You are as good as your last kitchen they say. So you have to always stay on focus, on top to do it. Otherwise I think you lose it.

— Thijs Kaptein, Kvik Heerhugowaard + Kvik Hoorn

We’re back with another episode featuring an interview with one of our independent franchisees.  We are looking for no less than 65 new franchisees at the moment - both to take over existing stores and to open new locations. You can always find the latest information on our open opportunities on our website. You’ll find a link in the show notes. 

You don’t necessarily need a background in the kitchen industry to apply, as you’ll hear in this conversation with brothers Thijs and Lex Kaptein. They opened Kvik Heerhugowaard in the Netherlands in 2018 and were already named Store of the Year at our Annual Meeting in 2022. Their success has continued and they opened their second store, Kvik Hoorn, in November 2023. 

But let’s hear their story…I like to call it “Say yes to the kitchen,” and you’ll learn why in just a moment… 


Please note that the text on this page is a transcript of the episode.

Brothers with a dream of working together

Thijs: My name is Thjis Kaptein. 42-years-old now and living 20 minutes near to Heerhugowaard. Not married but living together with my wife and three kids. And I’m doing it together with my brother.

Lex: Yeah. My name is Lex Kaptein. I’ve also a girlfriend with two children. A boy and a girl. We live in the same town in near-by Heerhugowaard. And yeah. This is what we do.

Julie: And have you guys always worked together?

Lex: No. We live together. [laughter]

Julie: Well you lived together growing up right? Yeah. Of course. But..

Thijs: Yeah. We are brothers and we have maybe it’s good to mention we are back at home we were with three brothers. I’m the middle and Lex is the youngest.

Lex: Youngest one.

Thijs: And we always had a dream together that we once a time we could work together. But our we are very different I think. He’s more handy and I’m the not handy guy. [laughter] So that’s the..

Julie: Is that a good division of labour here in the Kvik store?

Thijs: It works. We see it on the Maze.

Julie: And what’s Maze?

Thijs: That’s the loyalty from the customers. The one who sold the new kitchen.

And I think it’s very stable. We are very stable because I’m always in the shop to stay here, to keep an eye on the shop, to make the planning et cetera and Lex is always to the customers and when something is wrong, he can adjust it and he’s sociable. We always tell customer needs attention. When he’s coming there and he’s saying drink a cup of coffee and look at the kitchen. Oh what a nice kitchen, blah blah blah. This drawer is not good. I will fix it. So you get the customer gets attention and then you have loyal ambassadors I think. 

Julie: Maze is the customer satisfaction tool that we use in Kvik. Every customer is given the opportunity to fill it out once their project is completed. All our stores are measured by their Maze score. Kvik Heerhugowaard has a very high Maze score and they work hard to achieve it. But let’s get back to our conversation with Thijs and Lex.

Say "yes" to the kitchen!

Thijs: To come back because we didn’t work together at the start. We always had a dream that we could work together and I think Kvik has combined it together. 

Julie: But what did you do before you decided to work together and have a Kvik franchise?

Lex: I work as a carpenter at a building company about 18 years. So..

Julie: Were you installing kitchens in that building company?

Lex: No. Not many. Just all kinds of carpentry. Fixing things.

Thijs: Fixing things in Amsterdam. But also good to say that you did apartments and in two weeks the renter goes out. In two weeks you had to finish a whole new..

Julie: Oh to totally renovate for the next person who will move in. Oh okay. So that was what you did before. And Thijs what did you do? [laughter]

Thijs: I worked as an agent for wedding and evening wear dresses and I was between the designer and the shops in Holland. So I distribute the wedding dresses.

Julie: So you would go convince the shop that they needed these designs.

Thijs: Yes. Correct. To have in their shop.

Julie: Kind of like, I mean it’s not that different than convincing someone that they want these designs of kitchens right?

Thijs: And that’s why I think also franchise is in the same neighbourhood because we are selling the.. design of Kvik. So you’re not, yeah.

Julie: So it’s like, yeah. It’s like say yes to the kitchen. Oh man, I was waiting to say that. 


Liked Kvik's approach

Thijs: It’s also the same where we come in the point of how we started this adventure.

