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Remodelers: Can You Answer These Questions About How You Do Business?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Oct 05,2017 @ 05:00 AM

Remodelers: Can You Answer These Questions About How You Do Business?

How should a remodeler do business


One way I help my clients remodel how they do business is to first get them to actually document how they already do business.  For most they think they know how they do business until I start asking clarifying questions as they attempt to explain.  I did this exercise one time with a $3M+ remodeler and his management staff.  The owner told me before we started how impressed I would be with how they do things and work as a team.  About 30 or so minutes into the meeting he came to realize only he knew how to explain it and none of his staff were on the same page as he.   He then, in a frustrated tone, asked his staff: “How does anyone around here get things done if none of you can explain how we do business?” 

One employee quickly jumped in and said something like: “Well we have to ask you every time and it seems you have a different answer each time so we stopped assuming and decided to just ask every time rather than risk being wrong”.

How a remodeler does businessBelow is a list of considerations regarding how you can do business as a remodeler.  The list starts with an initial inquiry from a prospect and is broken out by typical steps of the process up through wrapping up a remodeling project.  There are lots of things to consider related to each step depending on the type of work you do, who your target customer is and how you do or will decide to do business.  Keep in mind your decisions in each step can or will affect other steps.  Please assume it to be a partial list.  I hope you find the list to be a helpful way for you to get started thinking through how you do business. 


Steps related to selling and completing remodeling projects:

  1. Original contact:
    • How will prospects contact your business and then how will your business respond.
    • You will need ways to respond to inquiries from email, Voice Mail, showroom/office drop-ins and or your web site’s contact page.
    • One goal of this step should be to manage prospects’ expectations about what will happen next and when.
  2. Initial phone conversation
    • Who will call the prospect back and when?
    • Should it be a trained gate keeper or the salesperson?
    • What are the purposes of the initial call: for the prospect and for the business?
    • How will the business decide whether to agree to a first sales call?
    • Will your business establish and agree to an agenda and purpose for the meeting before you commit, or will you figure that out when you get to the prospect’s home?
  3. First sales call
    • Will this be at your place of business or the prospects home?
    • Who has to be there besides your business and how will that be decided?
    • How long will the first visit take and why?
  4. Decision time:
    • Remodeling business best practicesWhat does the business need to know about the prospect and their project?
    • Will you have them make a decision about whether your company is a good fit before or after you commit to and invest hours of your time developing an estimate and or proposal?
    • Will you require them to share their decision making process about the project and price before you attempt to get them to make a decision, or will you deal with all that at the same time you are expecting them to make a decision?
  5. Deciding if the prospect and project are qualified and if so for which service the company offers
  6. Design/Preconstruction agreement with a fee or free estimating and proposal generation
  7. Proposal presentation meeting
    • Who has to be there and if not there will you automatically reschedule and take your package with you?
    • Are you expecting a decision at the meeting? If so, what should/will your business do to help them make a decision?
    • If not expecting a decision at the meeting how long is your proposal and price good for?
    • If you charged to prepare the information will it be applied to the project price or is it considered a separate fee and service?
  8. Pre-construction and pre-staging
    • Backordered Stamp-WR.jpgWill you expect all product selections be made before offering a fixed price?
    • Will you schedule the job if there are any open selections to be made?
    • Will you get enough money at deposit to pre-stage the job with required materials, will you use your own money to pre-stage, or will you wait until you start the job to gather the materials?
    • Will you require clients attend and participate at a preconstruction meeting?
  9. Construction
  10. Project wrap-up
    • Is the final payment due on completion or substantial completion (do you know the difference?)
    • Will you allow a punchlist or require a precompletion list?
    • Do you have a process and supporting form you and your customers can use to both agree and confirm the project is complete?
  11. Warranty
    • Best business practices for remodelersWhen does the job end and the warranty begin? (What does your contract say about this now?)
    • Have you clarified warranty responsibilities depending on who provides the materials?
    • Will making the final payment be a condition of doing any warranty work?

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Topics: Business Management, Differentiating your Business, Customer Relations, Business Planning, How You Do Business

The Importance of How You Do Business as a Remodeler.

