The Alimond Show

Kemal Boyraz of Virginia Kitchen & Bath

October 19, 2023 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Kemal Boyraz of Virginia Kitchen & Bath
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine the audacity of starting a business in a foreign land, coupled with the challenge of navigating the cultural differences in customer service. Today, we open our microphones to an entrepreneur who bravely stepped up to this plate. From the bustling city of Istanbul to the vast United States, our guest, a Turkish immigrant, sheds light on his exciting journey in the kitchen and bath industry, offering a first-hand account of the challenges and victories in establishing and growing a business in an unfamiliar territory.

As we traverse this intriguing business landscape, we tackle the often intimidating aspect of hiring and training the right team, staying on top of market trends, and the implications of interest rates on businesses. Hear directly from our guest, as he delivers an insightful perspective on how market shifts are impacting businesses, the essence of competitive edge, and his company’s strategies in the current interest rate environment.

Our conversation takes a deep dive into the realm of business growth and international expansion planning, unraveling the complexities of finding the right people, quality control, and market dynamics. Get to know our guest's unique approach in managing customers, the importance of a forward-thinking mindset, and how preparation is a critical tool for any new business owner. This episode is a treasure trove of advice and real-life examples for anyone with aspirations of starting or expanding a business in a new country. Buckle up for a captivating ride through the trials and triumphs of entrepreneurship!

Speaker 1:

So I started like I came here this country like 2010 for master degree education.

Speaker 2:

What country did you come from?

Speaker 1:

From Turkey.

Speaker 2:

Okay, cool.

Speaker 1:

Then and why?

Speaker 2:

where did this country, Did you have?

Speaker 1:

family here or no? Nobody was here, I just. I was searching for online which country I can go for master degree. But I know for it's better to come to here for more opportunity than here. But my plan was just to come in here and just getting study and go back for my country and start a business. Yeah, but I see here more opportunity.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

Then I just decided to stay here and just start my business.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so tell me about that. How was the journey? How did you lay, you know? Did you got your master's degree?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, after that I was looking for opportunity for what I can do here, okay, and then I just see the opportunity actually for kitchen and bed business. Okay, because I did degree my degree for international business. I want to try and do important export, but I see for something opportunity in this country but also for this area, metropolitan area, as an opportunity for the kitchen and bed businesses.

Speaker 2:

Why kitchen and bed Like did you, did you have a friend, did you?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, like I have a friend, he was doing this business and I just started for training with him, working with him, okay, and after like a six month I decided for my business and my first business is opening in Hernan.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

Then we just second business. Second one, short one we opened a Columbia Maryland, okay, and then open the fourth. Third one is in Lisburg.

Speaker 2:

Wow.

Speaker 1:

Then now we have like a almost time location right now.

Speaker 2:

So you're doing something right. Yeah we do.

Speaker 1:

We do your business right and you take care of your customers. Yeah, then there's opportunity for you to get going up.

Speaker 2:

Now I have a question Are you the one who's going in and doing everything by yourself, or do you have an amazing team that's helping?

Speaker 1:

Of course. So I cannot do everything myself, for beginning I just doing everything, just a sales point doing myself. We have a concept for just one stop shop. So we have a showrooms, each locations, and there's like all the materials and selection over there. We do design and providing all the materials. Then, like, a designer or sales person just take care of that section. Then we pass in the four project manager, the four just taking care of the four projects. Okay, then we have an actual crew. There's a teamwork that's going to be just another key to the job Installing it.

Speaker 2:

How did you okay. So how did you, how did you realize it was time to grow, Because you used to do it yourself, at least the sales piece? How did you go from one location in Herndon to Maryland, you know, and then all the other nine?

Speaker 1:

Because for more demands and when we see like open the first location in the Herndon, then like a limited budget for the advertisement, that time when I started, even that there is lots of like a demand for our company and just this business, then we started doing with that way. Then we just set up a team for salesman and project management and for crew and that kind of team is like we have enough teams. Then we decided for growing up and open the more locations and because we know that there's more demands for this business, then decided for doing that and just also when you do do your job is right, then getting more referral customers. This is the like most of the things for in this country referral base. So we see that for coming from the referral most of the customers, I mean we make it more, our job is more right and just make it happy customers and come in more business.

Speaker 2:

Now you said I see in this country are you saying that in Turkey that even if you do a good job, they don't have the referrals?