Julie: So tell us about that.

Thijs: I was in a Kvik shop and we just bought a new house and we needed a private kitchen and I said to my wife let’s go. We go to Kvik to see and we were in the shop and I said wow, this is the first time somebody is speaking normal to me. Not as a, yeah.

Julie: What do you mean by speaking normal to you? Not trying to be a pushy salesperson. Is that what you mean by it or what do you mean?

Thijs: No. He was first trying to sell the Kvik concept. The idea. So this is Tinta. This is Mano and this is the colours we have. And please take a round and look at what you see and if you like it we can make an appointment. I look at my wife. I said this is the first time somebody told me how Kvik is working and not pushing me into a kitchen. And I liked the Danish design and I liked all the straight lines. So I was in the shop and I said to my wife, I’m going to buy a Kvik kitchen because I like it and then I was in the car and I was searching on internet. I said hey they are looking for a franchise guy in Heerhugowaard. So I said okay let’s do it. So I was in the car and I put my details on and next week I was in a meeting and then I said Lex are you joining in. He said yes. Okay let’s do it. 

Julie: And so you decided really quick.

Thijs: Really quick.

Julie: But I mean it’s also kind of amazing that it was because you visited a store and you liked the vibe of the store.

Thijs: And my wife was saying are you crazy. You are not gonna do a kitchen shop. Are you crazy. You never sold a kitchen. [laughter] No problem.

Julie: So how long did it then take from that day that you filled out the form to actually opening the store?

Lex: 12-13 months.

Thijs: One year.

Julie: Was it? And what took so long? 

Thijs: First you have to go to Kvik to..

Julie: To Denmark?

Thijs: To sign, to look. Then you make a business plan. Then you have to make your finance complete. The building has to be there. And..

Julie: So was finding a location, did they have an idea of a location or...

Thijs: No. They helped us. They helped us very good and also with finance they help very good. We made together the business plan for the finance. And then we opened in 23 of November in 2018.

Julie: But you guys were already the top store in Kvik for 2021 right?

Thijs: Yes. Right.

Julie: ‘Cause you guys were Franchise of the Year.

Thijs: Yes. We are very proud of it.

Julie: That is pretty amazing. I mean how did you do that so quickly?

Lex: Work hard. [laughter] Be smart.

Julie: Really hard work. Yeah.

I think every layer has to be there. If the customer comes into the shop, he has to have a good feeling.

— Thijs Kaptein

Everything depends on great service

Julie: The brothers are very focused on providing great service - they see it as the core of their success. 

Thijs: Yeah but I think it’s also the vision we have because everything is leaning on service, eh? If you as we spoke earlier, the customer needs attention and if you give this attention and they call us and say the front is not right or whatever..

Julie: Or it has a scratch on it or something. Things can happen.

Thijs: Buy a new front, put it on and Lex goes there. Drink a cup of coffee. What a nice kitchen. You have to do this. So I think the service needs to be high. That’s..

Julie: People need to feel like you care about their kitchen and their..

Thijs: Correct.

Lex: And then people gonna talk about it to their friends.

Julie: They have a party and then everybody sees their beautiful kitchen. 

Thijs: And I think every layer has to be there. If the customer comes into the shop, he has to have a good feeling. Has to be, how do you see, they have to say hello, how are you. Can I help you. Then the sales guy has to be good. Then everything had to be ordered good so the whole process needs to be okay.

Julie: I think measurement is probably a key part.  Do you go out and do the measurements, Lex, or do you have a team of people who do it?

Lex: No. I do it by myself.

Thijs: And I think you have to make offers because if you are opening a Kvik shop, you cannot do it in 30 hours a week.

Julie: No. So you are working hard. You’re..

Thijs: So you’re doing it or you don’t do it. Don’t do it so..

Julie: So you have to be a hundred and ten percent in.

Thijs: Always. Always on.

Julie: So you guys are working all the time. [laughter]

Thijs: You are as good as your last kitchen they say. So you have to always stay on focus, on top to do it. Otherwise I think you lose it.

Julie: So how many kitchens did you sell last year? What does it take to be on top and in Kvik how many kitchens is that in a year? Approximately.