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Sep 27,2017 @ 05:00 AM

The Importance of How You Do Business as a Remodeler.

contact us in hand-WR.jpg

How you do business as a remodeler serves certain customers.   And, just as there are many different customer types there are also many ways to do business as a remodeler.   For example does your business charge for design or does it do it for free?   Does your business help consumers pick out their products and colors or does it expect customers will research and find their own products?  Do you offer fixed pricing, cost plus, T&M or all three?   So, have you decide how you will do business and then stick to it as you prequalify prospects, or have you decided to do business whatever way those who buy from you want?  

If you are fortunate enough to get referrals from past clients, do you want to do business with their referrals in the same way you had to do business with them?  If you do business differently each time, will you even remember how you served the referring customer so you can repeat it?   Is that what the referral is expecting or do they have their own plans for how they want you to do business with them?


Choosing how to do business as a remodelerThe importance to your brand

Deciding how you will do business is one way to define the brand of your business and therefore the type of clients and project types it will attract.   For example if you offer professional design, and charge for it, people who value design will likely do business with you and be willing to pay for it.   On the other hand if you do design for free some consumers will like free and may be attracted to your business.  However my experience as a design/builder was that people who want free design also expect other things for free.  Which customer would you prefer to attract?


Become a specialist rather than a generalist

If someone asked you how you do business what would you say?   Have you already decided and defined it?  Or, would you be at a loss to explain it in a logic order?   If you do business differently, depending on who you take on as customers, what will you decide to say next time someone asks you?  Will your answer attract or detract the prospect you are in front of?  Are you hoping they just won’t ask?

Juggling oranges-WR.jpgManaging one way of doing business is hard enough.  Do you really want to manage an unlimited number of business methods?

Rather than think you need to serve everyone why not decide who your ideal client will be and how you will do business, to both attract them to your business and serve them like they have never been served before by any other remodeler.

Remember, if you are just like all the other remodelers you will become a commodity and will be forced to compete on price.   If you stand out as different, and customers want different, they will have little choice but to pay the price to get different.

Who’s running your business anyway?


Related articles:

Contractors and Remodelers: Decide Your Niche and Then Go Get It!

Three Ways To Get Fewer Leads But Close More Remodeling Sales

If One Of These People Asks, Can You Explain How Your Remodeling Company Does Business?

How A Contractor’s Web Site Marketing Can Speed Up The Sales Cycle

Topics: Business Growth, Differentiating your Business, Customer Relations, Creating Referrals

Getting Prospects to Buy Remodeling Services When the Investment Cost is Higher Than the Return

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jul 21,2016 @ 05:30 AM

How to Get Prospects to Buy Remodeling Services When the Investment Cost is Higher Than the Return

Remodeling ROI



One of the selling points of a home improvement project is its projected return on investment.  But let’s say you’re talking to a potential client and you’re making a presentation for a home remodeling project. What if the client points out that he can’t get a 100% or more return on his investment? How can you still get him to buy your remodeling services?  Read on for some strategies that can help you get them to buy.


Your presentation should focus on the benefits they can get right away

  • Focus your presentation on the benefits that the homeowners will get once the remodeling project is done. For example if they’re considering an attic conversion, help them feel that the investment is worth it because they can get an extra living space and maybe use it as a bedroom. It’s surely more affordable than a new bedroom addition.


Treat the future return on investment as a bonus

Selling Remodeling ROIThe real returns on investment are the benefits they’ll experience as soon as the remodeling project is done. That’s what they’ll be paying for. As soon as they’ve realized that the benefits make the cost worth it, you can then tell them that as a bonus, they can recoup a good part of their investment when they sell their home in the future.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if you’ll mention it as if selling their home in the future will be out of the question with all the benefits that they’ll get to experience and love.


Condition the mind of the prospects to be appreciative of the price

What problems are going to be solved with the remodeling project? Will it solve the problem of lack of space, outdated fixtures, damages, etc.? Condition their mind in such a way that their investment is to solve these problems. Prospects will be more appreciative of the price when they’re conditioned to think that it’s going to solve their problems.


Focus on you as a remodeler

The National Association of Home Builders conducted a survey in the 70s that showed that price was 7th in the list of considerations of homeowners purchasing a new home or remodeling an existing one. The 1st on the list is the reputation of the company.

Sure, that survey was more than 4 decades ago, but it’s hard to think of homeowners not giving the company’s reputation prime consideration in their decision. Besides in a 2013 survey conducted by Houzz, 81% out of 100,000 respondents said that good reviews and recommendations are very important. In the same survey, 70% of the respondents said that expertise in their field is very important.

On the other hand, only 8% of the respondents said that getting the lowest cost option is very important.

