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Finding the Perfect Customers For Your Remodeling Business

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Sep 24,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Finding the Perfect Customers For Your Remodeling Business

Perfect customers for remodelers


Most contractors I meet are attracted to the trades and running their own businesses because they love the work.  But, when contractors allow the wrong customers to buy from them those customers can quickly take all the pleasure and reward out of being in business and working with the tools.

At the Remodeling Show last year I asked a group of seminar attendees if they had their choice of customer types who they would prefer to work for.  One contractor said he only wanted to work with “nice people”

His answer drew some laughs, but we all agreed it would be nice if all customers were nice.  I also asked him what he meant by nice.  His response included characteristics like pay on time, make and stick to decisions, and being kind to him and his employees; treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve.  Wouldn’t that be nice!


There are many characteristics about customers that can be used to differentiate between them.  

Remodeling customer demograficsEach characteristic can make a difference regarding who they are and what it will be like to work with them.   If you think back on past projects you can probably identify a variety of characteristics that make up the ideal customer type for you and your business.  Who they are as people, and their personality traits, are definitely important.  Also though, just as important as the personality of customers, can be other differentiating characteristics called demographics.  Used in combination with personality traits, demographics can help contractors target market prospects who are also most likely to buy what they are selling. 

Demographics are the quantifiable statistics of a given population of people.  Smart and strategic business owners seeking to work with a specific customer type will combine several demographic variables to define the demographic profile of those customers.  Then, using that profile as a guide, they do marketing in ways and places where their target customers can be found.


Here is a partial list of customer demographics contractors can use to target their ideal customers


      • Target marketing for contractorsMarital Status
      • Gender
      • Age Ranges
      • Number of People in Household
      • Income Information
      • Actual Home Market Value (predefined ranges)
      • Home Equity Loan and Amount
      • Year Home Built
      • Owner vs. renter
      • Family Composition
      • Length of Residence
      • Fuel type
      • Dwelling Type: Single vs. Multi-Family
      • Occupation


So, give me an example of how to use customer demographics:

Here is an example of a fictitious remodeling company’s target customer description using demographics. For this example we will assume the remodeling contractor is looking to offer smaller repair type projects at high margins.

Target customers for remodelersThe goal of this marketing campaign is to build a customer list of people who will continually need more work due to the age of the home they live in, and or will refer the company to other people just like them who are willing to pay more to get the comfort and quality offered by a professional and legal business.  We want and will use this customer list so we can market additional services to the same homeowners in the future.

To accomplish this goal the company is looking to work with married couples who either have very young children (no time to do the work themselves) and or empty nesters (been there, done all that, want to keep my free time for outdoor activities).  Combined household income should be at least $150K so we know they can afford the work.  Target home must be built after 1977 so the RRP rule will not apply.  Target customers must either have no mortgage or a home equity loan with at least a $100K available balance so it is likely they have money to do larger projects in the future.   

Oh, and we don’t enjoy working for engineers who want to tell us how to do our jobs so will eliminate them from our mailing lists.


Remodeling Show 2013I'll be back at the Remodeling Show again this year. 

If you come to my sessions be sure to say hello!

"Choosing and Targeting The Right Customers and Project Types for Your Business"

"Success Starts With a Business Plan"




Topics: Success Strategies, Marketing, Marketing Ideas, Lead Generation, Marketing Considerations, Creating Referrals, RRP Related

After Bad Experience Contractor Shares Thoughts With His Employees

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jun 13,2013 @ 06:00 AM

After Bad Experience At His Own Home, Contractor Shares Thoughts With His Employees

Tim Piendel of GreatHouse Atlanta


Guest Blogger: Tim Piendel is the Principal of GreatHouse Atlanta, a full service design/build remodeling firm serving north metro Atlanta. Reach him at or 678.352.1035.




Back story to this guest blog

Contractor email to employeesTim is one of my coaching/mentoring clients.  We have been working together to help Tim grow his business and put a plan in place so he can slowly reduce his day to day involvement by empowering current and new employees as his business evolves.   Tim shared the email below with me after sending it to his employees.  In the email Tim shares a challenge he had with a painting contractor doing work at his own home as a way to help his employees understand how GreatHouse wants to build and protect its brand.  With his permission I am sharing it with you.


Here is Tim’s email text.