Speaker 1:

based? No, it can, but the only maybe difference is that Google is working. Google reviews or other reviews more work in this country than other countries, not only Turkey. Most of the other countries they don't care much about. Like the same as here for the reviews and the referral.

Speaker 2:

How do people in other countries find who they're gonna work with, like what is a popular way? People in Turkey.

Speaker 1:

Like what amount? One then, or the pricing.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

And even it's here we're more looking for like a who's doing a job is right and get any like a referral or just searching the reviews and every platforms, then if they have a good company, they just they don't mind the pay for $10,000 more than regular outside contractors Because they want to done right.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and they know it'll be done right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's awesome, that's a good thing, yeah, that's right.

Speaker 2:

So, in terms of challenges, as you're growing and scaling your business, what's been like some of the biggest, hardest challenges for you?

Speaker 1:

That's right now is quality control, because you hire more people to do your jobs but everybody's saying like I do everything but for beginning, then when you just do nature work, they don't do everything nicely, then properly they don't do done and hard to find the right team, like the right people to work for you, because it's employee, like shortages, and for everywhere, like, of course, our business too.

Speaker 2:

But we have an unemployment, so I don't know how it's gonna be possible when you just try to hire.

Speaker 1:

Everybody's looking many things but asking many benefits, but they don't do anything. They don't want anything to do, they want to work from home.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it is, it's been a change. It's been a shift where people are expecting to want to work from home but, like in my business, your business as well, except for sales. I guess you could sell from home, right or no? You have to be in a showroom.

Speaker 1:

Market is changing right now. Like new companies just starting startup businesses doing for, like remodeling business as a working from home, like designers connected for the customer, like online, and try to get measurements and starting for design and everything like a virtually and selection even selection they have like a nice 3d renderings and all the materials they just send the customers. They customers trying to select all the materials from there. There's like a company based on the New York. There's a startup business.

Speaker 2:

They just starting doing that things for the young generation right now yeah maybe it's gonna be gonna be like VR stuff yeah, but on like a VR headset or something and you can go into a showroom virtually Exactly.

Speaker 1:

This business is also gonna be changing. Yeah, that's gonna be crazy.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so in terms of so sounds like people, staff finding the right people that's been like a challenge for you. How do you know who is a good fit when you are meeting people? Do you still do the hiring or do you have somebody else that does the hiring?

Speaker 1:

sometimes me and sometimes like a hiring manager. We have taken care of that. But the problem is that everybody's like not saying like an upfront, like a truth. They just say I do the great jobs and I have like lots of jobs completely done, I have a teachers or something. Yeah but they just fake things. Most of them is and they don't do like really good properly jobs.

Speaker 2:

How do you? How do you?

Speaker 1:

We do training and we just can also be Trying for small jobs or we have some projects. Also there's no customers in the house, in living. We have like a Philip house Project, so we just trying them there and see if or if they have any reference from before. They used to work for Other companies we have. Most of them is like we know of each other, so we just asking each other.

Speaker 2:

Over here was he actually good or not.

Speaker 1:

And somebody say like this is his pricey or he's like he doesn't Responsible. Most of the biggest challenge I got for needs to be like a personality, so your personality is good, then you can just we can train them, some of them.

Speaker 2:

Say that too. I used to say it's all about the personality. For my business, what I've learned is you still need to have the basic skills you still need to have. You still need to know how to operate a camera right like, the personality is always just. You can't train that.

Speaker 1:

But cannot train it and all we personally like a, it's good, then you can just change it, for like you can teach everything and you can just learn everything. But you it's make it your like a tired you, for if his personality is gonna be hard, you know, yeah, yeah, just fighting every day like he's saying like this is black, I'm saying this is white, but yeah, that's not changing reality.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so besides people, and then quality control, which is kind of tied to people, is there anything in terms of like that you would have done differently, looking back on your success so far?

