Editorial: Your New Clients

Professional Remodeler Editorial Director Paul Deffenbaugh reminds remodelers that immigrant clients improve the bottom line

May 31, 2009


Paul Deffenbaugh
Editorial Director

Running a successful remodeling business often is about finding a comfortable spot and working it. That spot can be a neighborhood, a niche, a price point or a demographic. Once you've staked that out, you work it like a farm, sowing the seeds and reaping the value.






Immigrants bring widely varied cultural practices to our shores. There are reasons to pursue these clients.

I remember when I sold remodeling projects and visited a prospect whose kitchen and family room were filled with junk floor to ceiling. They wanted a new kitchen, and all I could imagine was how they would trash the beautiful cabinets we would install. My sales visits with them became extraordinary efforts of discipline where I tried to focus on their needs and not shout out that what they really needed was a professional organizer. To make matters worse, the dining and living rooms were decorated with large, porcelain dolls. I was completely unnerved by the dolls. In fact, they scared me.

Senior Editor Jonathan Sweet has written a great feature in this issue about what is probably the ultimate discomfort zone for most remodelers: the immigrant client. Immigrants bring widely varied cultural practices to our shores, including cooking different foods that create different smells, restrictions on communication between the sexes and significant differences in the nature of negotiation.

There are reasons to pursue these clients. As research from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University points out, immigrant homeowners spend more on remodeling and have higher value homes. They are clearly good prospects for professional remodelers.

It's time to push beyond the comfort zone. It's just smart business.

Contact me at paul.deffenbaugh@reedbusiness.com or 630/288-8190.


There are, of course, things that push you beyond that comfort zone. A tough customer. A challenging build. A meticulous design. Sometimes that discomfort is less tangible, less remodeling related and more cultural.


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