ALL GreatHouse Employees and Subcontractors:

I just wanted to share with you an experience I recently had with a contractor since I don't want this happening with our jobs. It is my intention to stay successfully in business and I want you to be part of that success.

Here's the story…

Just recently I had some painting work done on my home. There were two parts to the project, a preparation and a completion. The contractor came to my home and performed the first part of the project but did a poor job. I pointed it out and gave the person a chance to fix it but I was given excuses. I talked it over with my wife and we fixed part of the project ourselves and called the contractor back to fix the issue. They came back and saw what a corrected preparation should be like but offered no apologies, just excuses. They finished the preparation fine after that, but I, as a homeowner had to initiate it. 

The next step was to complete the project. This was an exterior project so it was expected they would not be here when the rain had made completing the project impractical. However, there was no call. Kind of obvious, but still, a courtesy call is always welcome. The next day came and was ideal for completing the work. However, the contractor was a no show and a no call. This is unacceptable. Now, with rain coming in again, the project was delayed another week. At this point, as a homeowner, I am frustrated, mad, and have lost confidence in the contractor. This all could have been remedied with a simple communication. 

Lessons learned…

1. NO MATTER WHAT THE JOB, DO IT RIGHT! Shoddy workmanship always cost you more in the long run. Return trips always cost more in dollars and confidence.

2. DON'T MAKE EXCUSES. APOLOGIZE AND MOVE ON! A customer does not want to hear excuses; they just want honesty and closure. Besides, you'll dig yourself a deeper hole.

3. YOU CANNOT OVER COMMUNICATE!!!!!! Call, text, email…whatever is appropriate, but do so promptly and often.

4. AGAIN, YOU CANNOT OVER COMMUNICATE!!!!! When you don’t call to say where you are and they are expecting you, they are just sitting there boiling and waiting to pounce on you and make your job harder and unpleasant.

You may think that your job is only to complete your service or product but that is only part of it. We are PRIMARILY in the customer service business. We have fabulous clients! By the nature of our business, we are invited into people’s homes and we must respect their rules and timing. We must earn and keep their trust. They must have CONFIDENCE that we will complete the project correctly, on time and on budget. That's what we do.

Thank you for your time. As always, feel free to contact me with any question or comments. I want all of us to be successful. I am willing to help anyone that needs help.

'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.' - Aristotle



Tim Piendel


GreatHouse Atlanta wr

Topics: Team Building, Differentiating your Business, Production Considerations, Mentoring/Coaching, Guest Blogs, Building Relationships, Marketing Considerations, Culture, Customer Relations, Sage Advice

Why Some Contractors Can Raise Their Prices But Most Others Can’t

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, May 23,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Why Some Contractors Can Raise Their Prices But Most Others Can’t

Why contractors sell on price


If you are a contractor or remodeler who has been selling on price to close work, you may have a difficult time raising prices as the economy improves.  I say this because as a result of selling on low prices during the recession you may have created a "low price brand" image in your marketplace.  Referrals and prospects who know about your brand will be expecting low prices and will not buy from you if your prices are higher than they experienced and or were told by your referring past customers. 


Can, will you, rebrand your business?

Perhaps by selling on low price during the recession you have doomed yourself to remain there.  You can of course re-market your business to create a new brand, but that will take a whole new strategy than you have used in the past, and it will also cost lots of money.  Keep in mind it will also take much longer to replace or correct a brand than creating the right brand from the get-go.  Rebranding may not be an option if your low prices didn’t or doesn’t generate enough gross profit to pay for doing it.

Also, if you’re a great carpenter without any real professional sales training and sales skills, you will probably not have much luck raising your prices because you don't know how to sell to begin with.   Think about it.  That lack of sales training is probably why you had to drop your prices during the recession just so you could sell something.

And, if you are a contractor who relies almost exclusively on referrals and word of mouth, and don’t do any marketing, you are not likely to get enough leads to take the risk of raising your prices.   


Why some contractors will have success raising their prices

How Contractors Can Raise Their Prices


However, those contractors with great marketing and sales skills, those who charged enough during the recession to bring in the gross profit dollars needed to keep doing and pay for great marketing and sales systems at their business, are in a great position to raise their prices.  When a contractor does strategic marketing, and does it well, that contractor gets far more quality leads than the business needs.  If you have more leads than you need you can typically afford to take the risk of raising your prices because you can afford some “no’s” when you have plenty more leads to pursue. And, if you have professional sales skills the risk isn't as great.


