Every remodeler knows that having a healthy relationship with the customer is the most important element to the long-term success of their business. That's why I was very surprised to learn that so many remodelers have little or no relationship with the building product manufacturers that could and should be the second-most important priority to them.
After all, remodeling contractors and manufacturers both need to reach the same people: The homeowners who are ready to contract a remodel job and spend their hard-earned money on new products and professional installation.
The frustration with co-op marketing appears to be a shared one, and many of the remodelers and manufacturers I've spoken to about the subject are still scratching their heads trying to figure out a solution that benefits both parties.
The willingness and interest appear to be there on both sides. There just don't seem to be many good cooperative marketing plans in place that make both parties happy.
"I don't understand where it breaks down sometimes," says Dave Cerami, CKBR, president of HomeTech Renovations Inc. in Lansdale, Pa. "It gets frustrating. We spend $100,000–150,000 a year in marketing and advertising, and it would be nice if some of these manufacturers understood that if they'd just say, 'Here's a few dollars, how can we be a part of that?' that we'd be great marketing partners."
Cerami and the Bucks-Mont and DelChester chapters of NARI have started a dialog with manufacturers to encourage them to spend their co-op marketing budgets with remodelers who are, in essence, grassroots salespeople on a local level, where the consumers are. NARI calls this initiative "The Power of Three," because it brings together manufacturers, NARI and professional remodelers to market strategically to consumers.
"I like the idea," says Dave Murray, director of marketing for DRIcore Subfloor Systems, a 5-year-old company that needs to educate consumers and remodelers alike about its product. "We want to be as close to the consumer as possible and not have too many layers in between."
"We're out there pounding the pavement every day, selling to the consumer, so we're the best local salesmen a manufacturer could have," says Cerami. "Educate us about your product, how to properly install it, and let's put together a marketing plan behind it."
Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?