Help them invest in you and not on your services. Point out to your credentials. Showcase your portfolio. Share the feedback that you’ve been getting. Address their fears.


Give them a detailed quote

Presenting a Remodeling proposal

You can’t just quote them without showing them what they’re going to get. Help them understand what they’re going to get. If they see a comprehensive list of needed products and services, they’ll be more open to the cost.


Help them lower the cost

If the cost is really important to them, you can help them lower the cost but not to the point of cutting into your profit margins. For example in a kitchen remodeling project, you can recommend painting the backsplash instead of tiling it. They can save thousands of dollars without you compromising your margins. It’s very different from lowering your overall fee and still sticking with tiling the backsplash.

Hopefully, these strategies will help you sign up prospects even if they’re having second thoughts due to the ROI that’s lower than the investment cost. To get a better understanding of the expected ROI of remodeling a home, visit Contractor Quotes to see the infographic on the topic.


Thomas Jepsen


Guest Blogger: Thomas Jepsen is the owner of the website Contractor Quotes which helps homeowners save time and money by putting them in contact with screened contractors in their area. Additionally, Contractor Quotes provides an array of articles on different kinds of home improvement.


Topics: Sales, Differentiating your Business, Customer Relations

How Contractors Can Build and Better Their Client Relationships

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jul 05,2016 @ 05:00 AM

How Contractors Can Build and Better Their Client Relationships

Ways Contractors Can Build Better Client RelationshipsThough going above and beyond with the project at hand is usually the No. 1 priority for contractors, creating and cultivating client relationships follows closely behind in position No. 2. Any business owner and manager knows that building and maintaining great relationships with clients — otherwise known as relationship marketing — is key to a company’s success. Many companies, however, do not employ a dedicated customer relationship manager (CRM). But that doesn’t mean relationship marketing should be pushed to the wayside. We’ve gathered four tips on how you can help cultivate positive relationships with clients right now:

Connecting the Dots

One CEO says her best tip is to be a connector. In other words, when meeting a potential new client, or even a current client, ask yourself what you can do for them. Aside from the job or project at hand, perhaps you’ve gleaned from the conversation that he or she could use a referral to a good painter, or even something as minor as a good place for lunch. Giving clients or potential clients access to your network can help them gain confidence in your advice. Always having an “I can help” attitude, even if it doesn’t directly benefit you, will leave a positive effect on people...and could result in more business or a referral one day.

Get Clear

Experts also agree that clear communication goes a long way in keeping clients happy. They say to be upfront from the very moment you meet with clients or potential clients so you can bid in a fair and accurate way. Also, be sure you are completely clear on client expectations and that they are clear on what you can deliver to ensure a united vision. Additionally, using layman’s terms with clients who may not have excessive construction experience can help them understand better and not feel awkward by asking for clarification.

Further, deciding from the start who the point of contact will be on both ends, as well as determining the preferred mode of communication — whether text, email or phone calls — can help avoid ambiguity.

Number One

Thanking remodeling clientsAnother best practice is to treat every client like your most important client. Since satisfied clients are more likely to refer you, it is wise to provide each and every client with your very best service, no matter if they are bringing you the largest payment or the smallest. Just like in life, you never know who people know, and who they may (or may not) refer you to. Not to mention, today’s startup could be tomorrow’s Fortune 500 Company. So provide service accordingly.

Tokens of Appreciation

While offering clients your own company swag — pens, T-shirts, etc. — is a nice way to share your appreciation and get your name out there, it is wise to consider doing more. Sometimes, even the smallest form of a “thank you” is deeply appreciated by clients. Don’t underestimate the power of something as small as a hand-written thank-you card. However, if you’d like to go above and beyond, an unexpected gift delivery at the end of the project or on a holiday can send a bigger message of thanks.

An unexpected delivery can brighten anyone’s day. Perhaps you know that your client is a wine enthusiast or enjoys a good microbrew. As such, a gift delivery with these items offers a personal touch. If you’re unsure of what to send, custom gift baskets full of luxury spa items, gourmet chocolates or sweet treats and cookies are always a safe bet. Beautifully designed and wrapped, FTD gift baskets offer a touch of class and will be something your client is sure to remember and appreciate.


Sheryl Coonan


Guest Blogger: Sheryl Coonan is a lifestyle, fashion and business writer from metro Detroit.