So, here’s my advice if you have been selling on price

  • If you are close to retirement, say less than 3 or 4 years to go, don’t bother.  The investment needed to fix your problem will require both a lot of money and time.  Any marketing strategy can take at least 6-9 months before you will see quality and sustainable results.  And that’s if you do it right.  If you try to do it yourself through trial and error it could take much longer or might never make enough of a difference before you are ready to retire.
  • email marketing for contractorsIf you plan to remain a small company, only worried about generating enough work for yourself and maybe one other worker, I suggest you work really hard creating and nurturing referrals.   This is a good low cost option but it does take a lot of your time.  You’ll need to spend time calling your previous customers to let them know you’re still around and would love to get more work from them.  I suggest you also let them know you would appreciate their referrals.  While you have them on the phone get their email addresses and permission to send them information about your company via email.   If you can do this you can take advantage of low cost email marketing strategies to stay in front of them and remind them about referring you.  If this works for you and you get enough quality leads, you will also need improved sales skills so you can raise your prices and still sell enough work.   If you can pull off selling at higher prices use the money to expand your marketing strategy beyond the email related tactics.
  • Marketing for contractorsIf you have a business that is already doing at least $500-700K worth of business, but you are not making enough money, I suggest you find a coach and or a mentor who can help you.   For a business of that size you really need the help of a pro who can help you strategize what to do before you do it.  My experience working with contractors in this position is that there is typically much more to fix than the marketing and sales functions of the business.  The most common challenges I see with these businesses is a lack of understanding of the costs of being in business and how to properly price projects so they include the money needed to pay for things like marketing and sales training.  Sure, it will cost money to hire that person.  However, if you hire the right person to help you he or she can really speed up the process and help you control the cost of doing it.  The right person will also be able to refer you to other resources you need will to make the changes.   On the other hand, if you try to do it all on your own, you might just end up right where you already are.

Why contractors sell on price


  • My last suggestion is for those contractors who won’t do any more marketing and won’t improve their sales skills.   If this describes you and your business I suggest you consider the option of getting out of the game before it’s too late.   As the economy improves savvy and committed business owners will be doing what it takes to beat out and even eliminate their competition for the high margin customers and projects.  If that happens in your market you will need to stay selling on low price.  My experience working with contractors in this mindset has shown that these contractors often live from check Job opportunities for carpentersto check and most will never be able to retire.  I suggest you consider the option of a job at a company that already does good marketing and knows how to sell.  These businesses will be growing as the economy improves and will need the talents of good carpenters and project managers.  If you find the right company to work for you will probably make a lot more money, have a whole lot less stress in your life and your new job might even include a company sponsored retirement plan. 

Some final thoughts
If the survival of your business has been a constant battle and or struggle for you, deciding to proactivily change what you do, rather than waiting to see if your business can make it or not, might just be the best option for you and those you care about.  Changing what you do can include working on your business or seeking a job opportunity.   Either option is a good one, you get to decide.


Related article:

11 Common Traits of People Who Buy Remodeling On Price


Topics: Success Strategies, Sales Considerations, Retirement Planning, Marketing, Lead Generation, Marketing Considerations

Finding a Good Website Designer for Your Contractor Website

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, May 21,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Finding a Good Web Site Designer for Your Contractor Web Site

Website designer for contractors


As a contractor you need to think of your website as a tool.  No contractor would buy a tool before verifying it would do the job intended.  And, if that tool didn’t perform as sold I’m sure you would want to return it.  You can typically return a tool if it’s not working, but you can't return a web site - ever!  

When I was ready to have a web site for my contractor coaching and contractor training business I didn’t just want a tool that listed what I could do.  I could have easily done that with a basic static web site for far less money.  Instead, I wanted a tool that would help my target contractor coaching prospects find me and figure out whether or not they wanted to work with me or not.  I was looking for a way to differentiate myself and my approach from other contractor coaches and trainers.  What I was looking for was an advanced marketing tool, not just a web site.  


