World Wide Communication

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Amid all the hubbub about how the Internet is opening up whole new worlds to its users, one remodeling firm has turned to the Net as a vehicle for employees to communicate within the company as well as with its clients and has received an NRQ Award for...

May 01, 2001

Amid all the hubbub about how the Internet is opening up whole new worlds to its users, one remodeling firm has turned to the Net as a vehicle for employees to communicate within the company as well as with its clients and has received an NRQ Award for its efforts.

Given its location in Cupertino, Calif. — the heart of Silicon Valley — Cupertino Kitchen Design’s high-tech approach is not surprising. Many members of its target market earn their living at dot-com companies or businesses supporting the Internet.

So Bill Reid, owner of Cupertino Kitchen Designs, figured that he might as well use the Net to improve communications within his company. He hired an outside firm to set up the Web site (www.cupertinokitchendesign.com), which features a scrolling “newsletter” of events at the company, updated daily by Reid. “I can manage it from anywhere,” he says. “It makes my job so much easier.”

Another eye-catching aspect is an iPix image of one of the firm’s projects. The iPix, a tool often used by realtors to offer virtual tours of homes over the Internet, provides a 360-degree view of one of Cupertino’s kitchens.

However, in Reid’s view the most useful feature of the extranet allows him and employees at the company’s three locations access to virtually everything they need to successfully complete a project. They can pull up company policies and procedures, schedules, reports, checklists and templates for documents and forms, all of which are now centralized and constantly updated.

“For example, employees can log on from the field to get detailed descriptions of when a payment is due,” Reid explains. “They also can pull up the schedules for particular jobs. The information is very quick and current; there’s no waiting for a new weekly print-out to see what the status is.”

The idea for the extranet evolved from Reid’s original plan to set up an e-mail system within Cupertino Kitchen Design. That developed into an intranet, which in turn took the first step into cyberspace when Reid decided the easiest way to communicate via computer between the Cupertino, San Jose and Saratoga, Calif., locations was through a system already in place: the World Wide Web.

The company’s employees adapted to the system very quickly, Reid reports. In fact, the site is ready for its next incarnation. Early last month, the Client Center was scheduled to be opened, giving Cupertino Kitchen Design’s customers access to data about their own remodeling projects. In addition, the Client Center provides information about resources available to them, such as manufacturers’ Web sites that contain online catalogs and contact information for distributors of the products they need.

Providing this capability to his techno-savvy clientele makes perfect sense to Reid, especially when customer satisfaction is the primary goal. The site not only lets clients stay up-to-date with their projects, it also expedites processes. Designers and salespeople use tools such as a planning time line when working with customers. They can even pull permits over the Internet.

“The site organizes our systems and procedures,” Reid says. “It was a pretty good-sized investment in the beginning, but it has turned out great. Everybody talks about communication. We’re doing it."

For more information on the National Remodeling Quality Award competition, call (800) 638-8556, Ext. 6225.

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