Topics: Business Growth, Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Marketing Ideas, Guest Blogs, Building Relationships, Marketing Considerations, Customer Relations

8 Unique Ways Mobile Technology Helps Contractors on the Job

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, May 24,2016 @ 08:33 AM

technology options for contractors

Contractors are joining the ranks of workers who bring their own devices to the workplace. A Texas A&M survey found that 72 percent of professional contractors now use smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge at work, while 53.9 percent use laptops and 50.1 percent use tablets.

Mobile devices are assisting contractors in virtually every phase of construction, from finding clients and managing projects to making estimates and bookkeeping. Here are some of the top ways mobile technology is helping contractors on the job.

Customer Relationship Management

Any construction job starts with a client, and customer relationship management tools such as Improveit 360 make it easier to find and manage clients. The Improveit 360 app is especially designed with the needs of contractors, remodelers and home pros in mind. It includes tools for:

  • Phone and email marketing
  • Centralizing your incoming lead database
  • Tracking and managing leads
  • Preventing duplicate leads
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Sales


Invitations to Bid

apps for contractorsThe bidding process is a big part of landing clients, and bid invitation apps like SmartBidNet are designed to make it easier for you to win projects. SmartBidNet provides a communications dashboard, where you can send, receive and monitor your invitations to bid. The app includes templates to help you:

  • Formulate and start the draft bid process
  • Customize subcontractor access options
  • Share calendars to manage bid deadlines



Estimating is one of the most important and time-consuming parts of the bidding process. Construction calculator apps like BuildCalc make estimating easier by providing a spreadsheet-style layout, where you can enter and calculate bid data. BuildCalc comes with design layouts for different parts of a building to help you develop details of your estimate, material estimation tools and quick conversion tools for distance, area, volume, weight and angles.


Building Information Modeling

With today's technology, digital building information modeling is the most efficient and least expensive way to plan projects. The Autodesk app allows you to do BIM from your mobile device. The app also helps you build more efficiently and cost-effectively by letting you create 3-D models of your building projects that you can rotate and even animate.


Project Management

Once you start a construction project, use your smartphone to manage it through an app like Fieldwire, which is designed to assist construction managers and workers in the field. Fieldwire enables you to:

  • Pull up blueprints
  • Share files with your crew
  • Create and assign tasks
  • Track issues using photos from the field
  • Receive notifications when tasks are updated



osha_logo-wr.jpgSafety comes first on any project. From a technology standpoint, the Safety Meeting app makes it easier for contractors to comply with OSHA safety meeting regulations. Safety Meeting allows you to:

  • Schedule meetings
  • Pull up safety meeting topics
  • Document meetings
  • Receive incident and near miss reports


Field Data Collection

The success of any construction project depends on accurate data collection, and field data apps like Canvas make it easier for you to collect the information you need. In addition, Canvas lets you:

  • Create and fill out forms
  • Capture photos
  • Obtain GPS coordinates
  • Perform calculations
  • Send emails and files to crew members



QuickBooks for contractorsBookkeeping is a necessary chore for any contractor, and accounting apps like QuickBooks Online take much of the labor out of bookkeeping by letting you automate the most repetitive and tedious bookkeeping tasks. Use your mobile device and let QuickBooks Online:

  • Manage your cash flow
  • Send invoices
  • Accept payments
  • Scan receipts
  • Make and record deposits
  • Pay bills and expenses
  • Create monthly statements
  • Print or email reports
  • Export data into tax preparation software


Topics: Technology for Remodelers, Business Management, Customer Relations

Contractor Checklist: What To Do If You Are Sued

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, May 19,2016 @ 05:00 AM

What contractors should do if sued

Owning a business can be uniquely rewarding, but rewards do not come without risk.  Perhaps the most dreaded of those risks is a lawsuit.  While some contractors who get sued keep that worry in the back of their minds, others avoid thinking about legal issues altogether, or worse; they assume it can’t happen to them.  But contractor law suits do happen. Often.  While you can’t guarantee that you won’t be sued, you can prepare yourself by having a plan of action in the event of a lawsuit.