Seek referrals before you choose a website designer

website mind mapIn my quest for a web site company to work with I was specifically referred to the one I chose by another business owner I know who had similar goals for his business.  This web site design company owner did what I thought was a great job interviewing me to uncover my purposes before she designed, priced and built my site.  Now, because of her assistance, I can help targeted prospects find me and prevent suspects from wasting my time and resources!  And, if contractors seeking help with their businesses aren’t yet ready to buy, I can nurture them along with more information about me and my business until they are. 


Don’t waste time or money on a bad web site or a bad web site designer

You and your business may not be looking for the same prospects as my business, but I bet you have the same desire to have a web site that will help you find and prequalify the right prospects for your business.  Done right, after the original investment of working with a web site designer, your contractor website can be a very effective and low cost way to attract the right clients for your business.  But if you choose the wrong designer or choose one based on price alone, you will have wasted a lot of time and money.  Even worse, your target customers won’t be able to find you on search engines and you will remain a commodity selling yourself and your service on price.

SEO for contractors wr

I hope you found this article helpful.  You might also like my list of red flags to watch out for when selecting your web site designer. 

If you want help planning the purpose and function of your web site, or help with selecting a web site designer, send me an email me now.  I’d be happy to discuss what you want and or need so you can do your first website right the first time.


More articles about creating a contractor website:

Seven Ways Contractors Can Prequalify a Good Web Site Designer

Hate Contractor Lead Generation Services? Why Not Get Some Chickens!

On Your Contractor Web Site, Qualify, Don’t Disqualify Your Prospects

If You Don’t Or Won’t Offer Generation Y Prospects What They Want They Will Go Away


Topics: Success Strategies, Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Marketing Ideas, Web Site Related, Lead Generation, Marketing Considerations, Prequalifying

Seven Ways Contractors Can Prequalify a Good Web Site Designer

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, May 12,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Seven Ways Contractors Can Prequalify a Good Web Site Designer

Contractor website designer

Having and working on my web site has been a very rewarding and educational experience.  Because the web site company I worked with helped me design the function as well as the appearance of my site it quickly became the primary source of new business for me and my company.  Because they helped me select my hosting service and my content management system (CMS), and because they trained me on how to use my CMS, I can create pages, edit my content and even optimize my site for SEO on my own without needing them to do it for me.  When I want to add a new function to my site they are there to help me do so and will also teach me how to use and maintain the new function.



Website designer for a contractorAll this leads to my ability to help my targeted customer types find me and find out what it will be like to work with me as their coach or mentor before they contact me about my services.  The experience of getting  my own web site up, learning about using it as a marketing tool and the success I have had using it as a tool  has also given me the ability to help my contractor coaching clients get on the right path with their own web sites!


Do you have the right web site and web site designer?

choosing a web site designerIf your business doesn’t yet have a web site, or the one you have isn’t helping your target customers find you like mine helps me, don’t make the mistake of working with the wrong web site designer.  Here are a few “red flags” to watch for as you either work with your current designer or as you interview one to work with.

  1. Never work with a designer who doesn’t offer a CMS or requires that he or she be the only one who can add to or edit your web site.
  2. Never work with a designer unless their offering includes a way to measure your web site efforts and results (analytics) and you have access to those analytics on demand.
  3. If they don’t ask you about and include any calls to action and landing pages, you will probably end up with an on-line brochure that won’t generate quality leads.
  4. If the price seems too good to be true, don’t work with them.  Either they don’t know what they are doing, will only be creating an “on-line brochure” or they will get you on “extras” after you’re stuck working with them.
  5. Contractor web site helpIf they offer to help you with SEO, but never ask you who your target customers, job types and market area are you may get visits to your site but you will probably never be able to covert those visits into paying customers.
  6. If they don’t insist you include a blog they probably don’t understand SEO for contractors.  Also, make sure the blog is part of your site, not linked to another site or service.
  7. Never work with a designer who wants to own your URL (web site address).

I hope you found this article helpful.  Please use the comments area below to share your own good experiences and or your own “red flags”.  If you want help planning the purpose and function of your web site, or help with selecting a web site designer, send me an email me now.


Other related articles and information about websites for contractors

Hate Contractor Lead Generation Services?  "Rather than buy all your eggs, why not get some chickens?"