Speaker 1:

So we just change. Like a market is every year is changing. Like I'm not, like you cannot study, I mean to stay for what it is behind, like a two years ago. So every year there's different challenge. You're just gonna improve yourself. This year is like a special marketing. Every year Is different marketing strategy. You have to, otherwise you're just gonna be Losing your some of the business. Like like ten years ago there was the NGs list. You know there's very, very popular and most of the business coming through from them and we have over like a couple years, like a In three years or three or four years we have a 300 reviews over there and most of the customers coming there, but then suddenly they sold the company. Then just gonna be Changed for strategy or something. Then there is no any more customers come from there. Then we find the for Google or for other, like magazines, for others, but every year's different Tools is working and versus previous years. So we have a challenge for that I mean for, especially for since the last year. There's a interest rate problems in this country right now and then mortgage crisis not a mortgage crisis, but mortgage issue, for most of the people wants to wait for the interest rate comes on, then we can just get a home. But this is the effect of our business. Because Somebody's selling the house, they just renovate their house. Somebody buying the new house, they renovate the house. So this is the way giving the for us more jobs from them Right from the, from like a previous years of versus now. So that's the biggest challenge right now. We're just struggling with the issue. As long as it's going to be a calm down for the interest rate, then we can continue for business. But again, every different challenge, I mean I cannot.

Speaker 2:

How do you stay on top of it? How do you know how to navigate and pivot? Do you have somebody that you work with? Are you just studying the market and seeing?

Speaker 1:

I'm like as an owner and I just looking for that like a one step forward. Every time I just was going on, the market was happening and what is our business and what is for challenge. So always trying to get action for that and also from hearing from the people outside, from the customers Like we have a lot of customers from different business. They do and this is good for us. We just go in for different houses every day than different people we are meet and we just communicate and see what's going on and what's going to be expectation for next year or this year. So that's going to be just give us a perfect back to.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, what is your typical day look like as the owner of 10 different?

Speaker 1:

showrooms, starting from looking for emails and see the four, what time do you get up in? The morning. Usually I wake up like six o'clock, six am, then I just you go straight to email. Yeah, I'm doing that. I'm just. This is like smartphone, is always in your hand and just see what's going on today. So, like five years ago ten years ago maybe I was looking for my emails before to go to bed, but it was so stressful for me I couldn't sleep, like some customers are sending something. Then I decided for not touching my emails before to go to sleep, then open the emails for morning, then prep to get my kids to school. I have one son is like nine and my daughter is like a five, so they just morning routines for them. Then after that just gonna go to the office for shanty, like a high quarter hours and then see what's the plan for today and what we're gonna do. I have already scheduled I'm just checking my schedule what I'm gonna do today. So then going from there and during the day there's most of the issues happening, so I just can I answer the phone and just find out the solution for them. Just direction to them for visual to this, which is this Because of the experience, and finish it Putting out fires all day. Yeah, all day. This business is like a stressful business Because you're just in your like the customer house every day, different houses and different, like we have a not only for doing for countertops, not only doing for cabinet or something we do the complete remodeling. It means you're touching everything, you are responsible from everything, and then you have lots of customers at the same time, then it's gonna be a stressful day, I mean you guys have a big business.

Speaker 2:

How did you learn about handling customers and clients, because not everybody understands that.

Speaker 1:

Just the experience, I mean, like when I started for just maybe, every maybe for customers, then see what's what's going on and what is the problems and how I can handle it myself. You're learning yourself. I mean, just you just see the four problems and what is the needs to be action. If it does work, then you know it does work. Then for next customer your attitude is gonna be the same thing. So then each customer is given for different experience than you're learning. But still I'm learning and honestly, still different psychology for each customer. That's the problem too. I wish I just study for psychology for doing this business, because most of the part for this business for I'm just saying like a psychological things, because each customer has a different psychology. Same job, same quality, same materials. Some customers so happy, some customers not. So because they have something is their mind different and they have different day-to-day lives, different psychology they have. So you have to approach for them what they just needed. So that's the problem.

Speaker 2:

My daughter is taking psychology now in her high school class and I'm like Leila, that's the best class you're gonna take. No matter what job or business that you want to start, you focus on psychology because it's a people business.

Speaker 1:

Yes, exactly, and it's understanding people. That's the number one thing for you. If you're doing the business, you have to learn how to approach the people, and how, because everybody's different.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So you cannot make it happy for everyone at the same time. Yeah, so if you're not united for different perspective, looking for them, or different approach for each one, then we can be successful that way.

Speaker 2:

That's right. So if you're talking to a new business owner, not necessarily in your same industry, but just overall in general, what's some tips one to three tips that they should be prepared for before they go into having their own business?