Here are the steps contractors should take if they get sued:

  • Take notes about service of process.  Each jurisdiction has rules governing service of process (how you were informed of the law suit). Take note on how you were served so that you or your lawyer can determine whether there are grounds to challenge service.
  • DO NOT ignore the Complaint! Do not throw the Complaint in a drawer and try to forget about it. Failing to respond to a Complaint could result in default judgment against you or your company. The sooner you act, the more control you have over the situation.
  • Review the Complaint. Read the Complaint to gather some basic information about the suit. Who filed the suit?  Is the plaintiff suing your company, you, or both?  Why has the plaintiff filed suit? How much money is the plaintiff demanding? 
  • Checklist for contractors who get suedContact a lawyer. Do not attempt to engage the plaintiff on your own. Contact an attorney experienced in construction law.  Your attorney will help you analyze and understand your risks. If the amount in controversy is small, your attorney can advise you on how to best represent yourself. After consulting an attorney, you will be able to make an informed decision about how to proceed with the lawsuit.
  • Contact your insurance company.  If you think that you may have insurance coverage for the plaintiff’s claims, contact your insurance company immediately, since most insurance companies require prompt notification of the claim. Your attorney can also assist you in reviewing your policy and obtaining coverage.
  • Collect and preserve documents: Collect all documents, photographs, correspondence, etc. (electronic or paper) related to the case so that you can review them with your lawyer. Do not delete or destroy anything.  Hiding information from your lawyer can only hurt your case.  You could also face severe sanctions from the court for destroying or withholding information during the case.
  • Be careful who you speak to.  Your conversations with your attorney are generally privileged. However, anything you say to a third party could make its way to the other side.
  • Consider whether you can settle the case right now.  The vast majority of lawsuits end in a settlement.  Settling the case at an early stage can save a lot of cost and


You can’t guarantee that you won’t ever be sued but you can prepare yourself by having an action plan in the event of a lawsuit.


Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for consultation with a legal professional.


Renee Schwerdt Construction attourney Pittsburgh PAGuest Blogger:  Renee Schwerdt, Esq., Owner/Attorney at Plumb & True Legal Consulting and Representation.  Renee is an attorney and the owner of Plumb & True Legal, a law firm that serves contractors, architects, vendors and others in the construction industry.  Her new blog, Level Up, is available here.


Topics: Legal Related, Contracts, Guest Blogs, Customer Relations, Insurance Considerations

How To Handle Mold And Avoid Liability As A Contractor

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, May 16,2016 @ 05:00 AM

How To Handle Mold And Avoid Liability As A Contractor

What contractors should do if they find moldMold remediation experts are not the only contractors who encounter mold on a fairly regular basis. Often times, the homeowner does not learn that there is mold in their house until a contractor points it out. This may be a restoration contractor, an HVAC contractor or even a plumbing contractor.  Read on to find out how contractors can handle mold at their job sites and avoid liability.


Contractors should always warn homeowners if they spot mold on the job even if that is not why they are there. Mold can pose a serious risk to the foundation of the home as well as the health and safety of the inhabitants. The homeowner can then contact an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) to fully diagnose the problem.

This should be good news to the homeowner. However, this puts the contractors in a tough position. Over the past few years, there have been a growing number of lawsuits against contractors who pointed out the mold to the homeowner. The homeowners often attempt to place the blame on the contractors as the source of the mold, but why?


A Way Out For The Insurance Companies

The number of claims made to insurance companies regarding mold damage began to skyrocket in the 90s and 2000s. This was good for the homeowner because the insurance providers paid to have the mold removed and the area restored. It was also good for the restoration contractors because the insurance companies were paying them to do their job. The only entity that didn't benefit from this growing awareness was the insurance provider who had to cover the costs.

Insurance companies found a way out of this predicament by including new and more severe mold exclusion clauses in their policies. This meant the insurance companies were no longer paying for mold remediation. The funds had to come from the homeowner, the contractor, a lender, or a third-party source.

Homeowners didn't want to be stuck with the bill so they began opening lawsuits against contractors claiming that the mold was a result of their work. This greatly increased the risk of working for homeowners as well as in commercial buildings.


How Can Contractors Avoid Liability?

Contractors must rely on their own insurance policies to avoid liability in many cases. Their Commercial General Liability (GPL) insurance policy is a standard tool of protection. However, there is a pollution exclusion clause included in this policy. The exclusion states that the insurance does not cover any bodily or property harm caused by the escape, dispersal, or release of pollutants.

Whether mold is considered a pollutant that is not covered by this policy is a widely debated issue. Court cases often tip one way or another without offering any universal standings. Some cases have found the policy to be too ambiguous with their definition of pollution. Others have classified mold as an airborne pollutant.