On Your Contractor Web Site, Qualify, Don’t Disqualify Your Prospects

If You Won’t Offer Gen Y Prospects What They Want They Will Go Away



Topics: Marketing Ideas, Web Site Related, Lead Generation, Marketing Considerations

On Your Contractor Web Site, Qualify, Don’t Disqualify Your Prospects

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Mar 14,2013 @ 06:00 AM

On Your Contractor Web Site, Qualify, Don’t Disqualify Your Prospects

Prequalify prospects using your web site


When you write or have others write content for the pages of your web site and your blog, make sure what you write doesn’t offend visitors or make them feel dumb.  (Unless of course that is your plan!)  Recognizing this potential challenge can make the difference between purposely qualifying your web site visitors and making them feel disqualified.  Let me explain.


Help visitors prequalify themselves

One important and valuable way to use your web site is to help visitors prequalify themselves.  By this I mean let them use the content you post as a way to determine whether there is a good fit between what they are looking for and what your business offers.   Think beyond just products and project types.   What is probably more important, to both you and them, should be how you do what you do and how your business operates.   For example, if you charge for design and or estimates, let them know that.   If you don’t leave your proposal behind unless they sign it and give you a check, let them know that too.   Using the two examples, the point is if they want free design and your proposal, to use one or both as bidding tools, they won’t be contacting you.  Instead, they will move on to another contractor who will. 

Now, just because you tell them how you do business doesn’t mean they will be motivated to do business with you.   So, share with them why, what and how you do what you do could have a value to them.  

Never assume they know, tell stories

prequalify leads using web siteIf they have already experienced what you offer, either from already working with you or from working with another contractor, they might already know the benefit(s).   The thing to keep in mind when you are writing is that you won’t know what they know and what they don’t.  We all know what happens when we assume.   So, don’t just tell them about what you do, tell them stories about how others you have served have benefited already so they can image themselves benefiting in the same way.  If they don’t see enough value to justify contacting you, again, they will move on.  That is how you can qualify them, through what you write, but make them feel like they have qualified you.

On the other hand how you tell your story might just make them feel you have disqualified them.  Do that and they won’t be doing business with you.  Here are a couple of examples of how the way you write your web site content might make them feel disqualified and how to avoid them:

  • You talk too much about who you don’t do business with and why.   Sure this may help the people you are describing go away, but it might also make good prospects go away because they find you too negative or judgmental.  Instead, keep it positive and describe the people you want to do business with.  
  • You offer your own opinions as to why people who look at or see things differently than you are wrong headed.  Forget about making judgment.  Stick to offering positive reasons for your opinions and your way of doing business.  And if possible, share what your past customers have said to back up your reasoning.
  • You use technical language and or industry buzz words that consumers have never heard before and or they don’t know what they mean.  If you do this they may feel dumb, or assume that interacting with you will be over their head.  To avoid these potential challenges skip the buzz words or offer links to definitions they can understand.  

Catch and release prospectsCatch and release prospects?

Keep in mind that visitors to your site might not yet be ready to buy remodeling or construction services.  If they are in their research or discovery stage they will be looking for good information and a good contractor to eventually work with.  Make sure what they find and read on your site helps them in their research and at the same time gives them a good impression of what it would be like working with your company.  If they disqualify themselves from calling you, make sure they feel good about it.  They may come back to nibble on your bait again some day!


Topics: Sales Considerations, Marketing Ideas, Web Site Related, Marketing Considerations

How Contractors Can Make More Money, Faster and By Doing Less

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Mar 03,2013 @ 06:00 AM

How Contractors Can Make More Money, Faster and By Doing Less

Making more money as a Contractor


With only so much time in a day, contractors need to maximize the revenue and or gross profit they earn each day in order to cover business overhead costs and contribute to their desired net profit goals.   Selling and producing more work is certainly one option to consider.  However, why not implement ways to increase the selling price and earn more gross profit without having to do any more work in the field or add anymore labor costs at the job site.


Options to consider

If you want to increase your sales volume and earned gross profit you can either produce more work or increase the selling price of your projects.  Here are a few things to consider:

  • Producing more work at the job site means you will need more labor and the project will take longer.  Finding and keeping more employees busy can be challenging.    
  • Increasing your selling price doesn’t have to be limited to raising the prices of what you sell.  Increasing your selling price can also be accomplished by increasing what is included in the selling price.
  • Assuming you mark up everything you sell, if you find the right prospects and sell them higher price point products than you have used in the past, your average sell price goes up and the gross profit earned on each job goes up as well, without adding more labor or days to the project schedule.
  • Also, consider that selling product options can be another way of increasing the sell price and earned gross profit, again without having to add any more time, do any more work or add any more labor to get the work done.


