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3 Objections Your Boss May Have About Hiring an Industry Expert

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Feb 06,2014 @ 06:00 AM

We Can't Do That -3 Objections Your Boss May Have About Hiring a Construction or Remodeling Industry Expert

Remodeling Industry Expert

As an employee often times I bet you see challenges and opportunities at the business where you work that you believe your boss doesn't.    It’s not necessarily that you might be smarter than your boss, although that sometimes is the case.  It’s typically because you are involved in the business in a different way than your boss. If you are a Lead Carpenter perhaps that involvement exposes you to the day to day realities in the field while your boss is working on other things.  Or maybe as the production manager you're the one who has to manage the projects and build from the information provided by your boss; but you can't.  You have to constantly call him to get answers and or details. 

Often times I find that employees can be the eyes and ears their bosses are missing in certain areas.  If you are a dedicated and conscientious employee you may want to share what you see and offer solutions to help your boss.   One solution can be to hire a construction industry expert to come in and help right the ship.  This suggestion might probably be a good one.  However, if your boss objects to it, what can you do or say?  

Here are a few suggestions you can consider depending on the objection.


Objection #1: It cost too much.  

Remodeling company improvementsHiring a construction or remodeling industry expert certainly can be expensive.  Depending on the nature of the problems to be addressed the fees can add up quickly.   However, compared to the money lost over time by not correcting or improving things that slow you down or increase project costs, years perhaps, the lost revenue and compromised profitability can far exceed the initial cost to fix the problem.  Perhaps you could help your boss see the cost as an investment.  To do this consider using a simple analogy from your world as an example to help get your intended point across.  Maybe consider using the example of having a table saw.  Sure you could do your job without one, but it sure would go a lot faster and come out a lot better, and at a much lower labor cost, if he made the investment in a good one sooner than later.   And by doing so the labor savings alone would quickly cover the cost of buying the table saw.  


Objection #2: Don't have the money right now, so we would have to wait for a profitable job to pay for it.  

Improving profits at a construction companyIf you hear that objection it may be the truth.  But you know what they say about the definition of insanity.  Depending on your relationship with your boss perhaps you could ask what he has already done or will do different to get that profitable job.  The positive news is that often times the business is actually already in pretty good condition.  I find many construction businesses might only need a few tweaks and or new processes to make significant improvements.  If the expert helps start with low hanging fruit the initial changes can often generate the additional money needed to finance additional changes.


Objection #3: This isn't a good time, we are straight out right now.

Again, this may be completely true.  And again I'm not sure how you would do or say this depending on your boss, so be careful and be respectful.   Come up with a safe way to remind him that it's been pretty much like that every day and all the time for quite a while now since the company started running more than one or two jobs at the same time.  If true, also remind your boss that things were going really well on the jobs when the company only did one or two jobs at a time. Point out that maybe some additional preconstruction activities and or introducing a Lead Carpenter system might be the answer.  To help really make your suggestion practical you could also share your willingness and desire to take on additional responsibility provided you get the right training and tools to do so.


Last thoughts

Hiring a construction business expertMost construction business owners are thoughtful and kind people.  They are also typically very busy and put in a lot of hours to help keep the business going and keep the employees working.  If you see things that your boss doesn't, keep these considerations in mind.   Choose a good time to share your opinions and offer your suggestions.  Most importantly, do it with good intention and respect.  I hope you have a boss who is willing to listen and will hear your suggestions.  

If you give any of these suggestions a try let me know how you made out by posting a comment.  If you’re afraid to say anything I hope you'll share that here as well.  If you're afraid your boss will react negatively to a posted comment, email me your comment and I will post it anonymously for you.


Topics: Success Strategies, Employee Advancement, Business Growth, Mentoring/Coaching, Sage Advice

Why Contractors Should Get A Line Of Credit When They Don’t Need One

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jan 09,2014 @ 08:27 AM

Why Contractors Should Get A Line Of Credit When They Don’t Need One

Melanie Hodgdon, Business Systems Management



Guest Blogger: Melanie Hodgdon is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor who has been providing financial analysis and QuickBooks training for contractors since 1994. She’s the co-author of A Simple Guide to Turning a Profit as a Contractor.  Melanie and Shawn often coordinate their efforts when helping remodelers develop financial systems for their businesses so they serve the contractor, not just their accountant.

