our own mistakes but every new franchisee is going to go through that. So you have to start slowly.

You have to start hiring people when you need to hire them, thinking a lot about costs and waiting. Some maybe, you have to start some low profile, running low and then when you start learning more then grow with the business.

In my case we start really strong with all these things and really open with Kvik and after that we have to shift. It’s okay. We are okay. But I have been talking about this with the country manager a lot. [laughs] It’s not easy to go with the figures straight for any franchisee and just tell him, well maybe it’s just a matter that some of these new franchisees maybe they want what we call here auto-employment. You call the same?

Julie:  Like self-employment?

Miguel: Self-employment.  For me it’s a business to run and it should become a business. Maybe a six, seven million euros business with a structure, with people, with teams and that’s the ambition where I want to go. Where we will go. I’m sure about that.

But some of the approach of these first stores should be self-employment and if you make the approach in that way, I’m sure you can be profitable maybe second year. That’s to be profitable. Then to get your money back, some more time. But you’re not going to be rich with one Kvik store in Spain. I know that in Holland and all these countries they really sell more and the ticket they make for each kitchen is like twice what we make here. But not in Spain. So I think the approach should be different.

If you check all the franchisees in Spain they are all husband and wife. Because that’s self-employment of two. So if you have the two of them working in the store, then you don’t have to hire so much people. So then maybe the numbers will come faster. That was not my case. We have been shifting after some time to just be ready and not to lose money ‘til we open the second store.

Support from Kvik is amazing

Miguel: No. We’re okay. It’s just that you have to know and study the business plan and really adapt and really start and really think of every step. That’s a knowledge you know after some time. No one is born with the knowledge. You will have to let people help you and make those little steps one by one and know the business, know the concept, know the way of selling. You sell Kvik kitchens in a different way as other kitchens. We have a really good Academy. Allan is amazing. After one or two days of training with Allan our salespeople increase their sales like 50 percent. Immediately.

Julie: Wow. That’s amazing.

Miguel: That was crazy. Just changing the order of how were they talking with clients. So that’s a huge impact.

Julie: That’s powerful.

Miguel: So after those little steps and those learnings, you’re ready then to go fast but it’s just the steps you have to go through and the learning you have to go through. You have some extra margin from your Kvik goods for the first months that Kvik gives you to help you go through those first months. And everything helps.

In my opinion it’s more important to have experience in running a business than to have experience in the kitchen world. If you have run any kind of business, I think you are more prepared to start with a Kvik project than if you have been selling kitchens for 20 years. That’s my opinion. Because you are not going to sell kitchens. That’s just one part of the thing you’re going to need to do. You’re going to deal with purchasing. You’re going to deal with pre-mounting. You’re going to deal with calendars. You’re going to organise teams. You’re going to..

Julie: Manage people.

Miguel: Manage people of course. You’re going to make so many things. You have to present your taxes. You have to deal with licenses. Opening licenses. You will have to reveal a location. So if you have experience doing all these kind of things, it’s much more easy than if you have been selling kitchens for 20 years. That’s my opinion.

Make that three stores!

Julie: And of course we had to Miguel what advice he would give to someone who is considering a Kvik franchise for themselves. 

Miguel: The advice I will give to someone thinking about opening a new store in Spain would be to really love what he’s going to do, to really look for a nice spot and of course to really look for the right people. In my case I really believe in people. I spend a lot of time looking for the right people. I have never delegated this, I do it myself.  Because I really know where I want to be in five years. I really know what’s my vision and I’m pretty sure no one is going to talk about my vision better than me.

And it can be hard at the first time because we are opening new markets in Spain. The brand is not so well known. Right now they just have to step into one of the stores or check the website and they will really see what we’re doing. But good people are not unemployed at their houses. They are already working. So best advice from me would be go look for them. Talk to them about where you want to be. Talk to them about your vision. Make them check the product.

Make them check the website. Make them go to a store. We have now ten stores in Spain. Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona, Marbella, Bilbao. I’m sure they’re going to be close or they can drive to one of the stores and I’m sure after that they will be really motivated. They will like, they will be inspired of the stores, they look amazing. And after that look for the people.

Look for the spot and talk to Kvik because they’re going to support you during the process. They’re going to train you. They’re going to help you. They’re going to give you the opportunity to spend some time in one of the stores that are already running. They’re going to show you some of the stores outside of Spain. Some of the best stores you can find people that are delivering more than a thousand kitchens a year. So they really know how to do it. They really know how to sell. They really know every process that has to be done how to do it. Just jump into it.

Julie:  So where do you wanna be in five years?

Miguel: Well. [laughter] I start the journey always thinking about having three stores. I have the people ready to manage three stores. I have the warehouse ready to manage three stores. I’m ready to manage three stores. So we always knew the first two where they were going to be. One at south Valencia. Now it’s going to be the second. It was intended to be the first. One little good-looking cosy store in the city centre.

Julie: Beautiful city centre store. It’s really lovely. Yeah.

Miguel: That’s the one we’re running right now. And the third one we had some options in the table. My favourite spot is going to be near Alicante.

Julie: Very cool. Great goals.

The best part about kitchens — cooking in them.

Julie: And lastly, in a conversation about kitchens, we couldn’t resist asking Miguel about that love of cooking that was a key element in his choosing to talk to Kvik at that fateful franchise event back in 2019. 

Miguel: I have been married right now for 17 years and I cook all the time. But I like to do it because in my case cooking for me is the relaxing moment of the day because you have a busy day.

I like to buy fresh food for every day meal. So I ride my car to my house. Stop by the shop. Ten minutes. Choose the fish or choose the meat or choose the vegetables I’m going to have that day for dinner because I’m going to cook them so I like to choose them. Then I arrive home and I like to spend those 30–40 minutes not something quick. I would like to make a good meal because also when it’s not just for you. That you are making three little girls grow. You think more about that. To be more healthy. So we have always vegetables and fruit after whatever we have for dinner.

Julie: That’s great. So nice

If your interest in kitchens starts with cooking or even just loving food, it just might be the basis for a new venture in the kitchen business, like Miguel. Since we spoke, he has opened that second store, Kvik Alfafar. 

Kvik is a solid company, in business for more than 40 years,  with nearly 200 stores in 12 countries. If your interest is piqued and your inner entrepreneur awakened, check our website to see what opportunities are available in your area. We’ve got a link in the show notes. We have opportunities for taking over existing stores, as well as opening a brand new store in a new location. Maybe a career change to the kitchen business awaits!

We have to leave you with a podcast recommendation. If you just can’t get enough about kitchens, we highly recommend the Conan O’Brien episode of the great podcast, Your Mama’s Kitchen. 

Thank you for listening!

Learn more about our franchise concept

Featured in this episode

Miguel Zafon

Owner, Kvik Valencia & Kvik Alfafar

Julie Broberg

Host, The Sociable Kitchen® podcast