A cameraman records the remodeling process for the New Year's Day episode of Designers' Challenge.
In each new episode of HGTV's "Designers' Challenge," three designers picked by the producers present their concepts for the same remodeling project to the homeowners. Though the scenario resembles the three-bid sales process that many remodelers prefer to avoid, Construction Concepts Corp., a full-service remodeling firm in Stamford, Conn., took the plunge and won the challenge, a $100,000 design/build project, and a marketing bonanza.
"They called us because we have an interior designer on staff," says company president Cathy Glass, Allied ASID. "We then did the remodeling design, the interior design and the execution of all of the above. We would not have had that opportunity if we were purely a construction firm without affiliation with an interior designer. They liked the fact that we could actually do and control everything."
Homeowner Eileen Schneidman said she not only appreciated knowing that she had a contractor as well as designer, she also liked the amount of time Glass spent studying how the family lived. Glass credits her 20 years of fashion design experience with helping her to understand how to "outfit" a room.
The episode was scheduled for initial showing in the biggest time slot of the year on New Year's Day 2005, drawing an estimated 2 million viewers, and repeated 10 to 12 times that week, pulling up to 20 million viewers. How to make that national exposure have a local impact?
Construction Concepts is promoting the project on their Web site as well as through mailings to targeted homeowners. "The more that consumers see your logo, the more that they will eventually respond to you because you are familiar to them," says Glass. "The comfort factor comes in. They become comfortable with the name. The more comfortable it is for them to give their house for you to do."
She realizes that the yearlong process of producing the show - from initial call to show time - will not produce immediate results, but a long-term response. Even with specifically targeted mailings, "it usually takes four to six months for a reaction," Glass says. Construction Concepts started seeing the impact of the show, however, even before it aired. Having it promoted on their website - which Glass considers the best marketing tool they have - has produced eight to 10 leads a week. With an increase in marketing and promotion and new exposure from the show, Glass estimates a 25 to 33 percent increase in volume in 2005 - a reality she hopes will be found on the bottom line.