Keys for 2012 success in remodeling

16 industry leaders share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for 2012

January 18, 2012

This year promises to be another challenging one for the remodeling industry, but even in challenging markets there are opportunities.

We talked to several leaders in the industry about their top challenges and opportunities for 2012 and their keys for success. From creating “raving fans” to taking advantage of the great talent available, these top remodelers are seeing plenty of opportunity to improve their businesses in 2012.

 

 

Gary Marrokal, President

Marrokal Design & Remodeling, San Diego

2010 PR Remodeler of the Year

Top Opportunity

Everyone at Marrokal is reading “Raving Fans” by Ken Blanchard again in an attempt to make customer satisfaction even better. “The best marketing that we can do is a referral and you have to earn that.”

Top Challenge

Keeping a positive attitude in the company by having owners and key managers set a good example. “Attitude is so important. We have to get out there and make it happen.”

Key to 2012 Success

“A successful year is getting our gross profit up, a successful year is people that work here being content, a successful year is happier clients above all.”

Jeff Kaliner, CEO

Power Home Remodeling Group, Chester, Pa.

2011 Philadelphia Market Leader

Top Opportunity

Growth in the company’s new markets outside of Philadelphia and New Jersey, as well as increased demand for roofing because of the last few harsh winters on the East Coast.

Top Challenge

Making sure the operations and installation side of the business match the talent of the sales and marketing team. “We want to bring an experience to the consumer at the end of the day that is second to none.”

Key to 2012 Success

Improving conversion rates. “We’ve been successful in getting the phone to ring, but people are a little gun shy to take the next step.”

Peter Michelson, CEO

Renewal Design-Build, Decatur, Ga.

2011 Atlanta Market Leader

Top Opportunity

Partnering with the best trades and hiring the great new employees. “There’s really excellent talent available for us.”

Top Challenge

Today’s headlines. “People are afraid to pull the trigger. They’re afraid of where the economy is headed.”

Key to 2012 Success

“Hitting the net numbers that we need to be hitting, but not at the expense of burning people out or having unhappy clients.”

[pagebreak]

Jake Zahnow, President

Window Pro, Cleveland

2011 PR 40 Under 40

Top opportunity

“The opportunity for business owners in our industry is to right size the business to deal with the market as it is — and not as it was.”

Top challenge

“New opportunity generation will remain the industry’s top challenge in 2012.”

Key to 2012 success

“We need to be successful lead generators. If we are not successful in this area, nothing else will matter.”

Peter Feinmann, President

Feinmann, Inc., Lexington, Mass.

2011 Boston Market Leader

Top Opportunity

Developing the company’s handyman division and finding further ways to diversify.

Top challenge

Trying to grow the design/build division and creating energy in the company after four years of a tough economy.

Key to 2012 success

Higher gross margins and getting within 2 to 3 percent of revenue goals

Stephen Klein, CEO

Anthony Home Improvements, Elkins Park, Pa.

2011 PR Remodeler of the Year

Top opportunity

Growing the company’s new 1 Call Bath Solutions aging-in-place division and building the National Association of Professionally

Accredited Contractors to raise the professionalism of the industry

Top challenge

Generating cost-effective leads and managing the rising costs of doing business including volatile gas prices and increased health care costs.

Key to 2012 Success

“We have to make sure that everyone knows their role and try to remain flexible in case we’re hit with external factors beyond out control.”

[pagebreak]

Carol Longacre, Owner

Longacre Construction, Lewisville, Texas

2011 Dallas Market Leader

Top opportunity

“I think our top opportunities would be we are working on getting new and different certifications that add to our business model so that the average handyman can’t compete with us.”

Top challenge

“The new ‘contractors’ that are coming in our industry without any knowledge on how to operate a remodeling business.”

Key to 2012 success

“Our success will depend on if we are able to continue to sell our professionalism to our current market and make the client understand you get what you pay and the contractors that are working for below our cost will not be around to service you down the road.”

Tom Kelly, President

Neil Kelly Co., Portland, Ore.

2008 PR Remodeler of the Year

Top opportunity

Capitalizing on company’s move into Seattle, with plans to open a showroom there later this year.

Top challenge

“Our challenge for our core business of remodeling continues to be lead acquisition. We intend to continue to evolve our marketing in response to the transformative importance of the web.”

Key to 2012 success

“Smart marketing and hard work will be the keys to our success.”

Greg Harth, President

Harth Builders, Spring House, Pa.