Thijs: We do I think in a week we do around 8-9 kitchens to install.

Julie: Okay. You install 8 or 9 kitchens every week.

Thijs: Correct. And we hope to get also 8-9 back again this year. But to become franchise of the year, it’s not only the selling part.

Julie: No? What else is in it?

Thijs: As Lex told us the Maze is very important.

Julie: Ah that’s true. There is, it was five factors. Is it five things that are..

Thijs: Correct. Five factors. Yeah. The Maze is very important. There’s our customer loyalty. I think this is the most important. Order intake. Financial health of your company. Great Place to Work so..

Julie: Ah yeah. We do. We’re part of Great Place to Work. It’s an employee survey right?

Thijs:  And then we have, that’s it I think. It’s not the biggest order intake. You have to build too for customer loyalty. The ambassadors they call it. You have to build ambassadors.

Julie: Franchise of the Year is awarded yearly at our annual meeting and as we discussed, it’s determined by a number of factors - not only how many kitchens the team sells, but also their customer satisfaction score, the financial health of their business, employee satisfaction, which we measure in a yearly survey through the organisation Great Place to Work. It’s not just the store that sells the most - but an overall positive picture of the business.

An honest and up-front approach

Julie: Satisfied customers start with how you treat them when they step through the door. An honest and up-front approach is what the brothers believe in.

Thijs: That’s why, when somebody is coming in your shop, you have to tell them. You have to tell them what and why, where you are. We are Danish design. We have bigger cabinets.  So you have to explain the Kvik vision and then you can go further. If they want to have a blue kitchen..

Julie: Or a red one or something, we just don’t do that.

Thijs: No. Then you don’t make an offer. Try to.

Julie: Do you turn people away? Do you say I just don’t think we can help you?

Thijs: Yeah. We do. I think a lot. Yes. If you are not a match then you can’t work together. But if they want to have a blue kitchen, what is then the reason for us to make an offer? Or sometimes the measurement? We cannot make everything and we are standard. We have standard height. Standard height, depth, et cetera and if somebody wants to have kind of things you have to say as a seller no, we don’t have it. And I think no is a good answer. Keep it clear. Keep it open. And then you can and if somebody is leaving that’s also okay. That’s how it is.

Julie: Back when we spoke last year, we didn’t have a blue kitchen, but we do now, so they no longer need to turn someone away who wants one, as they can choose Bordo blue. It takes bravery though to turn a potential customer away. 

Not everybody is a Kvik customer. We cannot help everybody. But I think we sell for the normal guy and girl.

— Thijs Kaptein

Thijs: Yeah. But I think when you are always saying yes and of course we can do a lot but if you go around Kvik, you stay not in the Kvik assortment, then you have a lot of work and it’s not profitable and then it’s not a match. It’s okay. They have to go to another. That’s perfect.

Julie: Somebody else will come through the door who wants the standard. 

Thijs: Yeah. Of course. But not everybody is a Kvik customer. We cannot help everybody. That’s also..

Julie: So what does the ideal Kvik customer look like? What do they..

Thijs: I think it’s a...young. We sell a lot to, what’s the ideal?

Julie:  Does it have to do with what you guys said at the beginning about the demographic of the area? Is it people who are down to earth and..

Thijs: Down to earth. Sustainability. You can see something on the clothes. How do you say it. More fashionable. They are busy with with interior design I think. But it’s yeah. It’s various. Yeah.

Lex: Difficult to say. Lots of layers of people who want to buy a Kvik kitchen. So somebody has 6,000 euros, we sell for 6. And someone has 30,000 euros we sell for 30.

Julie: So they can get a kitchen that matches their budget.

Thijs: Correct. But I think we sell for the normal guy and girl I think. 


It's a destination

Julie: Many Kvik stores are located in industrial parks, near other kitchen stores. The Heerhugowaard store isn’t and I asked them about this. But it doesn’t seem to be a hindrance to their business. 

I asked though, if people who stop by mostly have an appointment when they come by….

