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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

Networking & Dating: How the Two Go Hand in Hand

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Mar 14,2017 @ 05:00 AM

Networking & Dating: How the Two Go Hand in Hand

Networking guide for remodeling contractors

Not sure how to get started using networking to help grow your business?

Building a professional network can often feel like dating: putting yourself out there to strangers, not knowing what to say and carrying that fear of rejection. But just like dating, there are ways to make networking much easier. Here's how.

 Getting Out There

The first step in professional networking is simply putting yourself out there, but many of us don't know where to being — it's not like there is a Tinder app for professional networking, right?

Actually, there is. Shapr works just like Tinder, where users swipe right and left when matched up with others in their field. Many young professionals enter a room with little to no information about anyone inside, so Shapr takes the guesswork out of the equation by only pairing you with people you're interested in meeting.

But if a Tinder-like app is just too close to dating, there are always more established sites, like MeetUp.com, to connect with others in your business.

 

Networking options for contractorsMaking an Introduction

While apps like Shapr make it easier to find others, there is no avoiding introducing yourself in person every now and then. If that sounds intimidating, just remember that you're not alone in this endeavor — some of the world's most reputable entrepreneurs stood in your shoes, and found themselves not knowing anyone in the professional world.

Tim Terriss, speaker and author of Tools of Titans, spoke to a crowd at the South By Southwest Conference and Festivals about building a world-class network from nothing. He goes into extensive detail during his presentation, but the core of the story is very much like dating: be yourself, don't be afraid to say hello and ask people to tell you about themselves — people love to talk about themselves.

 

The First Date

You have a match! You met someone in your industry and the professional sparks are flying. It could be tempting to sell your service or product on day one, but you wouldn't propose on the first date, so the goal here is to take things slowly.

The best way to create a long lasting relationship — and make the sale — is to give, give, give and then ask, says investor and social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk. A good example would be a graphic designer offering marketing advice for a company or group he or she knows. After some time, if the advice has value and the graphic designer gains credibility, some will eventually become customers willing to pay.

 

Going Steady

Networking tips for contractorsIf you've ever played the game "The Sims," you know that maintaining relationships can sometimes be harder than starting them. And like dating, you often have to take the initiative to keep the relationship strong. Treating clients or close professionals to gifts or flowers will never go out of style, and many find the extra effort is appreciated by the recipient.

Once you've established a relationship, going back to the beginning can always be a pleasant surprise. Just like taking an old girlfriend or boyfriend to the place where you first met, a young professional remodeler might go back to their first industry conference to brush up on basics, or set up a few coffee dates with friends in their networking groups to chat about the market.  Many great business idea can come from chatting with peers over coffee or a cold beer.

 

Jim Burch

 

Guest Blogger: Jim Burch - Jim is a copywriter from Phoenix and avid admirer of alliteration. His goals are to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, see all 30 baseball stadiums, and eliminate the improper use of "literally," but he figuratively can't even.

 

Topics: Differentiating your Business, Marketing Ideas, Lead Generation, Guest Blogs, Creating Referrals

Only For Contractors Who Want to Use Marketing to Help Them Make Tons of Money

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Jan 29,2017 @ 05:00 AM

Only For Contractors Who Want to Use Marketing to Help Them Make Tons of Money

JLC LIVE 2017In March I will be presenting two seminars for contractors at the JLC LIVE trade show in Providence RI.  Both seminars will be marketing related and although they certainly will have value individually, the two are very complimentary towards creating an effective web site for your business.  Additionally, both are offered on the same day making it easy and cost effective to improve your marketing knowledge all on the same day.  Below I share the seminar descriptions as well as why I am offering these topics.  If you want to get better qualified leads for profitable projects, from your ideal customers, I invite you to join me.  Better yet, think of it this way.  If you are not there you better hope your completion isn’t either!

Both seminars will be held on Thursday March 23, 2017 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI.

