Remodelers Create a Separate Business for their Specialty

Learn to market to your remodeling business and your specialty business

December 31, 2008

Doug Dwyer, president and chief stewarding officer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen by Worldwide

Doug Dwyer
Contributing Editor

There are professional remodelers. And then there are those whose profession includes remodeling. The jobs they do could be the same. But the way they approach them is different. And, therefore, so is their success.

I recently corresponded with a reader in the Northeast who is both a builder and a remodeler. Judging from the outstanding new construction photos as well as the before and after remodeling pictures on his Web site, he has plenty to be proud of in terms of skills and results. However, like so many in today's economy, he battles an identity crisis.

Two Specialties, One Business

Here is a professional who is extremely good at two things: new home construction and residential remodeling. But he is marketing only one business. And that business has successfully built a reputation as a custom home builder.

That was fine when new home construction was at its peak. He was making good money, charging a deserving price and offering a nice product. He was paid prior to releasing the house to the client. He didn't have to deal with the obstacles of doing his job while customers were living on the premises. He delivered as promised, and both parties were happy. He could hang his hat on that as long as the market allowed. And for a sideline business, he might even remodel a kitchen or bath.

Then the market changed

As credit has tightened and consumers have stayed put, remodeling has become more important to his company. At the same time, consumers do not see that as his core service. So, whatever his services can conform to in a changing market, the look and feel of his business is having a harder time.

He's booking jobs, but he admits it's a harder sales process. Here's why.

There are many builders who have migrated to remodeling in the current economy. And what was once relegated to a smaller number of jobs on the side has now become the lifeline of their business. They're touting divisions within their companies to handle it, but they're also creating a common hurdle for themselves in the process. They are battling between experience and focus.

While my reader in the Northeast is capable, even exceptional, at very different kinds of projects, he still may have a harder time winning jobs because of that very same thing.

Meanwhile, there are competitors who are marketing their specialty to do just one thing. Remodeling.

The Expert

Regardless of abilities, here's the more important point to consider. Consumers want an expert. And the specialists who only handle remodeling projects are doing a better job of communicating that expertise. Their brands are known for one primary service. Their Web sites and literature only discuss issues related to remodeling. Their photography and visuals are about transformations, not brand new creations. Their sales process is to sell that expertise. Remodelers never have to say, “We offer remodeling, too.” With the right positioning, they can get a nice profit margin instead of fighting to be the lowest bidder.

My advice to the reader from the Northeast was to come up with a completely separate name for his remodeling division. It needs to be marketed as a brand that specializes in remod-eling rather than an add-on service for his current company banner.

For his Web site as a custom home builder, he should delete the area devoted to his remodeling projects. Instead, he should put a small button on the home page that advertises that separate company name and hotlinks to those same visuals. With that, the company is now perceived as a remodeling company.

To be a good remodeler, one must sell that up front. If you are a builder who's trying to offer remodeling services, you may need to remodel your efforts and turn that division into a brand all its own. The inverse is true for a remodeling company that also builds homes. The concept can also apply to a remodeling or design/build company when it adds a handyman; windows and doors; kitchens and baths; roofing or other division.

Author Information
Doug Dwyer is president and chief stewarding officer of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen by Worldwide, one of the nation's largest remodeling franchises. He can be reached at

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