Lipford credits being involved with remodeling and building associations, like NAHB, with helping him raise his profile earlier in his career.
Danny Lipford was a remodeler before he was a television show host. Now he’s both. He owns Lipford Construction out of Mobile, Alabama, and he’s the face of the nationally syndicated home improvement show Today’s Homeowner—which is on its 22nd season and typically airs on Sundays. He’s also the president of Today’s Homeowner Media, which owns the rights to the show, and the radio program, podcast, and website, and other related media.
As a remodeler, Lipford’s career appears anomalous—not a lot of contractors make a decent living on television. Still, in many ways his experiences reflect those of the everyday remodeler.
Lay a Foundation
Lipford started his on-screen appearance as the host of a local cable show called Remodeling Today, for which he built his own sets and was paid about $100 per week. Before that, he was making his way as a remodeler. He launched Lipford Construction after college on the back of a single, big project, and grew his business through self study, industry engagement, careful hiring, and practicing professionalism and systemization.
“Our organization is strong because of things we were doing 20 years ago,” Lipford says. “Everything is systematic: pre-construction conferences, rapid followup. Regular communication with everyone is crucial, and we do it well.”
Increase Your Profile
Lipford began growing his public profile as an industry thought leader in the mid ‘80s, after establishing his business. “Back then, the big thing was to get in the newspaper,” he says. “Get your project in the paper, and your phone will ring off the hook.” Today the equivalent would be going viral on YouTube.
“I realized early on that the easiest way to get a paper to feature you was to make it as easy as possible,” he says. So Lipford would send project dossiers to local editors. He’d include details, loads of photos, and would confirm that the reporter would have access to the project (in case they wanted to stop by for an interview).
“The phone was absolutely ringing off the hook after that.” But it wasn’t until he got more active in the National Association of Home Builders and started speaking at events that he caught the attention of a local cable channel.
Anticipate Your Audience
As the host of Remodeling Today, Lipford needed to engage the audience. He did it by preempting their questions. “After 10 years as a remodeler, I knew what people were going to ask,” he says, “so I’d answer before they could.”
It’s a practice he carried over to Today’s Homeowner, but also one he built into his business. “It makes people feel so comfortable,” he says. “For instance, everyone wants to know a job’s start date. So, I imagine they’ll ask, and tell them up front.”
Applied to web content, it’s a formula for showing up in Google’s coveted “position zero,” otherwise known as the “Featured Snippet.”
Transition Without Letting Go
After years of growing his local cable presence, Lipford was approached by Today’s Homeowner, at the time a national magazine making the leap into television. The job greatly upped Lipford’s profile, and he had to relinquish the majority of his responsibilities as owner of Lipford Construction.
Transitioning the business to managers meant having employees he’d trusted, and also properly motivating those employees. “We started a simple bonus program that pays out to employees when projects are particularly profitable,” he says. “We’ve been in business more than 30 years, and this year was our most profitable ever. The guys joke that I should’ve scaled back years ago.