Many remodelers say the do-it-yourself crowd is morphing into a do-it-for-me population. Harvard University says otherwise. "Measuring the Benefits of Home Remodeling," the latest report from the Remodeling Futures Program of Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies, indicates that households with an annual income of more than $120,000 accounted for more than 50% of DIY growth as well as two-thirds of the growth of professional remodeling in the late 1990s. Harvard also estimates that DIY remodeling makes up about 20% of the overall home improvement market. The buy-it-yourself market - installed sales, customers who want you to use tiles they bought in Italy, DIYers who give up - is harder to track but growing.
Working with either group gets messy. Who's responsible for the warranty when one party buys and the other installs? Delivery? The schedule? It also opens remodelers to even more competition and comparisons with a wide range of players, from big retailers to local suppliers to trade contractors to manufacturers.
Maybe true service means accommodating customers however they wish, even letting them buy some products or do some work. Maybe it also means offering a selections center or showroom, as well as weekend or evening hours, to make the process more convenient. Look at your favorite restaurant or hotel. It's probably a small, personable place for which you drive out of your way and pay more than average. Those businesses always will have a market niche. But don't tell me you never eat at Olive Garden or stay at a Marriott. And don't tell me they haven’t eaten into the market share of even the best little businesses.