 

JLC Show seminars by Shawn MccaddenSeminar #1: 7:30-9:00 AM

The first seminar, titled “Web Site Bootcamp for Beginners” will be an overview of how to get started and what to include if you are planning your first web site.  I put this session together because I see way too many contractors get sucked into paying for worthless web sites that might look good, but don’t do a dam thing towards causing qualified leads or profitable sales.  It will also be very helpful if you are not happy with your current web site and or are trying to figure out why it doesn’t help create lots of business. At this JLC seminar I will also share what I consider to be the “secret weapon page” you should have on your web site.

 

Seminar #2: 1:30-4:40 PM

Mccadden Seminars at JLC LIVE 2017The second seminar is actually a 3 hr. workshop with plenty of time built in for questions and interaction.  The workshop is titled “Choosing and Targeting the Right Customers and Project Types for Your Business”.  I put this JLC Marketing Workshop together to help contractors become much more strategic about the marketing they do and how they do it.  If you plan to do any marketing this workshop will help make sure you and anyone else involved has a clear understanding of exactly what you are trying to solve and or accomplish with your marketing.  That way you can make sure your employees and or marketing provider you work with can be held accountable to the purpose of the marketing they help you with, not just pay them for doing it even if it doesn’t work.  I’m even including a sample marketing plan in the handout so we can review and discuss it together at the workshop.

Scroll down to see the full description and learning objectives for the two seminars.

I hope I will see you there!

 

View JLC LIVE 2017 Show dates, location and hours

View the 2017 JLC LIVE Conference schedule

Register for JLC LIVE

 

McCadden Seminar Descriptions for JLC LIVE 2017

Web Site Boot Camp for Beginners (90 Minutes)

Every remodeling business can benefit from a well done website if it wants good customers to find and buy from it for reasons other than price.   If you have been putting off doing a website for your remodeling business because you have no idea where to start, this boot camp is for you.  Don’t worry if you don’t know what SEO means or you don’t know the difference between HTML and a URL.  This will be a down to earth presentation using language and examples every remodeler will understand. 

Learning objectives: By attending this seminar you will:

  • Identify what you need to know and consider before going forward with your website.
  • Learn to identify what you can and should do yourself and where you will need help
  • See how easy it can be to maintain and add to your web site if you have the right tools
  • Learn how to get the right people to find your website and tell others about it

 

 

Choosing and Targeting the Right Customers and Project Types for Your Business (3 Hours.)

Many remodelers and builders have come to realize that their businesses can no longer be all things to all people and that trying to do so makes it almost impossible to differentiate themselves in today’s marketplace. Smart consumers don’t want generic. They want different and they are using the internet to find, research and prequalify which businesses they will work with.

By strategically targeting specific customer types and project types your business can benefit in many ways and increase profitability at the same time. This seminar is designed to help you understand the many factors that you and your business can take into consideration if you want to successfully and profitably target, market to and attract a strategic niche.

Learning objectives: By completing this class you will:

  • Learn several powerful areas to explore and consider when identifying your target customer and niche
  • Learn how earning gross profit can depend on what you sell and how you sell it.
  • Find out how the internet and your website can help the right prospects find you and your business

 

Topics: Contractor Training, Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Web Site Related, Lead Generation, Marketing Considerations

LED Lighting Guide for Contractors

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

LED Lighting Guide for Contractors

light behind the door-WR.jpg

 

A clear understanding of how LED lighting works can open immense possibilities for contractors to be able to evaluate and compare performance of luminaires. It will also enable providers to propose the right luminaires for clients based on knowledge of light installations and how they are predicted to perform.

Benefits of LED Lighting

LED Lighting info for remodeling contractorsLED or light-emitting diode has revolutionized light installations. This type of lighting requires less energy and loses less heat. The life of a LED bub is longer compared to the traditional ones. Life spans are quoted by companies from 50,000 to 100,00 hours or nearly 100 times longer than the traditional bulb.

