Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at or 301.275.0208.

Winning Against the Real Competition

Today, your real competition isn’t the other remodelers, builders, or designers in your area; your real competitor is the homeowner

August 23, 2016

If you look back 12 months and study all the prospects who didn’t proceed with you, you’ll likely find that more than half of them didn’t do the project at all. It’s also probably fair to say that those prospects didn’t initially call you because they were lonely or needed entertainment; they called because they had a remodeling need, a strong yearning to improve their home environment. But although they were attentive, enthusiastic even, during your sales meeting, after you left they were unable to make a decision and so they continued to place the project on the backburner.

Technical and management skills are essential to remodeling success, but other abilities, such as effective communication, are equally critical. Increase your skill at helping homeowners understand remodeling, and you will likely end up with a higher percentage of prospects committing to doing their project.

The familiar saying, “People buy emotionally and rationalize their decision logically,” is more relevant today than ever. Homeowner emotion builds in your first meeting when they’re excited about making changes and improving their lifestyle. But something happens when you leave. Emotion is replaced by reality. Anxiety over the investment and fear of making a mistake starts to overwhelm. The response: Put off the project.

The key to countering this dynamic is to plant the seeds of logic throughout the meeting. Asking—and answering—the following three questions will help prospects find the reasons they need to maintain emotional involvement.

Why do this project? If you don’t have a reason, then don’t expect the prospect to have one either. Instead, discuss several fact-based answers, such as “Renovating the kitchen will make the house more marketable if you ever want to move or sell.” Prepare a list of reasons like this in advance and look for opportunities to work them into the conversation.

Why do this project now? One answer may be, “We’ve found that remodeling costs annually increase 5 to 10 percent, whereas most cash in a CD is only earning about 1 percent interest. By putting off the project, your cash isn’t even keeping up with inflation and you’re missing out on the benefits of a new kitchen.”

Why do this project with you? You need to articulate why your company is the right one for the homeowner’s needs. For example, you could highlight your experience: “Kitchens and bathrooms are complex, high-risk projects. There are many trades to manage, different materials to work with, and a variety of fixtures and appliances to install. We complete 25 or more projects like this every year, whereas most companies only complete a couple.” You might use a medical analogy: “Remodeling isn’t heart surgery, but if you needed heart surgery, you’d want an experienced surgeon. Experience also makes a difference in kitchen remodeling.” 

Not every reason you come up with will resonate with every prospect, so prepare as many as you can and use the ones you think will have the desired effect. Assisting prospects in thinking through the reasons to move forward will help them justify their emotional investment in the project, and you’ll increase sales of projects that might otherwise never get done.

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