Contractor cash flow

A line of credit can be your cash flow insurance

I recently had a conversation with a client who, after an incredibly profitable startup a couple of years ago, encountered a perfect storm of difficulties and recently found himself facing a severe cash flow crunch. This is one of those things that happens in any industry, and seems particularly prevalent among construction and remodeling companies

The problem is sort of like health insurance.

Contractor Line of CreditWhen you’re young and in perfect health, it seems stupid to waste money on insurance. There are so many more important (and fun) things to buy: trucks, tools, additional personnel; the list is endless. I remember when I fell off my roof, my life didn’t flash before my eyes, but I did have a very clear sequence of thoughts.

  1. I hope the cat isn’t lying where I’m going to land (he wasn’t)
  2. This is SO going to hurt (it did)
  3. I really, really wish I had insurance (I didn’t)


Back to the cash flow issue.

The point is that when everything is going great and you have oodles of cash, it seems stupid to waste time setting up a line of credit. However, that’s exactly when you should apply: when you don’t need it.

Once you need a line of credit (or, more accurately, once you admit to yourself that you need it), the chances are pretty good that your Balance Sheet will look pretty bad, and it’s your Balance Sheet that creditors want to look at.

Working with your lender

Getting a line of credit as a contractor


Your bank is actually less interested in your income or even your profit figures; what matters is the extent to which you’re able to pay off debt, and the degree to which your company is running on credit. We’ll look at the critical numbers in a follow-up blog. In the meantime, one of the things that saved my client from being turned down by the bank was that he had an excellent relationship with the bank staff, who went to bat for him. While things were going well, he’d made a point of sharing his successes with key personnel. They knew he was a hard worker with a solid business plan and a track record of success, and this personal knowledge allowed them to see past the current bad-looking financials.


Here is a summary of steps to help contractors secure a line of credit

  1. Contractor balance sheetLearn more about your Balance Sheet, the often under-utilized and misunderstood financial report that can spell success or failure
  2. Make a point of getting to know your bank personnel, particularly your loan officers; this can up your chances of approval by lifting you from anonymity
  3. Apply and get approval for a line of credit when your books look good, when you have plenty of cash, you’ve paid down debt, and you don’t need credit




Topics: Business Financials, Success Strategies, Financial Related Topics, Cash Flow, Guest Blogs

Tips For Contractors On Ball Park Pricing and Charging For Estimates

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Dec 17,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Tips For Contractors On Ball Park Pricing and Charging For Estimates

Ball Park Pricing



Any contractor who has been in business for any length of time has probably had to deal with Ball Park pricing and charging for estimates.  Home owners always seem to want one but not the other.  Rather than risk letting a Ball Park price make them look bad, savvy contractors can use the request for one to help cause the other to happen.  If interested in how to do this, read on.



Let’s start with Ball Park Pricing

Ball Park Pricing of Remodeling projectsHow many times in your career has a homeowners asked you for a “Ball Park” price for their project.   And, how many times did your Ball Park price end up being nowhere close to the actual price of the project? 

I find the whole idea of Ball Park pricing comical. I’m not saying it doesn’t have value in some selling scenarios.  I am saying however that when contractors offer a Ball Park price more times than not they strike out rather than hit a home run.

So, when I was selling remodeling and a prospect asked me for a ball park number, I would respond by asking them which ball park they preferred; Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium. That usually stopped them right there in their tracks and helped them think about what they just asked for.  And, by asking that question, I was able to get them into a much more meaningful conversation about their project.  Let’s face it; a "ball park number" really doesn't have much value unless there are some specifications to help give it any relevance.

Try asking them about which Ball Park they are looking for.  Feel free to substitute the parks you use. I think you will find doing so to be a great conversation starter. 


Then there’s the whole idea about charging for estimates

As contractors we know estimates are not free.  Somehow the cost of creating an estimate must be recouped by the contractor. 

Some contractors may say they don’t charge for estimating.  If that is true they are working for free and the cost of estimating is not included in the price quoted to the prospect.  I don’t know about you, but in my opinion if you do estimates for free you are undervaluing your worth and might also be putting your professionalism in doubt.  If you are not charging for estimates, and you also are not accumulating enough money to someday retire, working for free might be a good part of why.  And, contractors who do so are making things challenging for those who do charge by helping consumers think they should get estimates for free. 

