Getting in and out of clients' homes in minimum time with little mess makes for happy customers and good cash flow, which has made Rick Oakley's 9-year-old Re-Bath franchise a good addition to his 23-year-old interior remodeling business, Creative Interiors, in Evansville, Ind.
Homeowner Kellie Peslak praises lead carpenter Billy Adams' creative solutions, such as where to put an outlet that had to be moved when the linen closet was added (left). "I get more compliments on that wall outlet in my mirror," she says. "It just camouflages right in. It was a very creative, very pleasing effect."
Countertop and integral bowl: Cameo Marble. Cabinets: Cardell. Toilet: Gerber.
The merchandising displays that Re-Bath provides its dealers also have given Oakley, CGR, CAPS, an advantage at home shows, which have become his biggest source of leads. "Consumers can see the product. We have a half-before and half-after tub," he says. "Before, there wasn't anything for them to focus on."
One of those leads came from Kellie and Josiah Peslak, also of Evansville, who attended a spring 2003 home show just for fun. However, the original toilets in the Peslaks' 11/2 bathrooms weren't functioning well, and Kellie Peslak had been itching to redo the 50-year-old, green-and-pink color scheme since moving in two years earlier. Plus, with one child at home and another on the way, they wanted an easy-to-clean tub area instead of their old tile, grout and cast-iron tub.
Though impressed by the Creative Interiors display and Oakley's knowledge, Kellie wasn't quite ready to buy. Then she went to Illinois to visit her mother, whose bathroom had been remodeled by another Re-Bath franchise. "My mom had nothing but glowing reports about them," Peslak says. "Nothing's better than a glowing referral from Mom."
The one-close call
After: "You can't tell this tub is actually a tub liner," Kellie Peslak says. "They spent a lot of time getting the exact fit to my tub."
Tub and wall liner: Re-Bath. Fixtures: Wolverine Brass. After photos by Kenneth Hayden
After qualifying prospects, Oakley usually encourages them to visit his 1,500-square-foot showroom to see the product. The Peslaks were already familiar with Re-Bath, so he gave them a ballpark estimate and made an appointment to take measurements at their home. Oakley gives clients a presentation manual to look through and a three-minute video to watch while he measures.
He also brings a case containing tub color samples and styles so clients can make selections on the spot. "I knew I wanted white," Kellie Peslak says. "He helped me decide what was more modern-looking."
During this visit, they also discussed replacing the floor, toilet, vanity and countertops, as well as putting a pedestal lavatory and new toilet in the half-bath. Peslak wanted a linen cabinet, too, and Oakley helped her choose a size that would leave countertop space without forcing his crew to move the sink and plumbing.
"That's where our remodeling experience was able to work right along with the Re-Bath," he explains. Oakley sold the job on June 19, 2003.
The appeal of do-it-for-me
Before: The Peslaks' bathroom had not been updated since the home was built. "The color of the tile is just dead-on '50s," Rick Oakley says.
Kellie Peslak had dabbled in do-it-yourself home remodeling before but did not think she and her husband could handle replacing toilets. She also didn't want the bathrooms to be out of commission for long.
"When I went into it, I expected it to be done much sooner than I could have done it, and my assumption was correct," she says. "My main bath took a little under a week."
Scheduling had to be down to a science to complete the project by Aug. 29 while subcontracting the floors. Oakley uses the same flooring contractor regularly, coordinating the production while allowing the client to pay the sub directly.
"The customer has to go shopping for that material, and we don't have a showroom big enough to show flooring," Oakley explains. "Since they're going to have to shop at other stores anyway, it's hard for us to put anything on it. They're going to know the prices.
"By recommending the same contractor all the time, we get real good service. There's not that many dollars in a bathroom linoleum floor. It's more important to us to get it down when we want it down."
The only real surprise for the homeowners occurred when Billy Adams, Creative Interiors' lead carpenter, encountered mold on the wall when he went to install the plumbing. He removed and replaced the drywall, which Oakley says is standard procedure for small dots of mold. For any major discovery, Creative Interiors stops work and asks the customer to work directly with a mold remediator.
"I most definitely would use them again or recommend them to friends," Kellie Peslak says. "Everybody was nice, professional, punctual. They saw things I didn't see, and they brought them up and let me make the decision."