Here’s one example of what I am talking about 

CSL CEU trainer Shawn McCaddenAt a recent Remodeler Summit event I participated in for Marvin Windows and Doors at their Warroad MN manufacturing facility, contractors learned about Marvin’s new option of prefinishing the interiors of their window and door products.   By selling this option to their customers, contractors can increase the cost of each window they sell by offering an additional service to their customers.  And, they can do so without increasing the production time of a window project and without having to add any additional on site labor to their projects.   The windows are prefinished at the factory, under controlled conditions and can either be prepainted or have a clear finish applied.   Because the prefinishing is done off site, all the mess of prepping and finishing is avoided, no extra job labor is needed and the smell of any finishing products is avoided at the job site.  Selling prefinished construction products can be a win-win, both of the contractor as well as the homeowner.  Selling prefinished products means more gross profit earned for the contractor without doing any more work.  The home owner benefits because more work is done in less time, with less mess and disturbance to their home and their daily lives.


Marvin Windows Inswing French Doors PIF french door Marvin Windows Ultimate Sliding French Doors Clear


Here’s one more example

how contractors can make more moneyAt a tour of Reliable Truss and Components Inc., a division of National Lumber in Mansfield MA, I found out they offer prefabricated custom structures and components.  Using this service contractors can have components of their projects prebuilt and even prefinished in a controlled factory environment.  The components are then delivered to the contractor’s job site ready to install.   Partnering with a vendor who can offer this type of service helps the contractor earn more money by doing less work in several ways.  

  • The contractor can earn gross profit on the labor as well as the product being provided by the vendor.
  • At the same time, the contractor can be earning gross profit on the labor and the products being installed by his own crews while they get the project ready for installation of what is being built off site.
  • Some vendors, including Reliable Truss, will also come prepared with the equipment needed and help your crew install the prefabricated and prefinished items at the jobsite.


 	 lack of skilled construction labor


It just keeps getting better!

Making more money as a remodelerBoth examples above can help contractors earn more money in less time.   Both examples offer ways contractors can get more work done without having to add any additional talents or skills to their crews.  Both examples also eliminate or reduce the need to find and bring in sub contractors to do work the contractor’s own crews either don’t have the talents for or might not be cost effective at doing.

I bet more and more contractors will be thinking this way as the increasing costs of labor and the lack of available skilled labor puts pressures on their businesses and their profits.


Topics: Labor Costs, Success Strategies, Sales Considerations, Differentiating your Business, Financial Related Topics, Earning More Money, Production Considerations, Marketing Considerations, Keeping More Money, Shawn's Predictions

Checklist for Contractors Offering Snow Removal Services.

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Feb 08,2013 @ 09:17 AM

Checklist of Consideration for Contractors Offering Snow Removal Services.

Making money doing Snow removal


When winter snows and ice dams hit many contractors see offering snow and ice dam removal as an opportunity to make money.   If you’re considering snow removal as an opportunity for your business thinking ahead about how and where you offer it, as well as how you will perform the work, can help protect your business from inherent risks.  Thinking ahead about your approach can even help you drum up additional work after the snow has disappeared.

Offering snow removal services makes sense for many contractors 

After all, if work is slow during winter months, snow removal can bring in extra revenue.   Also, many projects come to a halt when the weather makes working outside impractical or makes going in and out of a building while working on interior renovations dangerous and messy.   If you price it correctly, offering snow removal and ice dam removal can help keep employees working and help contribute gross profit to cover business overhead.

How the snow removal checklist list came about

Offering Snow and ice removal servicesSeveral years ago I helped one of my remodeler coaching clients plan out how to offer and perform snow removal services.   He called me because he realized there were a lot of things he should consider before just sending his guys out with there with shovels and axes.  Below is a list of considerations from my coaching session notes created during my discussions with him.   By sharing my notes my hope is that you will find them helpful, you will price the work for profit, you and your employees will be safer while performing the work, you can use the opportunity to create new customers and you will generate future work from those that hire you.


