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Punch Up Your Sales Now!

When it comes to remodeling sales, some markets still boom; others are closer to bust.

February 28, 2003
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Improve Prospecting

15. Form an alliance

Take a proactive approach to targeting prospects, as Mike McCoy, CEO of Coy Construction in Walled Lake, Mich., did. His company builds or remodels 1,200 decks annually, so he looked for neighborhoods of new homes without landscaping and then offered those homeowners a free preliminary deck design and estimate.

Developing relationships with noncompeting professionals who will send prospects your way is a logical extension, Mattson suggests. For instance, new-home builders might be happy to have their clients come to your company for a finished basement after the house is built, while a kitchen/bath specialist could pass along a client wanting an addition. - Kimberly Sweet


16. Develop - or redevelop - a buyer profile


Examples of buyer profile overviews

Upscale: Typically, the more upscale the prospects are and the more they are established in the community, the more likely they are to put value in the remodeler's name as a guarantee of good performance. Wealthy prospects generally place more emphasis on their reputation for choosing the right remodeler than they will put on budget. There is a definite threat to the homeowners' reputation if they make a bad decision, and that threat increases with their status in the community. A bad decision clouds the community’s perception of their judgment.

Budget-minded: On the other hand, the less disposable income a prospect has, the more that cost is a factor. These people are less inclined to look at reputation when selecting a remodeler.

Studious: Somewhere in the middle is the yuppie (young, upwardly mobile professional) or his first cousin, the dink (double income, no kids). These two groups have plenty of disposable income, usually have enough time and interest to educate themselves on new products and trends, and pride themselves on how innovative and creative they can be without overbuilding for the neighborhood. These people bombard the salesperson with requests for information and specifications on a product. Mike Gorman.

This is excerpted from Gorman's series of stories about the fictional "Nick Drummer, Builder, Remodeler." Gorman, a speaker and consultant to the remodeling industry, can be reached at 800/218-5149 or

You might think you know who your best customers are, but do you really? What if you're ignoring potential customers? What if all salespeople on the team have different ideas of whom they should be targeting and what their triggers are?

For efficiency as well as profitability, spend time identifying the demographics and psychographics of your market. For instance, says Gorman, younger people tend to be more knowledgeable about products and are looking for their remodeler to affirm or refute their product choices, not to make decisions for them.

Johns groups the basic categories to explore with clients as follows: family, occupation and recreations. He suggests finding out what clubs they belong to and where they shop as examples. - Kimberly Sweet


17. Follow up on warranties even when there isn't a problem

Every remodeler in it for the long haul knows it's not clever sales pitches or cheap prices that make a business a long-term success, but good customer relationships. A slow period is a great time to leverage those relationships for new jobs.

Hanbury uses warranties to reconnect with past clients. When a warranty is about to run out, he contacts the customer and offers to inspect the work. This helps his business two ways.

First, when Hanbury is inspecting a project, the owner often gives him more work on the spot. "Those people you go back to will actually ask you to do other stuff while you're there. It might generate a front-door job for $1,200," he says.

Second, and perhaps more significant, is that getting these smaller jobs helps establish long-term relationships. That, says Hanbury, pays off down the road in the form of larger projects and referrals.

"Even if it's only $1,000, it sets you up as a person to think about. It's really nice when you don't have to have everyone price-shop you." - Toby Weber


18. Reward existing clients

Every December, a slow sales month for Dial One, the company holds Customer Appreciation Month, when former clients receive a fixed discount - it was 10% in 2002 - on any remodeling job. - Kimberly Sweet


19. Analyze your data

No doubt you already track your leads to see where most of your company's business comes from and how high its referral rate is. But have you mined all your company's records to find all possible insights?

For instance, Mattson suggests, if the company does a high percentage of repeat business, look for patterns in the amount of time between jobs or the order in which different types of jobs are requested. Then start calling likely repeat prospects instead of waiting for them to call you. - Kimberly Sweet


20. Spend personal time with new clients

Remodelers are people, too. That's the message Gidus hopes to convey to new clients when he takes them to dinner or the theater. "We set aside the business side of the relationship and focus on more of a friendship," he says. "We try to let them know we're regular guys and that our goal is to make sure they're happy with their project."

The idea is to make clients comfortable enough that they will not only use PSG again for future projects, but also will spread the word about these "regular guys." - Linda Abu-Shalback


21. Ask for referrals after the fact

Asking for referrals when a job is completed makes sense. So does asking two years later. Don't just "touch" a client with a holiday card, says Mattson. While it's a great prospecting technique, it's passive, not active. Pick up the phone and ask not just what work that client might want done but also about the client's friends. - Kimberly Sweet


22. Plan now for results later

About two years ago, Eren Design & Construction in Tucson, Ariz., began sending out direct mailings on a quarterly basis. "It looks like a greeting card and is sort of a tickler to get them to think of what a new kitchen could be like or what it would be like to have a guesthouse," CEO Janice Donald says. The direct mail has helped double the number of leads the company gets, she says. - Linda Abu-Shalback


23. Gain mind share now

There's a reason why brand names sell. In addition to courting referrals, Breidenbach implemented what he calls a "saturation bombing" campaign to keep his company top-of-mind in the Spokane market, which has had a depressed economy for years. "If you're top-of-mind, then you're a lock with that referral," he says. "Otherwise you're just one of five bids." - Kimberly Sweet


Strategies #1-7 Strategies #8-14

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