PR September 2005

August 16, 2010


The typical entrepreneur, whether starting a remodeling company or some other small business, has a general idea of what he or she wants to do: Build a company with a great reputation. Be known for quality work. Be his or her own boss. Provide a good life for his or her family. Most of us want these things from our remodeling companies.

What if you could rely on a single lead source for 40 percent of your business next year? Sure would make it a little easier to formulate your marketing plan, wouldn't it? Sounds like a fantasy, doesn't it? Well, not for New Spaces in Burnsville, Minn., which generates some $2 million in annual sales from leads generated by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities' Annual Parade of Homes Remodelors Showcase.

From the first time someone copied a file to a diskette, people have recognized the importance and value of sharing computer files among users and their computers. It wasn't long before a handful of enterprising companies began developing hardware and software that enabled personal computers to be linked together, or networked.

As I write this, the images of devastation from hurricanes Katrina and Rita are still vivid in my mind. These twin sisters of destruction have altered the economic landscape in ways that will be felt for months, if not years.

Even in the age of potfillers and second sinks, body jets and soaking tubs, some homeowners care about water conservation. They'd like to reduce their water bill, or their area is experiencing a drought forcing reduced usage.

You never know what lies behind the walls of an existing home. Every remodeling project is unique. Renovating an existing home is much harder than building a new home. Finding a skilled remodeling carpenter is harder than finding that needle in the haystack. These are some of the proverbs of the industry, but they can also be used as excuses.

Just when you think you can spot a lemon of a remodeling job, along comes a lemon that turns into lemonade. The project that Gehman Custom Remodeling completed for David and Terri Wyher this summer is a thirst-quenching case in point. At first the project looked straightforward enough — exterior repairs and a few other things.

Ask around. Tradespeople will always know if the crew before them did a good job.

"Wow!" That's all Rick Montelongo, CGR, president of Montelongo Homes & Remodeling, could say when he first saw this 1950s, 1,200-square-foot brick home. Nestled between mature oaks on a prime lot in the coveted, historic Olmos Park area, the house had been left to decline: Broken windows, a dilapidated brick façade and small, confining rooms.

When the owners of this suburban Boston home — both natives of Florida — looked to build a kitchen addition, they elected to do it in 2002, which proved to be the coldest winter Massachusetts had seen since 1950. But this climate challenge didn't stop Mitchell Construction.

A client more concerned about finish details than the budget? For some remodelers, that might be a nightmare. But if your focus is architectural integrity, it's a dream come true. These homeowners could only use their existing screened porch in nice weather, and their deck needed an upgrade. They wanted to replace both with something punchy, something unusual.

Creativity doesn't simply extend to remodelers' bump out ability and wall placement strategies. Remodelers' products are an expression and reflection of their experience and credibility. Products are what you leave behind, and they speak volumes after remodelers have walked off the site, especially if something is wrong.

Seminars, classes, conferences, peer groups — indeed, even remodeling publications — devote themselves to teaching the importance of understanding overhead and net profit, margin and markup. As a whole, the industry doesn't charge enough to make the margin required to cover overhead, pay the owner a good salary, invest back into the business and provide a retirement plan.

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