Checklist of Snow Removal Services Considerations for Contractors:

  • Suggested he consider the work is labor intensive, he will not be earning his typical gross profit on subs or materials, be sure to price hourly rates accordingly.
  • Agreed on $300 first hour with two men, $80/hr per additional man hour.
  • 4 men doing it currently.  Full employees with Workers Compensation (WC) coverage. 
  • Charging for snow removalDiscussed properly equipping his employees to avoid risk and health problems. Confirmed he has fall protection equipment needed to meet OSHA requirements and employees know how to use it.  Should try to do as much of the work as they can from the ground.
  • Confirmed that he knows which WC classification workers will be in while doing the work and what rate he will be charged on all related payroll.
  • Discussed a variety of ways to do the work to limit residual damages.
  • Discussed setting realistic expectation with clients before doing the work. Agreed that only using a verbal agreement about services would not be acceptable.
  • Help home owners understand nature of the work, let them know that damages will happen and that he cannot guarantee preventing leaks or any possible damages inside or outside.
  • Suggested he have an agreement; created and or reviewed by legal counsel.
  • Suggested he disclaim in the agreement any water damage prevention and or remediation responsibilities.
  • Target market area Look at the work as a good way to meet new clients.  Because there might be more demand than he can service, be selective about who he will work for, make sure they fit within his target customer/location niche.
  • Suggested he make follow up calls to verify home owners are all set and happy, ask if they should come back if it keeps snowing.
  • Collect contact info including e-mail addresses so he can re-market for future work.
  • If he uses any subs make sure they are properly insured and follow OSHA requirements.  Make sure subs know not to attempt to solicit or accept any work from his customers.
  • Keep emergency contact info on site and or in each vehicle.
  • Suggest he ask about future work, both snow related and remodeling.
  • Could create a checklist of things to ask or tell customers related to the work and future work; what his company does.  Said he has already created a simple sheet listing other work they do.
  • Suggested he should be prepared regarding how to differentiate his business from other businesses offering the work. Discussed one way is to offer all clients an insurance certificate that lists the home owner as an additional insured, sent direct to the client from his insurance agent before work starts.  Verify his agent is prepared and capable to do so.
  • Suggested considering doing a YouTube video commercial about the service and put it on his website ASAP.
  • selling Ice dam removal servicesDiscourage use of Red Bull, maybe even coffee. Suggested hot chocolate and donuts.
  • Suggested refrigerator magnets would be a good leave behind.  Also consider 5-5-10 door hanger package we had discussed on a previous call about jobsite marketing.
  • Asked him what his top three takeaways from our discussion were:
  1. Caution regarding liabilities, set expectations with clients in writing.
  2. Realizes the marketing opportunity, concentrate on working for his target customer.
  3. Keep an eye on the big picture to avoid liabilities and not miss an opportunity by being blinded by a just getting the work done mentality.


Topics: Success Strategies, Differentiating your Business, Earning More Money, Marketing Ideas, Mentoring/Coaching, Marketing Considerations, OSHA Considerations, Subcontractor Considerations, Legal Considerations, Prequalifying, Seasonal Opportunities

Understanding and Complying With Home Improvement Contractor Laws

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Feb 05,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Help Understanding and Complying With Home Improvement Contractor Laws

MA HIC videos with Shawn McCaddenMany remodeling contractors may be operating their businesses illegally without even knowing it.  In addition to construction supervisor licensing, most states now have some type of licensing or registration requirements for contractors who offer and or perform home improvement work.  Home improvement contractor licensing and regulations govern how contractors conduct business, not how they build or renovate at the job site.  Fines and penalties for lack of compliance can be substantial, including losing your right to conduct business.  The specific details of home improvement contractor laws and regulations are different from state to state, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re aware of and understand requirements where you work. 


What states have Home Improvement Contractor Licensing requirements?

Click here for an interactive map where you can find out.  You or your remodeling customers can also use the map to check to see if a specific contractor is licensed.


Currently there are about 26,000 Registered Home Improvement Contractors in Massachusetts.

Recently the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation ("OCABR") released a series of five short videos to help Massachusetts home improvement contractors become aware of and learn how to comply with the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Registration law.  The videos are well done and are targeted to help Massachusetts contractors, but a lot of the information shared in the videos could also be very helpful for contractors doing businesses in other states as well.  Each video covers a topic that is regulated in some way or another by any state's home improvement regulations.

