David Lupberger: The marketing power of strategic partnerships

A home is frequently the largest investment a homeowner makes, and taking care of this investment is a primary concern for most homeowners. Finding the right people to assist them with ongoing home service requirements is a homeowner’s biggest challenge.

June 11, 2013

We are all familiar with working with homeowners and helping them see the benefit of working with a professional contractor. All contractors are not created equal, so it’s a requirement that we differentiate ourselves when we are presenting our products and services. With homeowners focused on price, let’s review a powerful way to distinguish yourself with both past and future clients.

A home is frequently the largest investment a homeowner makes, and taking care of this investment is a primary concern for most homeowners. Finding the right people to assist them with ongoing home service requirements is a homeowner’s biggest challenge. Most homeowners don’t know how to distinguish good contractors from bad. There are horror stories of homeowners hiring bad contractors who end up costing the homeowner thousands of dollars.

As a remodeler, you have a solution to this problem. You can assist both past and future clients with these important home-care decisions. You have a network of preferred professionals that you work with on a regular basis. Think of your primary subcontractors: HVAC, roofers, painters, plumbers, and electricians.

In addition, how many additional service providers do you work with who assist you with deck-building, gutter installations, drywall repair, home theater installations, outdoor finishes, and other projects? Most general contractors have assembled a trusted group of subcontractors who have proven their value and can undertake most home projects because they have the skillset to complete numerous types of projects.

When visiting with both past and potential future clients, highlight the fact you work with a proven group of trade contractors and suppliers. Let them know that, as a client of yours, they will not have to worry about a project being done correctly or knowing that a subcontractor is licensed and insured. You already have a professional network you can share with your clients that can provide the exceptional service they need.

Many contractors are aware of Business Networks International, the world’s largest business networking organization. Many remodelers have joined a local chapter of BNI to ramp up their word-of-mouth marketing with other business professionals. This is a very successful model of referral marketing, and members refer business to the other members within their group. Contractors all over the country have generated thousands of dollars in sales by participating in BNI. Whether or not you are a member of BNI, you have the capability to build a similar referral network. Your network would consist of the proven trade contractors and suppliers that you work with. There are direct benefits to your referral partners:

  • Additional work/sales
  • Building cooperative/referral partnerships
  • Every trade contractor (and supplier) has a list of good past customers

The key benefit of this referral network is that just as you have a list of good past clients, so do trade contractors and suppliers. Many of these subs and suppliers already know one another and the quality of work these tradespeople bring to the table. As you begin to introduce your good clients to your network, all of your referral partners benefit. The key to this referral network is that membership is reciprocal. Just as you introduce them to your good clients, your preferred partners will introduce you to their good clients. 

For example, one contractor told me about a referral partnership with a home theater contractor. Home theaters are a very specialized task, and the home theater contractor had a long list of good past customers. Every one of his home theater clients had additional work they needed done on their homes, but the home theater contractor didn’t possess the expertise for these additional projects. Seeing the value of this partnership, the general contractor suggested they “cross-market” to each other’s client list. People work with those that they know, like, and trust. The homeowners’ relationship with the home theater contractor opened up a referral to the general contractor because of the relationship they had with the home theater contractor. This referral opportunity worked both ways. The general contractor could freely recommend the services of the home theater contractor to his list of good clients.

You have these professional affiliations and a list of good trade contractors and suppliers. This is the basis of a marketing opportunity. Become the “hub” of influence with your trade contractor partners. Let your homeowner clients know they can access your network. Work with your trade contractors and suppliers to do the same. Become the connector. You will all benefit. PR

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