In addition, it does not need a lot of maintenance and replacement making it cost-effective. To demonstrate, a typical LED lighting will produce over 100 lumens per watt (LPW). Lumen is the amount of light emitted from a source.  A 100W incandescent bulb will produce the same luminosity but will use up more energy compared to LED bulbs.

Not only is LED cost-effective, it has outstanding color quality and excellent efficiency. Color rendering index (CRI) is the term used to define the ability of light or lamp to replicate the colors of an object on a scale of 1 to 100 where 100 is the equivalent of sunlight.

LED lighting is also smaller and compact, an easy and quick job for contractors.

 

What to Look for When Purchasing LED Lighting

The most important specification when buying LED is lumen output. This means that when proposing lights for certain living spaces, you will consider the amount of light it produces (brightness) and ensure it is adequate for your customers' requirements. For example, you will need brighter lights in working spaces such as the kitchen and dimmer lights in the bedroom to induce sleep.

reading the paper-WR.jpgThen you will need to look at the LPW or lumens per watt. Put simply, this is the amount of lumens produced for every watt that is used. The higher the number, the better it is in order to match the CCT or the correlated temperature (measurement of coolness or warmth) measured in kelvins (K). It indicates whether a light is warm, neutral or cool white in appearance. Finally, you have to compare the CRI, with a higher rating a better choice, that is, greater than 80 is rated as good and greater than 90, very good.

 

Other Features to Consider

Safety certifications vary across different regions in the world such as UL, ETL, CSA, NOM and CE. Products must be rated for moisture conditions and intended use/application such as dry, damp or wet. You might see two codes: ingress protection (IP) and insulation contact (IC). IP ratings consist of two numbers: first one indicates protections against solids including dust (0-6 where 0 means not protected and 6 well-protected). IC ratings indicate protections against liquids (0-8 where 0 means not protected and 8 means that it can be submerged in liquids).

Overall, contractors have a large number of reasons for using LED light bulbs as opposed to rival bulb types. As mentioned above these range from flexibility of design and function, to lower energy costs and longevity. The LED bulb's market share is growing just as its purchase price decreases. This is giving contractors the perfect opportunity to create new, stunning and innovative designs, features, and displays that has not been possible until now. Using LEDs will give you the design edge you are looking for to stand out from the crowd.

 

Guest Blogger: Leigh Marcos worked in home design and lighting before becoming a mother of two and a freelance writer. A keen photographer, she enjoys taking her dogs for long walks through the countryside in the hope of getting that perfect shot.

Topics: Green Considerations, Differentiating your Business, Design Trends, Guest Blogs, Design Options

How to Make Your Construction Business Wildly Successful Online

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jul 26,2016 @ 05:30 AM

Online marketing for contractors

Construction is a large umbrella ranging from handyman projects to large, multi-funded developments. Some contractors are all tools and skill while others are masters of management and leverage. Fitting all of this under the single category of e-commerce is futile. To truly create a web presence, you need to know your marketing voice and develop your site around the things that drive your audience.

Expert Driven Design

Some people are selling themselves as experts in their industry. For this central marketing message, a blog may be the best. Blogs tend to be written in first or second person, using “me” and “you,” which automatically develops a bond between the writer and the audience. They are usually descriptive, telling the reader how and why something should be done. Take a look at the Amway blog as a good example of a business blog concentrating on industry expertise. Inc Magazine has some good tips for creating content for a great business blog as well.

The Supply Chain Site

Attracting remodeling clients onlineIn manufacturing, the supply chain is extremely important. The supply chain is the total process from inception to customer care, including suppliers, marketers and the title company that assists in closing. In construction, this is project management and some e-commerce sites use its unique issues as the driving message. An e-commerce supply chain site will be broken down into specific topics of project management. One section may have a supplier and a shopping cart for these items. Another section would have human resource information and your services listed. The idea is that the website will guide a user through the entire breadth of project development.