2011 Professional Remodeler 40 Under 40

Top opportunity

“Most of our clients have resigned themselves to living in their house for another 5 years due to different market pressures and conditions and realized, if they need to do this, they may as well enjoy the kitchen they have.”

Top challenge

“Finding enough equity or lending for home remodels. There is plenty of desire, but most people don’t have the 20 percent equity in their house to meet refinancing to take advantage of the low interest rates.”

Key to 2012 success

8 percent net profit and hitting $2.185mm budget

[pagebreak]

Bruce Case, President

Case Design/Remodeling, Bethesda, Md.

2009 PR Remodeler of the Year

Top opportunity

Continuing to diversify through low-risk pilot efforts, while motivating and building a world-class team of employees.

Top challenge

Balancing focus/energy spent on existing business lines vs. that spent on new initiatives while dealing with competition because of the ease of entry into the remodeling industry.

Key to 2012 success

“Working as one cohesive team, consistently delivering on the promises we make — to each other, to our clients, and to our alliance partners.”

Bob Peterson, President

ABD Design/Build, Fort Collins, Colo.

NAHBR Chairman

Top opportunity

“Continue to capitalize on our strong brand while maintaining a very lean and efficient company process … The companies who have worked hard to establish themselves as a brand name in their markets will be the first to grow during any recovery.”

Top challenge

“Entry into the remodeling business by people who are unemployed and by new home builders who do not understand the remodeling process and pricing will always be a challenge.” Also the pressure from continued regulations “as long there are people willing to perform without following the rules.”

Key to 2012 success

Staying focused on changing to meet today’s remodeling world and also focusing on staying lean and efficient.

Stewart Davis, Design Director

CG&S Design-Build, Austin, Texas

Winner of the 2011 Professional Remodeler Design Awards Project of the Year

Top opportunity

“Solidifying our leadership role in the Austin residential renovation market by using our reputation, longevity and high quality standards to separate us even further from others.”

Top challenge

“Balancing our clients’ desire for beautiful and functional projects with their desire to keep costs low. Knowing how far to go without creating negative responses that result in projects going on hold or being cancelled altogether.”

Key to 2012 success

“The key is finding the ‘right’ clients: Those that want what we offer (full service, quality based design and construction) and who are not looking for the lowest cost contractor or easiest fix.”

[pagebreak]

John Todd, President

Elite Remodeling, Frisco, Texas

2011 Dallas Market Leader

Top opportunity

Increasing gross margins, improving skill sets and expanding the company’s brand through new partnerships.

Top challenge

“To see changes in a softening of our market early enough to plan for it, improve internal productivity through new processes and toolsets and reduce warranty expense through improved construction and communications.”

Key to 2012 success

“Having an up year, flat year or even a down year is OK in today’s environment, as long as I planned for it!”

Bill Shaw, President

William Shaw & Associates, Houston

2011 Houston Market Leader

Top opportunity

Not repeating the mistake of taking on lower-margin jobs just to keep working, while budgeting marketing dollars for

new opportunities.

Top challenge

“Our top challenge is to monitor our financials carefully and often, then to have a plan in place to modify our overhead expeditiously if we need to.”

Key to 2012 success

“How we market and how we sell are still the foundations for success in the

remodeling business. … No one in this industry can afford to relax, accept business as usual, and just be lazy.”

Allison Iantosca, Partner

F.H. Perry Builder, Hopkinton, Mass.

2011 Boston Market Leader

Top opportunity

Small project and maintenance division, F.H. Perry Home, poised to take off, providing an opportunity to keep in touch with old clients and attract new. “A place where people are willing to spend money. Order taking as opposed to bidding.”

Top challenge

Never taking any relationship for granted and constant reinforcement of F.H. Perry’s brand message and difference.

Key to 2012 Success

Selling projects through F.H. Perry Home such that it serves as a full-bodied revenue source and securing contracts for two or three big projects early in the year.

Matt Plaskoff, CEO

One Week Bath, Van Nuys, Calif.

2011 Los Angeles Market Leader

Top opportunity

Creating efficiencies and lean practices that will serve the business when the economy turns.

Top challenge

Maintaining a solid flow of viable leads and remaining flexible in a volatile economy. “It’s a more competitive market than ever and those that can provide an extraordinary product, service and value will continue to thrive,” Plaskoff says.

Key to 2012 Success

Being aware of the market and making change as necessary to respond to it.

About the Author


Overlay Init