In 1999 I purchased the domain www.kitchensfitted.co.uk It was 4 years before Google entered cyberspace and I recall the Yell sales rep telling me that my first choice www.fittedkitchens.co.uk had already been snapped up – that particular kitchen domain is currently offline but it’s another prize generic domain that, whenever it becomes available, will, I’m sure, see a good old tussle to secure it.
The term ‘kitchens fitted’ currently churns up 5,530,000 results on google and without much SEO to speak of lately, appearing in page one of the results page alongside the big players in the kitchen industry is a great advantage to have.
So, I had my own prized domain in the industry that I worked in and I had a great belief that “this internet thing” would take off and level the playing field a little for us small timers wishing to make an impact.
I later purchased kitchenstted.com and quickly got to work in getting the domain up the rankings. It soon reached top of the Alexa rankings and I managed to get it listed on DMOZ, quite a coup back then as it was notoriously difficult. DMOZ is now gone but still it served me well at the time and I bet the big boys of our industry were seething at the time, thinking I’d put myself right up there with them in the rankings. It helped that the website had a very interactive forum at that time and this was a major factor in getting the high number of visitors we achieved.
The same is still true now for any website wanting to attract traffic – it helps to educate and inform. Today, most forums have been replaced by blogs but still there’s a dearth of experts in our field who write blogs – that role has been taken in the main by SEO copywriters working under the guise of “experts” in a particular field. Our Kitchensfitted forum was the platform where the iKBBI (Institute of Kitchen Bedroom and Bathroom Installers), first put their agenda to their potential installer members. Refereeing that battle was some task and might have been better managed by Henry Kissinger but it was great debating the pros and cons at the time. Efficient vetting to discover the best installers was always the right criteria in my opinion and I’m unsure as to whether that became a standard for entry but I felt it needed to.
Still, I was delighted that consumers and those in the industry populated the website and the audience increased because of free and valued advice from those with little to promote except their expertise.
And so, with all this traffic I thought, “What can I do to realise and maximise the potential in a commercial way?” I decided to focus on the worktops sector. Still making my living as a kitchen installer as the main source of income, I knew the huge mark-ups that were being made on bespoke surfaces such as granite, quartz and the seamless solid surface variety and I knew that the website could work well to make them more affordable if only I could convince a reputable Granite/SolidSurface fabricator of the same.
That decision was one I look back on with great pride and it’s still makes me smile when I recall the cynical reaction of the owner, of a small Yorkshire fabricator, when I said that the internet could take his business to another level and that he’d be in charge of his own destiny rather than have to rely on a group of retailer clients to do it for him.
The plan: offer your services nationally and adapt your business to work directly with clients. With some reluctance he appointed a person to work on the quotes and I provided all the procedural literature that clients would receive. I advised on the terms of payment – 30% Deposit, 60% on commencement of installation and 10% balance on signed, satisfactory completion.
He agreed to the plan – the pressure was now on me but with an already established and large audience who trusted the website and the advice I was offering to help kitchen buyers, it was made easier to put a new concept to them: choose your kitchen with your preferred provider and if you’re not happy with the cost of your worksurfaces, then obtain a price through kitchensfitted. At no time did I want to enter an undercutting war but I didn’t have to, potential buyers very rarely provided the costs that they’d already been quoted. What they were doing, though, was submitting their plans for quotation via our website by the bucketload.
In just short of 18 months the fabricator had turned over 3/4 of £million from the work generated via kitchensfitted.co.uk – the fabricator completely changed his perceptions of winning business on the internet and I was happy working on a 10% commission.
Kitchensfitted was getting noticed elsewhere as the go to place for advice and it wasn’t long before ITV came knocking at the doors. I spent the next few years working on TV makeover shows, the first of them being ITV’s Better Homes where I arranged for Nobilia to make their TV debut. After Better Homes had run it’s course I was approached by Granada to work on what seemed a ridiculous concept – to redesign five rooms in the space of a one hour show – yes, I was at the meeting that gave birth to ’60 Minute Makeover’ and became Project Consultant for the show. Other TV projects followed and were completed but with a face better suited to radio, I bowed out after doing a gruelling experimental show about housing regeneration on a budget. I completed the task that proved the political point that it was less costly to renovate old houses than to break up and re-house communities but it sapped the energy out of me at a time I’d lost my mother after taking six months out to look after her.
The relationship with the fabricator, as with most in business, grew difficult and the procedures that were so important in a customer facing operation weren’t being followed and had begun to slacken. The possibilities, though, had been proven and the fabricator realised that he may be 10% better off without me. It did mean building and developing a website of his own but I’d already made my mind up that it was time for me to move on and had already been approached by a number of large national fabricators wishing to harness the same method to boost their own businesses.
For the next few years kitchensfitted became a big source of generating quotes for a number of fabricators who’d be very familiar with those in our industry.
Others now followed suit whether they were fabricators or those outside the industry with good SEO skills and soon the online sale of worktops became a saturated market as it remains today. I was approached just this week to return to doing the same, ironically by a former staff member of the first fabricator that helped prove that my method would work but I declined the offer – there are other possibilities I believe could be explored and pioneered in what is still, I fully believe, the early commercial era of the internet.
Kitchensfitted suffered somewhat in the rankings after I discovered I had prostate cancer back in 2015 and I took my eye off the ball in relation to maintaining it as a hub of information for kitchen buyers but I believe the value is in the domain and it’s long history.
And so, after my ramblings, I’ll get to the point of this ‘history of my online career’ blog:
For the past few years I’ve worked on another couple of passions of mine, one being the introduction of a pioneering ECO kitchen range to the UK and the other being totally unrelated to the kitchen industry – a personal wish to achieve national recognition for a hero of mine and to that end I’ve generated over 38,000 supporters wanting the same. I’m eager to continue that mission and have written a book that I plan to release over the next few months.
For kitchens and the future of kitchensfitted – both domains, it’s time to take a back seat but not to be thrown completely out of the vehicle because I still believe I have a bit to offer. However, the internet is evolving at a fast pace and the possibilities for the future of business on the www is greater than ever so I’m opening the floor to offers for the website, both domain names and all intellectual property. Some offer may wish to include the talents of a ‘kitchen expert’ as a writer – some won’t – all will be considered.
It’s time for some young bloods to take the reins of a prized domain and take it to another level in an age of tech communication and tech commerce.
If you believe you could make great use of some prime ‘unreal estate’ then let me know what that is: I know what it is to have an idea that no one else shares and then to bring it to success so every concept will be given an ear.
So, if you’d like to run an idea or an offer by me, please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org