|Rod Sutton's Editorial Archives|
If you’ve been reading the series on e-construction written by HousingZone’s project and development manager, Todd Shraiberg, you may be wondering how the remodeler will fit into this brave new world. It’s pretty heady stuff.
I’ve been listening to the hypotheses, watching the dot-coms, and talking with remodelers who have visions of the e-future. Todd’s idea that the builder will become the gate-keeper in the residential construction market, though, started me thinking about his ideas of how the remodeler fits into the e-construction.
If, as Todd suggests, new home builders create e-commerce opportunities through the wiring and hardware installed in their "community intranets," and, as Todd suggests, these builders partner with remodelers in these ventures, remodelers have some thinking to do. Todd suggests that mortgage lenders, lawn care providers and home security companies will partner with new home builders to create a network of home services. The builder would, then, take a percentage of those sales revenues as the "provider."
The question: Will remodelers be a part of this scenario? Should they?
Todd’s idea makes a lot of sense. And if home services networks do evolve, it’s only logical that remodeling companies be invited as partners. The answer, as with most of these truly vexing questions, is what is right for the individual remodeling company?
There seems to be a split in the industry when it comes to discussing how the Internet will affect the way remodelers do business. Nobody doubts that it will affect them, especially as the consumer becomes more of a driving force. She uses it.You had better know what she’s using it for and be prepared to deal with her "information" gathering. (The fact that you’re reading this column means you’re already well ahead of other remodelers. It’s only available on-line.)
But beyond knowing what’s on the Net, how do you use it to market your company? Should you have a website of your own? Do you register with any, all or none of the referral services?
At the bare minimum, a remodeling company should have a web site that functions as a 24/7 presentation book. It should include contact information, project photography, client letters and anything else that the company uses in its in-home presentation. Consumers who’ve heard of the company--through a web search of by referral--can then find basic marketing and promotional material at their convenience.
The second level of the marketing question, and the referral services question, can be best answered by considering the following: Does the remodeling company depend on a constant influx of new leads? If so, then a referral service is a natural next step. Such services do a certain amount of prequalification, and their leads should be of high quality. Regarding the website, then a prequalification form should be included online. In addition, the site should be designed to come to the top of online searches.
Back to Todd. If a new home builder approaches you to join a "community intranet," you have to consider how your company does--or wants to do--business. If you’re searching for steady, qualified leads in a specific market area, the idea has real merit. Your firm, as a member of the "community," will have a preferred spot. That spot will give you an advantage when those neighbors start adding decks, bumping out kitchens, or needing to add screen doors.
If your company does not rely on large numbers of fresh leads, then the community may not be for you. A remodeling firm that does a majority of its business in repeat and referral business may have enough future business lined up.
It’s an interested scenario. In either case, there are plenty of households in America that will be demanding remodeling over the next decades. How the professional remodeler connects with the wired home owner will continue to vary according to each remodeling company’s marketing strategy. But be assured, the Internet will play a major role. The forward-thinking company will continually be looking for ways to take advantage of this new medium.
Todd and I--as well as other editors contributing to HousingZone--will continue to evaluate the new e-landscape. We’d appreciate your opinions and observations, too. Click on the names at the bottom of any contributor’s piece and send us an e-mail. We’d love to hear from you.
Rod Sutton is the Editor-in-Chief for Professional Remodler. Please email him with any comments or questions regarding his column.