Product as the Traditional E-Commerce Website

When most people think of e-commerce, they think of Amazon with its departments and lists of item after item. If you are selling products, the traditional e-commerce rules apply. Your site needs to have an easily identifiable navigation bar and solid search functions. The images need to be clear and sharp, being part of a good preview system. Your descriptions should be both poetic and specific, enumerating the product specs in bulleted form. As part of a larger marketing plan, the site and every individual item needs to be easily shareable on social media.

Social Motivated Websites

Where some contractors are focused on their expertise, others are social and friendly, providing a marketing message centered on trust. In the construction industry, this is huge. A trusted contractor is worth his weight in gold. Like the expert site, the social site is content driven but here it is a dialogue instead of a monologue. It should revolve around active social media feeds that allow for a conversation format. A question and answer section will keep people on your site longer and keep them coming back, both being keys to successful e-commerce sales.

The Mix

The gut reaction is to try and do everything, but the reality is that you do not have experience in every facet of the construction industry. Your specialization should be reflected on your website. As your e-commerce site is developed, some things will be added while others will be discarded. A shopping cart is only useful for selling products but generally not for services. Just make certain the website can be shared on social media since it is a good source of marketing.

 

 

Topics: Technology for Remodelers, Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Web Site Related, Social Media for Contractors

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

Great Way to Filter Through Leads and Get Better Remodeling Customers

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Jun 01,2016 @ 05:00 AM

Prequalifying Remodeling Leads

 

With the Remodeling marketplace booming this spring and predictions of close to a 10% increase in remodeling spending this year over last there will be plenty of work out there for remodeling contractors in 2016.   With the surge in mind I have been coaching my contractor clients to be smart about how they do business.   I have been stressing that they should take advantage of this surge by being selective about the customers they choose to work with and by raising their margins now before they get too booked up and regret becoming unavailable.  If this makes sense to you and for your business read on to find out how to do fewer sales calls but at the same time close higher margin deals.

 

Agree on an agenda before committing to a sales call

Before you even commit to a sales call get your prospect’s commitment to discuss and commit to an agenda for the first sales call.  Doing so can help you control the sales call as well as how your valuable and limited time will be invested.  

The agenda should include the things they want to accomplish as well as the things you want to accomplish at that first meeting.   If you can’t or won’t agree to what they want to accomplish, or they won’t agree to what you want to accomplish, then simply let them know you won’t be able to help them. 

 

These three things should be part of your agenda

After you hear and approve of the items they want on the agenda ask permission to share the items you want on the agenda.  You can include anything you want on your agenda but make sure at a minimum you get a commitment to discuss these three things before asking them if it still makes sense to invite you over:

 

Can we talk about why you want to do your project?

How to prequalify remodeling leadsYou will need to know this info to create a unique solution and to have confidence in what you suggest to them when discussing options.  You will also need to know this information to avoid becoming a commodity contractor by just giving them a price on what they thought they needed.  You know, just like pretty much every commodity contractor does every day.

 

Can we talk about your budget for this project?

Let them know you will either need to get a realist budget from them in order to help them, or that you can let them know what they should assume for a budget.  But, be clear that a requirement of getting together will be to discuss and decide if there is a fit between their budget and the scope of work they would like completed.

 

Can we talk about how you plan to make your decisions?

how remodelers can set a sales call agendaYou need to get their commitment to discuss how they will decide about important project details as well as which contractor they will ultimately partner with.  If you don’t know how they plan to make these decisions how can you possibly help them make decisions and why should you be surprised when they don’t or can’t decide? 

If they don’t know how they plan to make decisions think of it as your job to help them figure that out.  That alone can help differentiate you from the commodity contractors.    

