Pull no punches

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When Professional Remodeler’s editorial advisory board met at The Remodelers’ Show in October, one of our major discussion topics was the magazine’s redesign. One member of the team commented that he liked our original logo best because the word...

February 01, 2002

 

Kim Sweet

When Professional Remodeler’s editorial advisory board met at The Remodelers’ Show in October, one of our major discussion topics was the magazine’s redesign. One member of the team commented that he liked our original logo best because the word Remodeler was so prominent. I saw his point, but I told him I prefer our current one because it gives equal visual weight to Professional and Remodeler.

The concept of the remodeler as responsible businessperson is an obvious message to convey within the industry, but the industry is still having a hard time getting that message to the marketplace.

That in mind, I keep my eyes and ears open for marketing ideas that work on a grander scale than a beautifully designed ad or an easy-to-navigate Web site, even one with 3-D project tours. It starts with the strategic planning. The marketing ideas in this issue aren’t new; what makes them work is the amount of foresight and preparation put into them. And the twist is marketing not just the company’s work and professionalism, but the quality of its character.

It’s one more factor that helps to make good remodelers’ prices — undoubtedly higher than those of “Joe and his pickup truck” — more palatable. I am willing to pay more for my new long-distance phone service than I did for my old one primarily because it donates 1% of the charges to nonprofit organizations chosen by its customers. It makes me feel better about having to deal with a phone company at all.

Entering a parade of homes isn’t that unusual, even if most of the homes in the parade are new. Neither is doing charity work in the community. But by combining the two ideas into one project, Associates in Building & Design Ltd. in Fort Collins, Colo., directly communicated in a high-profile way not only how ABD works with building materials but how it works with people and what its values are. While the company’s volume hasn’t increased since its first such project, in 1998, the number and quality of its leads have, improving sustainability. Owners Rita and Bob Peterson have been able to add staff and remove themselves further from daily operations.

Readers ask me all the time why more stories like ABD’s — a remodeling firm’s giving $10,000 to benefit homeless teenagers — don’t make it into the consumer press but the horror stories about contractors do. For one thing, it’s because a lot of remodelers believe good work speaks for itself. And it does, but not nearly as loudly or urgently as a disgruntled consumer.

Knowing that full well, Stephen C. Gidley, president of Stephen C. Gidley Inc. & Associated Building Contractors in Darien, Conn., sends out press releases announcing every certification earned and award won. Choosing to join the Better Business Bureau and doing the homeowner/contractor mediation that helped win his company the bureau’s National Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics have made him a trusted consumer resource. A self-made resource, because he knows that good press builds on itself the same way good referrals do.

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