Home Field Advantage

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For Deck America, traditional marketing is simply a prospecting game: gather names, addresses and phone numbers and set up visits to the home.

May 01, 2000

Deck America president Dan Betts likens decks to cars and furniture: They’re luxury items paid for with discretionary dollars. Marketers of decks and other remodeling projects, however, hold a distinct advantage over the high-priced ad campaigns designed to draw consumers into product showrooms, Betts says. Remodelers take the product to their customers.

For Deck America, traditional marketing is simply a prospecting game: gather names, addresses and phone numbers and set up visits to the home. In the home, Betts says, is where the company’s marketing happens. Applying lessons learned from infomercials, Deck America employs a methodical and effective in-home marketing process that the NAHB Research Center holds as a benchmark in customer satisfaction practices. The Research Center awarded Deck America a 2000 National Remodeling Quality Gold Award.

 

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Deck America
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Deck America
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Deck America
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Deck America
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Deck America
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Deck America
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Deck America
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Deck America
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Deck America
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Deck America
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Deck America

PR: How do you target houses for prospecting?

BETTS: We have a three-tier marketing approach. We put brochures on their doorknob. [Then] we knock on doors; we’ll canvass areas [where] we drop brochures.

The third tier is the phone. We do "warm calls." [These are] people who have already expressed an interest in our product, or we’re building in their neighborhood and we want to inform them of that. We’re not trying to force the issue like the typical boiler room telemarketers do. The more you push to set that lead, the more problems you have when the time comes to sell it. That’s why this prospecting view that we take is perfect. We’re not pushing you. But if you are interested, we go to that next step. Then we set an appointment with you.

PR: You say your true marketing takes place in the customer’s house. Explain.

BETTS: If you try to market before you get into the house, then you need the marketing budget of Nike or Dell. The perception that you need sophisticated and expensive marketing campaigns to be a large home improvement company is not true.

I classify our goods as luxury products; they’re not necessities. The people who sell cars, the people who sell furniture; we’re all competing for the consumer’s discretionary income. We, as remodelers, have an advantage over everybody else who sells consumer goods. We can make our marketing presentation in your home, after we’ve warmed up with you, after we’ve sat down and chatted. At that point, we’re understanding what your nee ds are, what your wants are, and now we’re custom-tailoring a presentation that’s going to meet your needs. We are able to get that discretionary income much easier than somebody who has to do it more externally because we’re in the home.

PR: How does the marketing take place?

BETTS: [The sales agent] is going to do a live, infomercial-type presentation. They need to involve the homeowners in their presentation. First, they need to create a vision. We create a vision of decks, and what they’re going to be doing on their decks. The next thing we do is turn that vision into a desire, [then we] turn it into a "want." You move them through the presentation; you show them your wares. And we do that with a lot of pizzazz.

My advice is to be totally prepared for that. Sink as much money as you can into your sales tools. We’ve created miniature decks, full-size samples of different parts and components, presentation books, a photo album. We produced a video just to show people using their deck.

When the sales agent walks in the house, he’s ready to work. He’s going to be there for an hour and a half to four hours. Look at any infomercial. It needs to be exciting, it needs to be entertaining, it needs to break the boredom of whatever’s going on in that house at that time, and you need to become an entertainer. That’s what marketing’s all about. We’re a live, in-person advertisement happening in that house.

But there’s a methodology. And it’s trained.

 

The Numbers Game

Deck America drops thousands of brochures in neighborhoods within its marketing area, following up with doorstep visits and phone calls. Setting the lead - or making a sales appointment - is only the beginning of the marketing plan, though. With volume goals targeted, Deck America backs the numbers up to determine how many sales it needs each day, every day. Dan Betts’ shows how the numbers game works for him:

The Numbers Game

Deck America drops thousands of brochures in neighborhoods within its marketing area, following up with doorstep visits and phone calls. Setting the lead - or making a sales appointment - is only the beginning of the marketing plan, though. With volume goals targeted, Deck America backs the numbers up to determine how many sales it needs each day, every day. Dan Betts’ shows how the numbers game works for him:

The Numbers Game

Deck America drops thousands of brochures in neighborhoods within its marketing area, following up with doorstep visits and phone calls. Setting the lead - or making a sales appointment - is only the beginning of the marketing plan, though. With volume goals targeted, Deck America backs the numbers up to determine how many sales it needs each day, every day. Dan Betts’ shows how the numbers game works for him:

The Numbers Game

Deck America drops thousands of brochures in neighborhoods within its marketing area, following up with doorstep visits and phone calls. Setting the lead - or making a sales appointment - is only the beginning of the marketing plan, though. With volume goals targeted, Deck America backs the numbers up to determine how many sales it needs each day, every day. Dan Betts’ shows how the numbers game works for him:

The Numbers Game

Deck America drops thousands of brochures in neighborhoods within its marketing area, following up with doorstep visits and phone calls. Setting the lead - or making a sales appointment - is only the beginning of the marketing plan, though. With volume goals targeted, Deck America backs the numbers up to determine how many sales it needs each day, every day. Dan Betts’ shows how the numbers game works for him:

The Numbers Game

Deck America drops thousands of brochures in neighborhoods within its marketing area, following up with doorstep visits and phone calls. Setting the lead - or making a sales appointment - is only the beginning of the marketing plan, though. With volume goals targeted, Deck America backs the numbers up to determine how many sales it needs each day, every day. Dan Betts’ shows how the numbers game works for him:

The Numbers Game

Deck America drops thousands of brochures in neighborhoods within its marketing area, following up with doorstep visits and phone calls. Setting the lead - or making a sales appointment - is only the beginning of the marketing plan, though. With volume goals targeted, Deck America backs the numbers up to determine how many sales it needs each day, every day. Dan Betts’ shows how the numbers game works for him:

The Numbers Game

Deck America drops thousands of brochures in neighborhoods within its marketing area, following up with doorstep visits and phone calls. Setting the lead - or making a sales appointment - is only the beginning of the marketing plan, though. With volume goals targeted, Deck America backs the numbers up to determine how many sales it needs each day, every day. Dan Betts’ shows how the numbers game works for him:

The Numbers Game

Deck America drops thousands of brochures in neighborhoods within its marketing area, following up with doorstep visits and phone calls. Setting the lead - or making a sales appointment - is only the beginning of the marketing plan, though. With volume goals targeted, Deck America backs the numbers up to determine how many sales it needs each day, every day. Dan Betts’ shows how the numbers game works for him:

PR: What is the marketing presentation?

BETTS: We use a double sales approach. There are two agents in a presentation: a presenter [and a] manager. [Managers are] W2 employees, and they’re the boss. They’re controlling the process, making sure the right things are being said and done in the home, and that the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction is going to happen.

The reason that’s important is, this becomes an infomercial. [Presenters] can get pretty excited, and you have the tendency to elaborate a little bit too much. Those tendencies hurt you rather than help you, so a manager keeps that in check.

That also increases your closing percentage. The ability for two people to do and say the right things in the home is much greater than one person. If one misses something, the other can pick it up.

PR: What are the procedures for the in-home presentation?

BETTS: There are 14 steps: On time, appearance, warm up, layering, measuring, presentation, proof sources, mini-deck, price qualify, trial closes, value selling, price presentation, closing, button up. We go through this and, hopefully, write an order in the end.

There is one disadvantage that we have in the remodeling industry. We have the major advantage that we do this in the home. But when we leave, after we write the contract, we leave you with nothing. You don’t have the product. We have to deliver it and install it. That’s the delivery system.

You’re not going to build a sales force if you can’t deliver and install your product. You have to be really good at delivering and installing your products, because now, everything that happened in that house has to be delivered.

That is the key ingredient in a home improvement company, the delivery system. If you already have that worked out as a remodeler, you need to go right into what we’re talking about. Although the sales process has a lot of methodology in it, it can be done a lot easier than delivering and installing a product. That’s the tough part in this business.

PR: How do you measure the success of the marketing system?

BETTS: What the numbers don’t tell you is what you’re doing wrong. We follow up every non-sold deal and talk directly with the consumer. It’s not a call to try and regain their interest, it’s a follow up call done by a salaried employee to check the quality of what happened in that home.

We have a standard survey. If they have a problem, the consumer will tell us at that point in time. Our quality service representatives also follow up on installations and other functions.

PR: Your close ratios are substantially higher than industry averages. How did you attain that?

BETTS: The methodologies and procedures that we follow produce the predictable result. You have to get people to do these things, and you do that through extensive training. We’re training all the time. The other half is motivating people to consistently do these things. We can’t motivate anybody to do anything. Motivation has to come from within. By them hitting higher levels of achievement, of production, that becomes the motivating force. If you do something real well, you’re better at that. If you don’t do something real well, you don’t like to do that. If you’re doing well, then you’re more motivated to do that.

PR: Could you use these systems for other remodeling projects?

BETTS: [That] is actually kind of dangerous, because you’re adding another product line. The methodologies and systems can be overlaid over another product line, but the product knowledge is totally different. A lot of the resources are totally different, too. You wouldn’t want the same employee installing a kitchen and a deck.

If you’re dealing with a single product line, a lot of this is doable. If you’re dealing with multiple product lines, it’s very difficult to gain the product knowledge and have the independent resources to pull it off.

PR: If you’re a full-line remodeler, you could use the 14 steps. You’d just have a different set of materials.

BETTS: That’s right, but it would be expensive. If I were a room addition builder, no kidding, I would bring in a model of a room addition. I would romance, I would create that desire and turn it into a want. A lot of suppliers will supply you with samples, but in a lot of cases that’s not good enough. Here you have a cabinet door front. Sorry, but that’s not going to excite me a whole bunch if you’re trying to sell me the dream of a kitchen. Possibly a video, there are a lot of ways to create the vision.

Spend the money to put it together, because that’s where you’ll get your payoff. The rest is just prospecting.

The perception that you need sophisticated and expensive marketing campaigns to be a large home improvement company is not true.

We, as remodelers, have an advantage over everybody else who sells consumer goods. We can make our marketing presentation in their home.

That’s what marketing’s all about. We’re a live, in-person advertisement happening in that house.

The more you push to set that lead, the more problems you have when the time comes to sell it.

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