Home Improvement Contractor Law videos with Shawn McCadden

At about 17 minutes of total time, it’s worth your time to watch all five videos even if your business is not in Massachusetts.  

The first 45 seconds of each video is an introduction and is just about the same, so after watching the first video in full you can probably skip ahead in the other four.


Basic Rules for Home Improvement Contractors:

Video #1:  Registration


Video #2: Contract Content & Payment Terms


Video #3: Advertising & Estimating


Video #4: Performance of the Contract


Video #5: Arbitration & Enforcement


In addition to being an industry representative in the videos, I was also pleased to be able to offer input on the script.  Before, during and after the filming I worked closely with Steven J. Zuilkowski, Hearing Officer for the Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation.  During the filming I also worked with Jacqueline F. Chandler, HIC Program Coordinator.  Both demonstrated they were genuinely interested in helping contractors comply with the regulations and were seeking input to help ensure the videos served the intended purpose.  Recently Steve shared with me that the OCABR now also has a blog were he has written several posts for contractors regarding help interpreting the HIC regulations, check it out here.

I want to thank Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the OCABR for doing these videos to help contractors.  It was an honor for me to be asked to participate in the project and I had some fun too!


Steven J. Zuilkowski

       Steven J. Zuilkowski

Jacqueline F. Chandler

    Jacqueline F. Chandler


Barbara Anthony

  Barbara Anthony


Topics: Videos, Legal Related, Contracts, Starting a Business, MA HIC Regulations, Sales Considerations, Marketing Considerations, Business Considerations

Understanding and Selling the Many Shades of Green

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Feb 01,2013 @ 12:02 PM

Green Building and Green Products: Understanding and Selling the Many Shades of Green

Selling green remodeling


Contractors and building materials dealers (LBM dealers) have found it challenging figuring out how to tap into the green building opportunity.  Some say the problem is caused by “green washing”.  Without a single and accepted definition of what green building is and what products are or are not green, it’s no wonder they are challenged.  Whether you’re an LBM Dealer, a product distributer, a professional designer or a contractor, it might not really make much difference what you consider to be green.  Before you get all upset at that statement and or with me, please hear me out.


Here’s my rationale

I’m not saying you can’t have your own definition.  What I am saying is if you want to sell green, you better make sure you know how your target customer defines and decides what is green if you want to sell green to them. 

Selling Green ProductsSounds easy right?  Not really. 

Unfortunately, if you ask 10 people what green is, you’ll get at least 10 different answers!  So, how should contractors and LBM dealers (and even their staff) respond to homeowners who ask for green products when these same customers might not even know what they’re looking for?  Solution; You need to know the questions to ask before you risk providing any answers! 


“What is green and what is not is up to the person with the money!”

On February 8, 2013 I’ll be presenting a seminar at the NRLA LBM EXPO in Boston titled Understanding and Selling the Many Shades of Green”One of my goals at this seminar is to help LBM dealers take advantage of the green building and renovation market that is expected to grow significantly as the economy improves.  Another goal is to help them so they can help their contractor customers sell and use more green products. 

Green Remodeling


In addition to discussing how different consumers define green and why, I plan to help them decided which products to sell and how to sell them.  To do so I will be offering and discussing the list of criteria below.  Contractors trying to decide what to sell should also find the list very helpful.  The key to success will be matching some or all of the criteria below to the green motivations of the home owner with the money.



Seven Criteria for Choosing Green Products to Sell

#1: Is the material effective in your conditions/climate?

Green Products for LBM DealersHeat, cold, moisture, insects…

#2: Is the material healthy and safe?

For workers, consumers and the planet

#3: Is the material durable and easily maintained?

Saves time, money, replacement, and disposal costs

#4: Is the material available in your area and can contractors work with it?

Saves time and money

#5: Is the material used efficiently?

Locally sourced, transportation considerations, processing considerations

Efficient use of resources, recycled and/or recyclable

#6: Is the material cost effective?

Now and in the future: maintenance, replacement, comfort, health effects/costs

#7: Is the material aesthetically satisfying to the consumer?

That’s important too!


Topics: LBM Related Topics, Green Considerations, Success Strategies, Sales Considerations, Design Trends, Marketing Considerations