      

Setting the agenda shows you’re serious and filters out the commodity buyers

Many of my consulting clients are now using what I call “the agenda step” as a way to prequalify who they are willing to visit.  By creating this agenda they essentially give their prospects some homework to do to get ready for the visit.  After my clients get good at setting the agenda they experience much better close ratios and they all report selling to much better customers.  They also report most of these better customers are also willing to pay higher prices.  

After setting the appointment several of my clients even send a follow-up appointment confirmation email documenting the agreed agenda.

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One more thing to keep in mind

Good customers who are willing to have honest discussions and are willing to pay more for “different” hang around with other people just like them.  After successfully putting the agenda step in place at your business, like my clients, you will probably get referrals to more good customers who will pay more for different.

If you want some help improving your sales results contact me today!

 

Topics: Sales Considerations, Differentiating your Business, Earning More Money, Lead Generation, Prequalifying, Creating Referrals

Guerilla Advertising: Transform Boring Ideas into Surefire Sales

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, May 10,2016 @ 05:00 AM

Guerilla Advertising: Transform Boring Ideas into Surefire Sales

Guerilla marketing for contractorsIf you are Bechtel Construction, with more than $17 billion in operations, you need not worry about advertising under budgets in such a way that would prevent you from putting food on the table.  After all, most in the construction industry, including designers and architects, are sole owners, with few if any employees. But for those of us who don't have a million-dollar advertising budget, we can turn to and rely on guerilla marketing and advertising to get our brand message out there.

 

Guerilla Marketing Defined

Guerilla marketing is generally characterized by unique or unconventional advertisements that create buzz because they are so mind-blowing. Since it relies more on cleverness than mass reproduction, guerilla marketing is hallmarked by being very cost effective and, in some cases, free.

Michael Serazio, author of Your Ad Here: The Cool Sell of Guerilla Marketing, calls this marketing style the “cool sell,” because of its strategy to use buzz to promote brand awareness, as opposed to a hotter sell of directly advertising the product.

 

Goals of a Guerilla Campaign

How Remodelers can use Guerilla MarketingWord of mouth is still one of the best marketing tools a business can utilize. In the world of social media, word of mouth is amplified by the power of the Internet.

Likewise, guerilla marketing uses this phenomenon to get people talking about your brand by doing something clever and worthy of conversation. Named for its analogy to guerilla warfare, this marketing strategy ambushes potential customers using the element of surprise, sabotages competitors in the domain of brand reputation, and uses tactics to reach potential target demographics in a more efficient way.

 

Tap Into the Buyer's Persona

Of course, any marketing campaign has the ultimate goal of driving sales. You want consumers to recognize your company, but you also need them to use your business.

Guerilla marketing is excellent at influencing consumer purchasing habits. Because it relies on cleverness, this marketing technique inherently sends a message that your business is smart and savvy. The assumption is that you can use this brainpower for the benefit of your clients; all they need to do is pick up the phone and call you.

 

Going Green and Other Niches

Guerilla marketing is limited in size to a specific advertising platform. In business, this is called a niche market.

Working a narrow demographic of like minded people will lower your advertising costs, make it easier to find ideas that resonate with consumers, and increase your brand reputation. The “green” niche is particularly well suited for the construction industry. Since regular advertising is generally viewed very skeptically, green guerilla marketing can be a trusted alternative.

 

Case Study

Examples of guerilla marketing for contractorsNow that you have an understanding of the components for guerilla marketing, it would suit you well to examine the strategies of some of the more successful companies.

As an eye-catching and surprising motif, various zoos across the country have used the sides of buses drawn to look like a snake or a rhino denting the vehicle for their guerilla marketing efforts.

Because contractors are constantly on the road, it would be beneficial of them to use their vehicles for advertising purposes. If the vehicle is banged up, then look into purchasing a new or used vehicle and write it off as a marketing expense. From there, your job is to get creative. Make your vehicle look like it's overloaded, and paint the motto “we are full of your dreams."

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Topics: Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Marketing Ideas, Lead Generation