Thijs: Depends but nowadays when somebody is into our shop, they want something so our sellers have to be clear on this, give them good advice, give them good feeling and maybe they want to see it now or tomorrow. Whatever. But yeah. We are not a shop..

Lex: It’s a destination.

Thijs: We are destination store.

Julie: People are not happening past in the same way. They know about you and they look for you. And they find you, obviously.

Advice for others

Julie: Every individual franchise has its own story, but anyone can benefit from some good advice, so we asked Thijs and Lex what advice they would give to anyone considering opening their own Kvik store.

What advice would you give to somebody considering a Kvik franchise?

Thijs: It can be very nice. You can get your own store. Very proud but it’s a lot. So don’t think we gonna do it. If you’re doing it, you have to do it right and give it all..

Julie: And you have to give it your all.

Thijs: Give it all or don’t do it because it’s a lot. There’s a lot coming on your way and yeah. If you don’t have it under control, you can fast go down. So you have to be on top. So do it with 120 percent or don’t do it. That’s what I want to say.

Julie: But you don’t necessarily need a background in kitchens. You guys proved that. 

Thijs: No. But you can learn it.

Julie: To help you learn everything you need, we have an extensive training program under Kvik Academy, as well as Retail Consultants who come out to your store regularly in the first months of your business to ensure that you get a good start. 

All the necessary training

Julie: Kvik Academy teaches everything from the basics of all our IT systems, to sales techniques, to a special year-long intensive program after one year for franchisees and store managers that we call NEFOS. During this program, our CEO, sales directors, academy and finance all come together to give franchisees great training in Sales, Finance, Back Office and Leadership. It’s a tough program and culminates with a final exam. Thijs and Lex have been through the program themselves and one of the big advantages they see is the network it gives them within Kvik.

Thijs: At the start we get the retail consultant books us every meetings to learn. There’s a whole learning program with Kvik. We did also NEFOS training is for franchisees who are one year there and the (-) NEFOS training is training you more about background, finance et cetera and there you build also more network with your colleagues and not only in the Netherlands but also in Belgium, Spain, Denmark. So that’s very good for your network. There’s sales training. There are back office training. Finance training. So that keeps you on top of it.

Julie: And I hear you have a little network of guys here in the Netherlands and so you can call and troubleshoot with people who understand where you’re at.

Thijs: Yeah. We have a small group. Yeah. It’s four guys who are also in the same level as we are. We are four years old so we are further in the progress. And I see we had here the learning program of Zandaam was with us and he has his own network again of shops who are one year old to get feedback, to learn, to discuss what are you doing, how are you doing et cetera. To give tips. Tips and tricks.

Julie: You guys spent time in a store before your store opened and were trained in a store. Have you done that for a new store?

Thijs: Yes. We have. Yeah. Kvik Zandaam was here. And Leeuwarden was here. Two shops.

Julie: So they both came and did their training here.

Thijs: They learned from the best. [laughter]

Julie: Obviously.

Are you ready to say yes to the kitchen yourself?

Are you ready to say yes to the kitchen yourself? 

A Kvik franchise gives you all the benefits of having your own business and being your own boss, but with a very strong company at your back. We offer an unsurpassed support package to our franchisees, including helping you choose the right location, legal advice, help with your business plan, layout and construction of your showroom and warehouse.

Additionally, we offer accounting services like controlling and daily business follow-up, as well as help with staff hiring and recruitment. Before you open, you’ll go through a comprehensive training program, including working in a Kvik store for at least a month. Plus, we offer the support of our retail consultants, giving you a really strong start. Our marketing ensures that you have bookings already on opening day. 

And we just can’t help but recommend one more episode of the wonderful podcast Your Mama’s Kitchen. This time, it’s the one with musician and songwriter Jeff Tweedy of the band Wilco. It turns out that Jeff’s mother was a kitchen designer who sold kitchens herself, so the episode is right up our alley. Find it on Audible or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Thank you for listening!

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Featured in this episode

Thijs Kaptein

Co-owner, Kvik Heerhugowaard & Kvik Hoorn

Lex Kaptein

Co-owner, Kvik Heerhugowaard & Kvik Hoorn

Julie Broberg

Host, The Sociable Kitchen® podcast