Contractor Insurance coverage for moldContractors are not advised to leave their career up to chance. Instead, contractors should consider investing in new insurance policies that are specifically designed to cover mold and pollutants. (As well as the standard GPL policy) Contractors Pollution Liability (CPL) covers liability for such pollutants with a clear definition that includes mold or fungi.

CPL may be the best tool currently available for contractors to avoid liability when mold is discovered on a property. That is in addition to proper risk management. Properly managing risk means carefully choosing what customers to work with and how the problem is approached if detected.


Dealing With Customers

The customers a contractor chooses to work with, how well they document their work, and how they approach the customer regarding mold will play a big role in how the situation unfolds. First, it's a good idea to avoid working with customers that already seem disgruntled with insurance companies.

This is especially true for mold remediation contractors where the homeowner already knows of the problem and isn't happy that their insurance policy doesn't cover the loss. They may still try to pin further damage on the contractor that outweighs the bill for the services provided. These customers are time bombs that should be avoided when possible.

Addressing the issue as carefully as possible is the final point of recommendation. It's important for contractors to put themselves in the homeowner's position. Mold remediation can be expensive work and the insurance providers have dumped the costs on the homeowner. They need to approach the subject carefully, with empathy, and with a proper course of action.

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Risk Exists

It is impossible to work as a contractor and avoid risk altogether. However, by utilizing ethical work standards, by carefully choosing and approaching customers, and by adding CPL policies to their arsenal they can greatly reduce the risk associated with mold.

RS Hall, Mold expert


Guest Blogger: R.S. Hall is the owner of several successful businesses and the publisher of the website which provides solutions for mold problems.



Topics: Production Considerations, Guest Blogs, Legal Considerations, Customer Relations, Insurance Considerations, Risk Management

The Difference the Right Employees Can Make For Your Construction Business

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jan 14,2016 @ 05:30 AM

The Difference the Right Employees Can Make For Your Construction Business

choosing good construction employeesHaving the right employees at your business can make a huge difference to your business in so many ways.
It should not be left to chance. In addition to your construction company's profitability the right employees can also make a huge difference for your customers and the way they view and or will share their experiences with others. In this article I share my experience with one United Airlines employee who helped make my experience and day way better than I had come to assume it would be.  I bet by sharing it you can use my experience as a guide to better seek, choose and train your employees.
Over the holidays this Christmas season I went on an annual goose hunting trip in Illinois with some contractor buddies.  My first return flight was delayed and I was at risk of making my connection to get back home. I was obviously bummed out.  But, thanks to just one exceptional airline employee, I made the connection and got back in time to celebrate the New Year with my family.  Here's what that employee did and why you should seek, choose and train your employees to be just like her.

First off she had a great attitude and presented herself well

The woman who checked me in was well dressed and well groomed.  Sure she had to wear a uniform (and so should your employees), but in addition to wearing professional attire she obviously also had a lot of self-respect and presented herself well.  Unlike others I observed working around her she was professionally groomed, interacted with a genuine smile and spoke with a professional vernacular. I suspect someone raised her to be that way and I could tell it was natural for her, not an act.  In my opinion hiring her was a great investment.

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Next, she managed my expectations and offered proactive assistance

how to choose the right construction employeesAs she checked me in she made me aware that my flight was likely to be delayed and therefore making my tight connecting flight might be at risk.  I had never had anyone else at any airline do this at check in.  She also told me why it might be late before I had chance to ask her why.  By doing so my attitude about my situation was already less stressful.  She then helped me make a "Plan B" in case I missed that flight.  By doing so I went to the gate in a much better frame of mind than the frame of mind I would have been in if I discovered my possible dilemma at the gate.  
I soon found out the flight was expected to be delayed by at least 30 minutes, I was now assuming "Plan B"

Then she was at the gate and was working hard to mitigate potential challenges

Yes, the same woman who checked me in soon came to work the gate, and was all by herself.   I suggest, like a small business, the gate at that small airport could not support additional overhead.  She was obviously cross trained by her employer to perform a wide variety of tasks and to do so very efficiently.  For that I not only credit her employer for properly training her, but for also hiring an employee with the right cognitive abilities and a desire to learn.  For that I can probably also credit her as well as whoever raised her and or mentored her in her formative years.  With her actions, knowledge and a professional demeanor she got the incoming passengers squared away, prepped things for my outbound flight, and very efficiently got us all boarded faster that I have ever experienced before.  And I travel a lot!  She minimized the potential delay big time like it was second nature.