On the other hand many contractors who tell their prospects they do not charge for estimates are actually not charging for the estimate in advance, they recoup the cost of estimating through their markup; but only if they sell the job.  


It’s OK if they don't want to pay, but why get offended? 

How to charge for estimatesSo why do prospects get offended when you tell them you charge for estimates?  Did they expect you to work for free?   Do they work for free at their jobs?  I doubt it. 

When I was selling remodeling and homeowners asked if I would do free estimates I would say yes and give them an estimate right then and there.  I would say something like “I estimate the bathroom project will cost somewhere between $15 and 25, 000”.   Then I would just wait.   When they asked why such a big range I would simply ask them why they thought I had to give such a big range.  It usually led to meaningful conversations about the fact that an estimate is really just a guess and may not have any relevance to the true cost of what they would actually want to buy.  And, as a result, having this conversation helped them discover the need for plans and or specification so I could give them a fixed price in place of the “estimate”. 

After all, that’s what most remodeling consumers really want; a fixed price for what they actually want. 


One option you can try if the Home Owner can’t understand why you charge for estimates

Next time a homeowner wants a free estimate, or is upset about charging for one, why not suggest bartering?

"If I spend the time to collect all the info about your project, seek pricing from my vendors, meet with my subs to get accurate pricing for their work, and then assemble an accurate cost and proposal; how about we do a trade? Maybe while I'm doing that stuff you could either babysit my kids or cut my lawn? What to do think Mr. Home Owner, would that be a fair trade?"


Getting paid for estimatesA point of clarification which should already be obvious

If you choose to go down the “Which Ball Park” or “Let’s barter” path make sure you do it in a respectful manner and your purpose for using this analogy is appreciated by your prospect. 

How you say it can make the difference between being the contractor of choice and being shown the door!



Need help with estimating? 

Checkout this Estimating Workshop for Contractors


Topics: Estimating, Success Strategies, Differentiating your Business, Prequalifying, Estimating Considerations, Customer Relations, Plans and Specifications

All I Want For Christmas Is A Real Business Management System Software

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sat, Dec 14,2013 @ 06:00 AM

All I Want For Christmas Is A Real Business Management System Software

Christmas present for a contractor


Its Christmas time and I like to get presents.  Being surprised is always nice.  But when you get what you asked for it can be even better.   If Santa is listening here’s my request:

“I wish that someday the residential construction industry will have a true single solution business management software system”

I know some companies claim to have a full or complete system, but I have yet to find one that really does.  Most handle the front or back end of the business, but I have yet to find one where the front end supports the back end.


Santa, please give these specifications to your elves

  • First, the product would be one system, not a bunch of systems and or disparate apps.
  • I’m looking for a system that actually does include everything a remodeling or construction business needs from cradle to grave for each prospect, customer and project. 
  • It needs to be web based so the entire team can have access to it whenever they need to; office and field staff.
  • It would be designed and built by a company that actually understands how a remodeling business should be run, and includes best practices that will be adopted; not adapted by the users.  
  • Business software for contractorsI want to be able to assign tasks and duties to employees, prospects and customers, and I want to be able to track and verify whether things are getting done and done in a timely manner.
  • I want a system that helps me see and know things are under control so I don’t need to always take over control of things.
  • It would include the ability and the requirement to do things like first creating a financial budget.  Then it would use the budget information to calculate and automatically apply the markup the business needs to use to reach its overhead and profit requirements.
  • It would include the ability to create a strategic and measurable marketing strategy including the ability to schedule and assign fulfillment of marketing tactics included in my plan and budget.
  • The system would tell me if the marketing tactics being used are actuality providing the intended ROI. 
  • The system would include a dash board of the key metrics the business needs to keep and eye on to know if things are on track or not;  against the business’ plan for things like budget, marketing goals and sales goals.
  • A system that would help me implement and manage a profit sharing program that is accurate and fair to both the employees and the business.
  • Estimated costs for labor hours added to an estimate will automatically be based on the true burdened labor costs for the business using it, based on that budget that was entered.
  • When time cards are entered into the financial module the actual burdened labor rate of the employee who did the work will be reflected in the job cost reports.
  • Management syatem for remodelersA system that can provide true apples to apples comparison of estimated to actual job costs and estimated to actual overhead costs.
  • One that includes an estimating system that actually generates an accurate materials list I can order with, as well as detailed work orders for employees and subs.
  • One that warns you how much money you will lose, or alternately, how much more volume you need to sell and produce, when sales staff may be tempted to drop the price below what the system says is the recommended selling price.  
  • One that helps make sure my company, my employees and my subs are complying with the RRP Rule and relevant OSHA requirements.
  • It would come with training that goes beyond just how to use the software.  The training I am imagining would include clarity on the “HOW” and the “WHY” the best practices included within the system work and contribute to a successful business.

