I believe that there are three types of people that you will meet when you walk into a kitchen shop or studio. Whether you refer to them as designers, salespeople or assistants will probably depend on the impression and service you receive from them.
First there are the shop assistants.
Some of the larger department stores or DIY warehouses will not necessarily have specific staff members trained kitchen design. The person standing in front of you might not be very helpful because they were in the shoe or hand tool department the week before. This is frustrating for the customer as they may not get answers to their questions and it is also possible that any answers they do get are of limited value. The fault does not lie with the sales staff as they can only be as good as the training they receive and in this scenario kitchen sales may make up only a small part of the department stores revenue.
Second there are the high pressure sales people.
You will soon know if you encounter these sales people. You will feel pressured as soon as they approach you and the first thing they will do is try to qualify you as a likely customer. They will soon lose interest if you tell them that you are still in planning or worse if you are in the very early stages. This is because they are normally only interested in the short term projects. They are often on a very small basic wage and a large percentage of commission and sometimes no basic with 100% of their wage made up of commission so they need deals this month to make a living. This type of pay structure does not necessarily guarantee bad service but unfortunately it does tend to attract the hard sales person and does encourage the designers to be focussed on selling first and after sales, project management and general customer care as a poor second.
Thirdly there are designers.
These kitchen professionals will often be qualified as architects or designers and many will be extremely experienced in their field. These are the people worth finding. The kitchen business is about so much more than selling a few boxes. A good designer will be able to add a great deal of value even in the early stages of a project. Don’t be afraid to approach a designer at the concept stage. We have new build or extension projects on our desks with kitchens which are still 2 years from being fitted but that’s fine and it’s at this stage that we can still influence the foot print of the room. There is nothing worse than having a client come in with a floor plan of a room that has just been completed only for us to look at it and realise that if only they had moved the door by a few centimetres then they could have a prefect kitchen.