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The good news was that I made my connection to get home. 

how to hire the right employeesThe better news, for me and her employer, is that she restored my faith in her company as a preferred option.  The next time I have a choice when deciding between available airline options to serve my traveling needs my experience that day with her will definitely become part of my buying decision.

I hope sharing my experience that day will help you make better hiring plans and decisions.  For additional help and insight check out his article titled "One Simple but Powerful Tip for Hiring the Right Employees”


Topics: Hiring and Firing, Worker Training, Recruting, Team Building, Differentiating your Business, Culture, Customer Relations, Creating Referrals

How Contractors Can Build & Protect Their Brand Reputation

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Sep 09,2015 @ 12:59 PM

How Contractors Can Build & Protect Their Brand Reputation

Brand building advice for contractorsFor contractors, brand reputation can make the difference between winning and losing a big contract. A case in point is DuPont. Over the past two decades, DuPont has built a reputation as a safety leader in the chemical industry, enabling its Sustainable Solutions unit to generate $3.9 billion a year training other companies in workplace and environmental safety. Now, that income is at risk after a series of fatalities, lawsuits, investigations, and fines have led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to place DuPont on its list of severe workplace safety standards violators. Subsequent negative publicity has DuPont's clients questioning the company's safety reputation and whether or not they want to continue using them as a contractor.

DuPont is big enough to take a hit and recover, but for a smaller contractor, even a few negative online reviews can quickly add up to significant lost business and revenue. Whether you're a large or small contractor, it's in your best interest to keep an eye on building and protecting your online reputation.


Building Your Good Name

International consultancy and construction company Mace has won Building Awards Major Contractor of the Year recognition by committing itself to putting its clients first and providing superior quality and high delivery standards. As this illustrates, customer service is the foundation of a good reputation.

Construction management consultant Paul Netscher identifies ten variables that affect your company's reputation, all of which boil down to delivering superior customer service. At the top of the list is delivering projects on time. Delivering on promises instead of overpromising and underdelivering, rectifying mistakes, honesty, and quality are also high priorities.

Overall, satisfying and exceeding your client's expectations is the foundation of building a good reputation with your customers. Making a corporate commitment to achieving this ideal is a first step towards building a solid reputation.


Promoting Your Brand Reputation

How contractors can build their brandDelivering superior customer service lays a foundation for a good reputation, but in today's digital environment, it's also important to get customers to talk about you online. What customers say about you on sites such as Google Places and Yelp has a huge impact on your online reputation.

Your customers will definitely talk about you if they're not satisfied. Contractor Nation writer Richard Fencil says the biggest reasons people complain about contractors online include shoddy work, rudeness from company representatives, high or misquoted prices, not following through on promises to get back to customers, and keeping customers on hold too long. To avoid these issues, train your staff how to communicate with your customers

You should also take proactive steps to ask satisfied customers to post reviews of you online. For instance, after a project is completed, a sales representative can contact the customer to see how it went and ask for a review. Marketing representatives, office personnel, and project managers can also take opportunities to ask for reviews.

Providing online tools on your website to make it easy for customers to review you will increase your odds of getting good reviews. Amazon is a great example of how automation can facilitate customer reviews.


Managing Your Brand

Building your brand's reputation is one thing, preserving it is another. Within your organization, you have to make sure everyone's on the same page about your brand's core message and understands what image is to be projected to customers. Outside the organization, you need to make sure that your brand image is being communicated consistently in all your contact with your customers, both online and off. You also need to monitor what customers are saying about you online in order to ensure that your message is being received, that complaints are being addressed, and that any negative publicity is being met with a positive response.

Managing all this manually can be challenging, especially considering all of the contact you make with your customers and with all the websites and social media platforms that are out there. To make this easier, WebDAM offers brand management software which gives you a single interface to make sure your brand's image is being maintained consistently throughout your organization and across all marketing channels.


Handling Complaints

How contractors can handle online complaintsOne of the biggest keys to protecting your brand's reputation is how you handle complaints. The most important step is to listen. Empathize with the customer's situation. Make sure you understand what the problem is before you attempt to resolve it, and make sure they agree with any resolution you propose before proceeding. If you can't resolve the issue yourself, find out where to best direct their complaint. The International Association of Professional Contractors provides more detailed guidelines for responding to customer complaints and negative online comments.



