Although you hope your employees embrace green for its own sake, it doesn't hurt to offer them a little incentive.
Every year, Allen Associates in Santa Barbara, Calif., gives out a Green Innovator Award to a project manager or assistant project manager who has gone above and beyond in incorporating green.
The winner is recognized with a gift certificate with a $500 to $600 value. One year an avid skier won and was rewarded with a weekend stay at Mammoth Mountain.
The winner is chosen based on how many projects he has submitted to certification programs, new green products brought to the company, the overall significance of those features and what he's done to promote green to customers.
The program has emphasized the importance of green to the Allen team, says Karen Feeney, the company's green resources manager.
“Even though we've been known as a green builder for a long time, I think this has become an important part of our culture,” she says. “Now we have numerous project managers that are researching green products and systems on their own and bringing them back to the company.”
The company also recognizes other employees that have taken steps to green the company. Every year, a member of the office staff receives a $100 gift certificate. Last year, the award was given to an employee who had set up a worm composting program for the office. The year before that, Allen recognized the human resources manager for replacing the company's cotton shirts with ones made from bamboo.
“It's small things that have helped to push the envelope on green,” Feeney says. “It's encouraged all the members of our staff to suggest things that would make our company stronger and greener.”
Now more than ever, repeat and referral business is essential to success for remodeling companies.
Many companies are using various incentive programs to keep that business coming in during a down economy.
Long Island, N.Y., remodeler Alure Home Improvements has a PartnerPoints program that allows clients to earn points toward a Caribbean vacation. Homeowners earn a point for every dollar they spend on remodeling, plus a point for every dollar referred customers spend on their first project with the company.
Clients can also earn additional points by attending events at Alure. With 200,000 points, they get a free trip, this year to Puerto Vallarta. So far, the company has already sent 58 couples on vacation.
Omarica Builders in Oak Brook, Ill., offers clients miles in Delta's frequent flyer program.
Other companies use simpler plans. For example, Sun Design Remodeling Specialists in Burke, Va., and Kitchen Mart in Sacramento, Calif., reward clients for referrals with gift cards to local merchants and restaurants.
However you do it, a program can only go so far. In the end, it's the quality of the work that makes the difference in repeat and referral business. (Although it certainly doesn't hurt to throw a little free stuff their way.)
“The program's been somewhat successful, but nothing can make up for making that client happy,” says Alure President and CEO Sal Ferro. “We have a very solid warranty department and we take care of our clients, and that's what's important.”
One of the things we touched on in our December Corner Office article [if you were reading this online, there'd be a link here] on Mosby Building Arts is how branding is different than marketing. Because of his years hosting a home improvement show on KMOX radio, Scott Mosby had a great brand, but it wasn't until he started advertising a few years ago that business really took off.
That combination of branding and traditional marketing is the key to success, says branding success story Orren Pickell. There are few, if any, remodelers that have the brand recognition in their local market that Pickell does. Here's what we wrote in August [another link]:
Bringing classic marketing (advertising, public relations, etc.) into the mix raises a company's profile. The idea is that that gets people to ask their friends and neighbors about Orren Pickell. If the grassroots marketing has done its job, then the response will be, “I hear they do good work,” Pickell says.
If you have a Trade Secret you would like to share, e-mail Senior Editor Jonathan Sweet at email@example.com.