Santa, If you like my specs so far let me know, I can keep going…


Many may say that I’m dreaming, asking for the impossible...

I disagree. 

I truly believe it can be done if the right company and the right experts work together to make it happen.    

Managment Software for contractors


So Santa, if you really want to make me happy this Christmas please make sure I find the system under the tree on Christmas morning.   If your elves don’t have the skills or knowledge to put it all together have them give me a call.   I’ve got the specifications and best practices part under control.  If you have elves who can design the software and write the code together we could get it done in time for Christmas next year and make a lot of construction business owners very happy!


Feel free to use the comments area below if you want to add to the list.  Only contractors who have been nice though!


This is the first blog article in the "All I want for Christmas" series here at the Design/Builders Blog.

If you would like to contribute a guest blog for the Design/Builders Blog email Shawn with your suggest topic.

Topics: Fun Stuff, Business Management, Success Strategies, Business Planning, Software Related

Reducing And Controlling The Effects Of Construction Allowances

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Sep 27,2013 @ 10:31 AM

Tips For Reducing And Controlling The Effects Of Construction Allowances

Managing construction allowances



If you are building custom homes or doing high end remodeling it is your responsibility to help prospects and clients understand what their project will really cost. Don’t give or let your customers use inadequate budget allowances.


Isn’t it easier for a customer to accept a credit rather than an additional cost?  

Think about it. If a prospect or client has selected a granite counter, how often will that same client choose a $5.00/ft tile backsplash? Why not set the allowances for items not yet selected to a cost consistent with what other clients have spent in the past on similar projects? Applying this strategy will help protect your margin, and could actually increase your margin, assuming that you only credit back any difference in your direct cost.


One sure way to protect your mark-up is to eliminate allowances. However, depending upon the project or client, eliminating all allowances may not always be possible. But, reducing the number of allowances may be.  

Here are some ways contractors can improve results when working with allowances

  • Construction allowance managementTry to get your clients to make their selections during the design phase.
  • Identify what selections must be made and provide the clients with a list. 
  • To help them complete the list make showroom and or vendor suggestions. 
  • To motivate them to get the list done establish the date(s) by which they must complete the list and advise you of their choices.


To start or not to start, that is the question…

Persuade the client that it is in their best interest that you not schedule the start of their project until you know the availability or lead-time of all required products. You can even blame it on company policy. “Based on past experiences, our own and those reported by other contractors and homeowners, we have made it our company policy not to start any project unless we are sure we can complete the project on time, as agreed, with the least amount of disruption for our customers.”


Make that list and work it!

When you assemble the list of allowance items include the related dollar value included for each item and a total cost allowance value for all of the items to be selected. Make sure you include a column where the client can write in their actual selections.  Then, add one more column to the list where the clients will fill out the actual cost of their individual selections and can tally up the total for comparison to your list and total cost. If you’re comfortable doing so, this is the place to include what mark-up will be added on any additional cost over the allowance total.


Sample allowances and selections form

Many builders and remodelers report that creating and using a list often times provides the client with a sort of psychological goal of not exceeding the total allowance. Assuming you have established realistic allowances, clients will usually try to avoid any additional costs and or mark-up cost; spending more on one item only if they can save on another. 


