“Don’t assume that you can’t
afford Colliers’ quality”
We talk to delighted Colliers’ customer Laine Greenland.
When you meet Laine Greenland, you instinctively know that she doesn’t tolerate fools lightly. After a lifetime of business and education marketing, she is well versed in the ways of negotiating with suppliers and driving prices down hard – whilst insisting on the highest standards from tradespeople.
Recently retired, Laine and her husband Rob are comfortably off, but certainly without money to burn.
They have lived in their West Worthing mid-terraced house for 20 years and have considered moving once or twice but have improved rather than moved. They inherited a kitchen that could only be entered via the dining room at the west end of the house and wanted to re-jig the lay-out of the ground floor so that the old dining room and galley-style kitchen could be combined creating a modern well-appointed, clean-lined living space. After a visit to her cousin in Canada, Laine realised that she had compromised on her living space for long enough. A new kitchen designed to her specification taking into account her height, state of health and lifestyle was top of her wish list.
To move the kitchen in to the old dining room presented a number of challenges, added to this an angular chimney breast that confounded the best efforts of rival kitchen designers in the town but Martin Battrick, an experienced designer at Worthing-based Colliers reassured Laine ‘we can do whatever you want us to do’.
This involved equalising the uneven floor level across two rooms, closing the old doorway to the dining room, opening up a new one and integrating the angular chimney breast into a superb new Colliers bespoke kitchen that would measure up to Laine’s exacting demands.
She says “What really sold me on Colliers was a tiny lady pensioner coming in whilst I visited the showroom with two bottles of wine for the designers. She turned to me and said: ’Don’t go anywhere else. These people will do exactly what you want and do it to your standards.’ This was a spontaneous recommendation that I couldn’t ignore. Like most people I did the rounds of the kitchen companies in the area and some patronised me (‘what you are describing is a Brighton kitchen, what you need is a Worthing kitchen…’), a few said what I wanted was impossible and others just didn’t get what I wanted in the first place.”
“The entire team at Colliers were switched on to the fact that I was an individual with unique tastes and desires when it came to my own kitchen design. I had put up with the old kitchen for 20 years and I wanted to really enjoy a new cooking environment / dining area in my retirement.”
“The first design presented by Colliers was almost perfect and Martin later said that he had included a peninsula as part of the plan only because I had asked for it – and he had already prepared a peninsula-free alternative that he knew I would prefer. It was created using a state-of-the–art ArtiCad programme which really brought the design to life and was accurate to the centimetre.”
“Other Kitchen designers left dead space and presented their own ideas rather than mine. Martin really listened to what I wanted, so choosing Colliers became an easy matter. Their entire team was friendly and professional, and even the sub-contractors employed to do the plastering, electrics, plumbing and flooring were immaculate in cleaning up after themselves and are people whose numbers I have carefully stored so I can use their services in the future. By the end of the project I was happy to leave a key with the Collier’s fitter, Gary, who became almost like a member of the family!”
The job was quoted and planned in advance to take a month. It was completed on time (despite the Easter Bank Holidays ) The installation process was managed in its entirety by Colliers, who prepared Laine for the fact that there would not be a permanent sink in place until near the end – and provided a temporary one to ease the disruption. They project managed the job from start to finish, and took all her individual needs into account from the beginning. Her health (a little wobbly on her feet at times) was recognised by installing non-slip flooring, carefully removing potential obstacles, designing units at arm height (unlike one rival supplier who suggested that she get a stick to open higher level cupboard doors!) and internal drawers so that Laine doesn’t have to lean over very much.
“I felt that Colliers really understood me and I was confident from the beginning that they knew what they were doing and that the job would be a success. I phoned them just three times during the month and people who know me will understand just how hands-off their professionalism allowed me to be. I had expected to call them at least a hundred times, as I like a good whinge!”
Laine’s tips for getting the kitchen you really want at the price you can afford are to set your budget, shop around and go where you feel most comfortable, be honest about your expectations (with yourself and the supplier) and don’t agree to anything unless you absolutely are in love with it.
Sitting in the completed kitchen with Laine, we admire the detail – the futuristic Bisque radiator, the sparkly silver glass splashback, the carefully frosted window (visible outside but concealed behind a unit inside) and the pipes re-routed behind the oven to avoid any boxing on the hob run – to polished surfaces on the back of stone upstand exposed through windows to the summer room next door. Laine sits back in satisfaction and makes the observation that all guarantees came without chasing, the sub-contractors worked to immaculate standards and timing and the Colliers’ reputation was the underwritten assurance that everything would emerge just as she wanted it.
So how would she sum up her feelings? She doesn’t hesitate. “Great flair and craftsmanship, superb customer service and no compromise on quality despite the small terraced house environment. Colliers weren’t my first choice because I thought I couldn’t afford them, but their final costs turned out to be lower than many of the other suppliers and were inclusive of everything including flooring. Don’t assume that you can’t afford Colliers quality. I was surprised at how good value it was and now I have the kitchen I’ve always dreamed of.”