Lupberger: Collaborate with your trade partners

Marketing is a numbers game. The more people you can talk with, the more work you will sell.

September 13, 2012

Alot of the information shared in this magazine focuses on how to work with homeowners more effectively. This is certainly required, as home remodeling is a “high-touch” service offering, and successful contractors understand how to guide and manage the homeowner experience.

I want to introduce another avenue to opening up potential project opportunities by optimizing the relationships you already have with trade contractors and suppliers. The remodeling industry is a relationship-driven business model, but the relationships don’t stop with the homeowners we work with. We also have good relationships with our proven team of trade contractors and suppliers. Every good remodeler has a favorite electrician, plumber, HVAC contractor, or house painter. These good tradespeople understand how to deliver a good customer experience, and as these trade contractors are an extension of our business, we want to work with people that will deliver that positive client experience.

Let’s see if we can take this one step further. Just as you employ trade contractors to work with your best clients, I want you to consider leveraging these important relationships and looking into making these key business relationships reciprocal; meaning it goes both ways. For example, working with your good clients, you bring in high-quality tradespeople and you help them sell their services as part of your project. I want you to consider the fact that your tradespeople also have a list of good past clients. Are they marketing your services to their good past clients? If not, why not?

Every homeowner wants good professional work, done right, for a fair price. Can you begin to create a network of qualified trade contractors — people whose work is exceptional — and begin to cross-market each other’s services? This can be as simple as putting together an informational flyer for homeowners, where you can share information regarding each partner’s expertise, letting potential customers know that this partnership of professional tradespeople (including you) was assembled to give your homeowner clients access to a proven trade contractor and supplier network.

In a sense, it’s an informal lead-generation group. The group is made up of complementary home services, and any member that joins the group agrees to market the services of other members to their customer database. To be a member, you may need to identify and state member commitments. For example, all participating members would be required to return calls promptly, do any work in a timely and professional fashion, and return quickly for any kind of warranty work.

This collection of trade contractors and suppliers must be good at what they do. When you recommend someone, you’re putting your reputation at stake. Can you assemble a group of exceptional service people and suppliers that you can promote to your homeowner clients? Would your past clients benefit from this cooperative business agreement? Imagine letting your clients know that you have assembled a group of professional home service contractors and suppliers so that your homeowner clients will never again have to worry about finding a professional service provider. Your clients will appreciate this service.

This is not for everyone. If a homeowner wants to manage the process of finding and hiring someone to work in their home, let them do it. But many homeowners don’t enjoy this vetting and hiring process. They don’t know how to evaluate and select a good contractor, and many of them have been burned in the process. I do know this - homeowners want to work with tradespeople that they like and trust. Because of your existing relationships with your trade partners, you have the ability to refer qualified and professional tradespeople. This cooperative referral network will benefit everyone involved. Will small projects be involved? Yes they will, but that’s fine. Project diversification offers ongoing work, and we never know where the next big job is coming from. A good working relationship with a homeowner is the beginning of any big project.

Marketing is a numbers game. The more people you can talk with, the more work you will sell. Leverage the relationships you already have with your trade contractors and suppliers. Optimize the influence you have with your client base. This cooperative marketing will benefit everyone involved. Who are your potential marketing partners? The work is waiting.

David Lupberger has been in the remodeling industry for more than 20 years and is author of Managing the Emotional Homeowner, the Remodelers Turnkey Program, and the Home Asset Management Plan. You can reach him at david@davidlupberger.com, or at 303-442-3702.

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