Topics: Margin and Markup, Contracts, Allowances, Success Strategies, Production Considerations, Estimating Considerations, Keeping More Money, Plans and Specifications

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

Benefits Of Helping Lead Carpenters Become Managers

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Sep 17,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Helping Lead Carpenters Become Managers Benefits Them And The Business

Why use lead carpenters


As a construction company moves into a true Lead Carpenter system, managers and lead carpenters may become confused and insecure with the idea that the lead carpenter isn’t always “working” or “productive”; at least in the traditional sense.  Knowing in advance that this can actually happen is a great way of avoiding the confusion and insecurities.  A lead carpenter in training might not necessarily like what’s happening, but being forewarned and understanding that this is a typical side effect helps to relieve the stress and speed up the transition.


Motivating them to make the changes

It’s a fact of human nature for any of us; being required to leave our comfort zone for a new way of doing things creates resistance.  You can defuse that resistance by helping your leads discover the new opportunities this change can bring about for them as well as your business.


For them: A chance to create their own destiny:

lead carpenter system benefitsWith the right manager and company, a good lead carpenter has a huge opportunity for personal and professional growth. Proper training as well as the ability to implement what is learned creates many opportunities for a lead carpenter. As we implemented the system at my remodeling company, our leads discovered that this new role generated a variety of benefits for them. For example; our leads discovered that they could delegate to others those activities that they preferred not to do.  At first this included activities like roofing, insulation and siding. Soon they discovered that if they could find a landscape subcontractor to supply laborers to dig footing holes, they no longer had to dig those holes (provided the cost was within the project’s budget, including the lead’s management time).

For the Lead Carpenter it created a way to control what they did and didn’t do on each project. They also recognized that they had more physical energy left on Friday afternoon. This was an immediate benefit to their social and family lives, but was also a long-term benefit in terms of their careers. Mastering a lead carpenter system certainly can prepare that person for future management roles, or simply allow a carpenter’s body to make it until retirement.

Benefits to the business:

Mastering a lead carpenter system



As a company, we discovered that these personal benefits for our leads had created other residual beneficial effects we had not originally anticipated. This type of delegation quickly became a way of doing business.  As the company grew, the need for more subcontractors grew as well. Soon our leads were finding, qualifying and developing relationships with new subs.  They were also helping us find good carpenters to hire who also wanted to become lead carpenters.  The benefits to the business were many…  


Some of the benefits my company came to realize included:

  1. The ability to grow the business quickly but with control
  2. More sub contractors to choose from, particularly when current subs can’t meet the scheduling requirements of a growing company
  3. Higher volume of production without increasing the number of production employees
  4. Why use a lead carpenter systemFewer risks of losing and replacing in-house production employees
  5. Subs observe your company style and culture, like it, buy into it, and might even consider becoming an employee
  6. Provides a great way to discover and observe potential employees
  7. Might unleash hidden talents in your current employees
  8. Customers will love the efficiency and quality of an organized and talented production team
  9. Customer satisfaction is easier to achieve
  10. Customers want “their lead carpenter” to return for their next project
  11. The business makes more money
  12. The owner and management staff can concentrate their efforts on other pressing issues or new business opportunities



Topics: Success Strategies, Team Building, Lead Carpenter System, Customer Relations, Keeping More Money, Creating Referrals

How Contractors Can Manage Allowances To Protect Profits

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Sep 12,2013 @ 06:00 AM


How Contractors Can Manage Allowances To Protect Profits


Does this sound familiar?

Problems managing construction allowances


During the design of the project the clients insisted that a $5.00 per square foot allowance for  an “in-stock” kitchen backsplash tile was plenty. During construction they picked out a handmade tile from Spain that sells for $22.00 per foot, takes 5 weeks to get and requires significantly more labor to install than you assumed for the self-spacing stock tiles. The project will be ready for the tile work next week; however the clients finally selected and ordered the above mentioned Spanish tile late last week. The clients insist it won’t be a big deal. “You can keep the project moving.  Finish everything except the tile then return when the tile comes in.”


Déjà vu, again?

If the story above sounds familiar, you probably also know the gross profit, scheduling and customer satisfaction implications such a scenario can have on your business. While this provides justification for your mark-up on the direct costs of a project, is it even worth trying to explain all this to your clients? Rather than risk such a conversation, many contractors will simply charge for the difference, eat the mark-up, pay the extra labor cost to the tile sub and hope it never happens again. Surprise, the same problems surface when the clients select the floor coverings!