Speaker 1:

Again, I'll just talk about psychological things. You have to be like a patient and psychological ready for business, because this is not the same as for you working somewhere else. Because you're working for one of the companies, something is going wrong and you don't like. You can say I'm leaving easy and you can just look for new jobs. But if you have a business like a divorce, you cannot just easily give up this business. That's not easy. So they should be like a patient, ready for that kind of issues. And the customer service. Whatever you do online or other things, you have to do the right customer service. You have to follow up every day your customers and your business, what we did today and what we did yesterday and who's not happy and how I can make it happy. So this is the second thing for here success business. And third one is like manage yourself and your cash flow and looking forward for three months or one year later how we can manage the company, because today we have a business, but three months, four or six months later, if there is no business, what are you going to do? So you have to manage yourself and your business and as a cash flow and just get an action for always. You just think ahead of what's going to happen. For if something happened like this, you have to get some ready for scenarios for that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you have that little hidden pot so that you can dig into.

Speaker 1:

Because I see some friends, other people have to make a business and they make money but they don't manage for that and after three months later, six months later, for their business goes down, they just scare what I'm going to do because they're not ready for that. They're just thinking business is like going always for make money. Yeah that's the things.

Speaker 2:

You're right. I mean especially in today's world, where everything is shifting and changing.

Speaker 1:

Especially in the United States. I mean there's maybe in the, since COVID is, everything has changed. Yeah, they not get used to for that kind of things.

Speaker 2:

And now it's good, it was easy. All the home renovations, home sales, all the cash flow.

Speaker 1:

All the, all this. They're thinking they can make like a paycheck and they can get make money until like COVID. But after COVID everything has changed. So in other countries those know how to manage for that kind of thing.

Speaker 2:

So they've gone through before, right.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and here is not ready for that. So that's why just people are not able to manage. Some of them like getting a suicide for that, maybe you hear it?

Speaker 2:

I was just thinking that I didn't say that, but I was just thinking that's why we're so, because we're so fragile. Yep, we haven't been.

Speaker 1:

We've been in many magazines like other stuff and like suicide. They're just getting increased, especially for younger generation. Yeah, they're not able to manage that. They don't know how to manage that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Their life, and just their, for business.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's sad. Any parting words you have for our listeners, anything else on your heart that you want to share?

Speaker 1:

I can tell you from somebody like make a business so they just again, they have to be careful and they have to be ready for that. Actually they shouldn't do the business just for making for business. They have to be like a business plan, strategy and all the scenarios for they have to think about it and before starting business because the business is completely different than working for someone else because you're just losing lots of things If you fail one of your first business and you're just going to be scaring about for second attempt for that and your life is going to continue without just opening up a business, most of the people are scared about that because of the fail. If you lose a lot of money, it's completely the problem for them. They're just going to be not going to encourage for again for starting anything there. I just say easy to make a business in this country. I can say and they should start a business versus working somewhere, because that's very like opportunity, a very big opportunity, like every different sector, like a industry here where you can make a business easily, and versus working somewhere because this country is giving to you for that opportunity. That's why don't scare, they just be ready and just start your business.

Speaker 2:

There I go. I love it. One last thing what resource? Do you have a certain resource, or a book, or a course or something that you would recommend?

Speaker 1:

Honestly, no, I just always reading for like a financial advisor or daily base for TV tour. They just sharing and just comparing with other countries and every day or every month, just different. I do analysis for going economics where and just comparing for different financial advisor post on the everyday. They're putting that on Twitter and see and I just going to get my action. So now they're about to say like the same truth, but that's why I'm just going to compare for each others. So then just going to thinking my side, how I can just so you're creating it.

Speaker 2:

So basically, just talk to you.

Speaker 1:

I'm just not expert so I just didn't try in my business, just better and just getting more, grow up for this business and just invest for other businesses. So I just going to try and make it for some international business still from my country in here.

Speaker 2:

I love it. Thank you so much for being on our show Sharing. You've got lots of wisdom, lots of value. When you create your own like newsletter or something where you're sharing tips, you'll have to let me know so we can put it in the podcast notes. Thank you so much.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for inviting me today and just going to just in the interview with me, and thank you so much.

Speaker 2:

You're welcome.

Starting Business in New Country
Market Challenges and Strategies in Change
Handling Customers and Starting a Business
Business Growth and International Expansion Planning