Topics: Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Marketing Ideas, Guest Blogs, Marketing Considerations, Customer Relations

What Happened When I Stopped Providing Free Estimates

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Jun 28,2015 @ 07:00 AM

Guest Blog: What Happened When I Stopped Providing Free Estimates

Mouse_trap_free_bait-wrIf you are still running free estimates and playing a numbers game of leads to appointments to sales then I have something valuable to share. In the past I believed that if I did not actively pursue new clients, and provide free estimates, I would have no income. It was a numbers game; 5 leads - 3 appointments  -1 sale. Sound familiar? In this article I share my lesson in letting go; finding the faith to trust a system to qualify prospects, and the positive impact it can make for your business as well as your cash flow.


How I discovered the solution that worked for me

For me, it was getting increasingly difficult to find and schedule client meetings with my increasing responsibilities of being a Mom with a terminal illness. Running from lead to lead was taking up the time I needed to run my business and finish the contracts that we already had in the pipeline. Holding on to how I always did things was holding us back. I needed a temporary solution to what was a temporary situation.

Then, one late fall morning while catching up with reading emails and industry updates, I came upon an article about a remodeling business joining with another remodeling business to create a winning partnership.

Inspired by that article I decided that if I could temporarily give up running the leads to create the sales opportunity I would then be able to concentrate on design, closing the deal and project execution.   Doing so would be the temporary solution I needed to solve my current challenges. It worked. I found a design firm with a great front end sales system and at the same time was struggling with project management and finding responsive sub contractors. And, fortunately there would be no conflict, as they only needed to temporarily fill this need as they were relocating out of the area in six months, one year max. It was a good fit, they were looking to hire a per contract designer/project manager. The fact that I already had a top notch construction team in place sealed the deal.


The results

How contractors can stop giving free estimatesAs a result of that temporary relationship I learned how to create a trained support staff at my own business and secured steady work for my team. By learning how to use and sell paid consultations our leads turned into project development retainers which then turned into profitable construction contracts. That temporary relationship was also a big success for the partnering firm; they had a record earning year and made a lot of money.

When I stepped out of my business and worked within a sales process for another firm it forced me to stop chasing down those leads that after too much investment of my time proved to be unqualified. As an owner, I would not have had the faith that charging for estimates would actually provide a constant flow of better customers. I was too invested in my previous training and experience as a sales person. I was dead wrong.


The change was an emotional one; here is how I did it

First I had to stop thinking of my role as being an in-home salesperson. Second, I had to better and fully understand why our clients were actually hiring us.  Finally, I had to set up a marketing and sales system that could drive value and was not contingent upon my making it through the prospect’s front door to get the “opportunity to do an estimate".


Here are the steps I took and worked for me:

Step 1. I optimize my online profiles to convey value; value to my target prospects.
Step 2. We made it easy to see reviews and then contact us.
Step 3. The first phone call replaced the in-home appointment.
Step 4. We added “homework" for the prospect to do and the use of a “paid consultation"
Step 5. We offered prospects a retainer to act as their very own personal consultant and helped them develop “their project”.


The result of adopting this system has been life changing

How to stop giving free estimatesI no longer run around from appointment to appointment. I now have the time to focus on creating more ways to provide paying prospects with value early in the process. Our business is running with more consistency and cash flow has increased. For every consultation I go on now we have a 70% close rate to a full construction contract, a 20% conversion to a design/material contract and about 10% of our prospects don’t move forward.  

Since returning to concentrate in full on my business and my new sales role gross sales have increased over the last twelve months by more than 75%. This is because we now focus on our ideal client. We actively seek clients that have budgets that match our business model and refer the other prospects to contractors that are better suited for them. Cash flow problems have all but disappeared.

It starts with faith. It took trusting a system, knowing who our client is, and having the time to create opportunities to provide value.


Cynthia MurphyGuest Blogger: Cynthia Murphy, CKBR, is a Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler and co-owner of Murphy’s Design, LLC. She operates a Design Studio in Fairfax Virginia. She will be launching her blog called “Home Design Labs” in June and hosting an industry specific interview podcast called “The Social Home Pro” this summer on iTunes and Stitcher radio. If you would like to connect with Cynthia you can contact her via her website, blog or you can email her at

Topics: Business Management, Estimating, Differentiating your Business, Earning More Money, Lead Generation, Guest Blogs, Prequalifying, Opinions from Contractors, Estimating Considerations, Customer Relations