Problems related to allowances will never go away completely. However, you can implement several strategies to manage their impact and protect your mark-up/margin requirements.


Being proactive is the key

Managing construction allowances to protect profitsProjects are most profitable and clients are happiest when everything happens as originally planned. Any changes to that plan can cause frustration for either party and may reduce your ability to get referrals if the client sees the changes as your fault. Before allowances throw a monkey wrench into your schedule, help prospects discover what will happen if selections are not made on time, or they choose products that will not be available when needed to keep the project moving as planned. Make sure you do this and mutually agree on things before you allow them to become clients!


Examples of proactive discussion topics:

  •  If you are remodeling their kitchen or perhaps the only bathroom in the house, will it be a problem if the project is not completed when originally agreed?
  • Are they willing accept and to pay for the additional costs related to pulling out of the project and then trying to return later?
  • If you do have to leave, how would they feel if you have to finish someone else's project before you return to complete their project?
  • Please feel free to add your own in the comments section below


Just talking about these considerations is not enough.

Manage Allowances To Protect Profits


After having proactive conversation with your prospects document their responsibilities in your agreement and what will or will not happen if they do not follow through.  Without clear consequences, and understanding the impact of those consequences, prospects become customers who assume they are always right!

Looking for more help with estimating and managing allowances? 

Check out the workshop titled: "Estimating, Pricing and Producing Successful Projects". 

Estimating seminar for contractors

The workshop is being offered several times at different locations between now and the end of the year.  Its also approved for 6 MA CSL Continuing Education Credits if you need to renew your MA Construction Supervisor License.


Topics: Managing Allowances, Success Strategies, Customer Relations, Keeping More Money, Plans and Specifications

Sell Naked, Then Put Your Clothes Back On To Get Your Product Samples

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Sep 10,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Sell Naked, Then Put Your Clothes Back On To Get Your Product Samples

Selling naked



I bet the title captured your attention and curiosity.  I’m glad because I think selling naked is an important consideration if remodeling contractors want to (1) differentiate themselves and their businesses from other contractors, (2) be strategic about who they will get referred to in the future and (3) make more money in the process. 

I recently discussed selling naked with a great group of remodelers who were attending an event call a “Remodeler Summit” sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors and held at their Warroad MN Training Center.  During the two days I spent with these remodelers I shared the theory of selling naked and used what they learned about Marvin products and product options to help them take advantage of the three benefits I listed above.  The discussion went over well so I thought I’d share it here on my blog with you.

First some set up and then we’ll discuss 1, 2 and 3

Don’t take me literally and show at up your next sales call without any clothes on.  When I refer to selling naked I am suggesting that you do not take any product samples in with you when you go to a sales appointment.   Rather, before you bring anything in to show your prospect, spend time to find out what your prospect wants, why they want it and what they need to see to confirm you have what they want.  Then, if you have the right sample or information in your vehicle, go get exactly what you have that you feel will serve your prospects’ purposes and desires for why they are remodeling to begin with and try to close the deal.  If you have to get something other than what you brought with you, don’t try to close the deal yet.  Schedule a return visit to do so as soon as possible.


Marvin Remodeler SummitMarvin Windows Remodeler Summit Attendees, August 2013

This strategy is important because prospects only need one reason to say no.   If for example, they want a high performance window product, but you start out showing them a low end product, (or vice versa) they might just shut down right away.  They might be thinking the window sample you brought in is the only one you sell and as a result they may think you will try to convince them to buy something they don’t want.  That’s a reason to say no!


Differentiate yourself and your business from other contractors

Selling naked will definitely make you stand out!  Doing so forces the salesperson to have a thoughtful and meaningful conversation with the prospect. On the other hand most contractors make the false assumption that their prospects only want to save money.  This may be true, but what if they want the new windows to help them save money after they are installed.  That being the case they may want more expensive windows. For example, baby boomers may want windows that will last them through their retirement years without the need to replace them ever again in their lifetime.  Or maybe they want windows that will help them reduce their energy costs for heating and or cooling when they are on a fixed retirement income.  Also, if they haven’t considered the long term benefits of a better window, selling naked helps keep their attention on the discussion you are having instead of the product sample. 

They may not know it yet but you are doing them a favor by selling naked!


Be strategic about who you will get referred to in the future

getting good referals as a contractor

By practicing the art of selling naked you will, over time, start to see a change in who buys from you, and even more importantly, who you get referred to by those who buy from you.   People who buy on value rather than price usually hang around with other people just like them.   Use selling naked to help you find prospects and sell to customers who want solutions rather than low price.  Selling naked can help you find people who value a trusted adviser, people who want someone who can help them buy what they really need, not try to convince them of what they need.  If you do get referred be sure to ask the prospect what the referring party said that motivated them to contact you.  That’s probably a great place to start when you show up naked at their home!


Make more money in the process

When I owned my remodeling business it was always my experience as a salesperson that when prospects really understand their options for solving their problems they spend more money than they originally thought they would.   Armed with good information they stay away from the low cost options.  If, as a contractor, you markup up all your labor and materials by the same markup percentage, then material intensive jobs bring in more gross profit than jobs with a low cost for the required materials.  Selling a more expensive window and or adding options to windows that help make them solutions to the prospect’s purpose in replacing their windows means more money on every job, often without needing any more labor to do so.


Sell Marvin Window options to make more money

Is your prospect buying new windows or a better view?

Topics: Sales, Success Strategies, Creating Referrals

Manufacturer, Dealers Partner To Offer Free Education for Contractors

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Sep 05,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Manufacturer, Dealers Partner With Trade Association to Offer Free Education for Contractors

Contractor education


All serious construction business owners have at least two things in common.  First, continuing education is key to improving their businesses.  Because the business world is constantly changing, to remain successful, construction business owners need to keep up with new ways of doing things as well as advancing their business systems and management skills if they want to stay ahead of their competition.   Second, they need to make sure they surround themselves with the right resources so they can get the education they need from reliable sources at an affordable price.


This fall contractors will be able to get both in the same place thanks to window and door manufacturer Andersen® Windows.   Thanks to the efforts of Dealer Account Representative Don Hamel, Andersen® Windows has pulled together a series of five FREE Contractor Educational Boot Camps that will be held at the Rhode Island Builders Association (RIBA) offices in East Providence RI.   I will be the presenter at each of these events.  In addition to the support from RIBA and Andersen Windows several lumber and building materials dealers and product manufacturers have joined together to sponsor these events.


The five boot camps will include the following dates and topics:

Andersen Boot Camps9/26/13: Marketing Boot Camp: Targeting the Right Customers

10/3/13: Estimating Workshop: Know What You’re Selling Before You Sell It.

10/10/13: Small Business Finances and Profit Strategies for Non-Accounts

11/7/13: Sales Workshop-Smart Selling for Tough Times

11/14/13: Production Workshop-You Sold It Now You Need to Build It


Why these topics?

The list of topics above was put together to help give contractors a comprehensive exposure to several important areas in their businesses.  The content of these sessions will include valuable and timely information that will help contractors differentiate themselves in the marketplace and make more money.  Also, each of these sessions has been approved for two continuing education credit hours towards renewal of a Massachusetts Construction Supervisor's License (CSL).   If you are a licensed Massachusetts contractor make sure you let RIBA know you want a certificate of completion for CSL credits when you register.

RIBA Seminar for contractors with Shawn McCadden 

Who is sponsoring these events?

Here are all the logos of the businesses that are sponsoring these events.  You can click on the logos to go to the web pages for each of these businesses.

 Andersen Windows Boot Camp

 Brought To You By

Rhode Island Builders Association seminar

Riverhead Building Supply Contractor seminar  National Lumber seminar Douglas Lumber contractor seminar 
 Reliable Truss and Components  James Hardie Siding Products  Tyvek Parksite
 United Building Supply contractor seminar  LP SmartSide contractor seminar Coventry Lumber Contractor seminar


Don't miss out, register now!

If you would like to attend one or all of these boot camps you need to register for them individually.   Seating will be limited; so make sure you register right away.  Click on the links above for the class or classes you would like to take to see class descriptions and find the registration links.

I hope I’ll see you there!


Topics: Remodeler Education, Contractor Training, Trade Associations, Success Strategies, Earning More Money, Business Planning