Trade Secrets: How a Remodeler Showed Neighbors He Cared while He Marketed His Business

This month's Trade Secrets covers a remodeler's creative marketing approach; ways to find time to give back; and clients' shift to saving green for their wallet and the earth.

April 30, 2009

This month's Trade Secrets covers a remodeler's creative marketing approach and clients' shift to saving green for their wallet and the earth.

Sweeping the Neighborhood

Almost every remodeler tries to land more projects from the neighbors of the homes on which they’re working.

But Cruickshank Remodeling has come up with a more memorable way to get those potential customers’ attention than a simple “Pardon our Dust” letter.

Instead, the Atlanta-based design/build and home repair company has purchased high-quality, corn-bristle brooms and brands each one with a Cruickshank Remodeling decal. Company employees leave those on the doorstep of adjacent houses along with a letter telling them about the company and apologizing for any mess. The envelope reads “A Broom is our Most Important Tool.”

The idea was the brainchild of company president and founder Brad Cruickshank.

“We’re trying to convey the message that we’re the remodeler who cares and cleans up,” Cruickshank says. “My thought is it’s a gift that has residual value. It’s a whole lot better than another brochure in the mailbox.”

Cruickshank has been using the brooms for about six months and has gotten a positive response out of it. It’s just another way the company is trying to be creative in its marketing to capture business in this declining market, Cruickshank says.

Cruickshank Remodeling had also started sending the brooms out to past clients, with a revised message, to drum up repeat and referral business. It’s too soon to say if those efforts will be successful, but Cruickshank says he figures it’s a good way to stand out from other remodelers.

It’s also a good way to get the message out as Cruickshank tries to make sure customers know the company is not just a high-end design/build firm but will also tackle smaller projects, including maintenance and repair services.

Filling Time by Giving Back

It’s easy to take a “woe is me” approach to business in these days of declining remodeling spending and lighter job schedules.

Roland Younger, president of Living Improvements in Stafford, Texas, decided to take advantage of his company’s slow time earlier this year to do some good in his local community.

The biggest project the company undertook was helping to remodel a local church, of which Younger was a member, that needed two new classrooms.

Living Improvements worked as the general contractor for no charge on the five-week-long project. Stafford and his staff produced the plans and schedules; supervised the site; and ordered all the materials. The company donated labor from its employees and also utilized community volunteers. With Living Improvement’s contributions, the addition cost the church less than $200,000, saving it more than $150,000 on the project, Younger says.

“It was a way to keep busy and also help out at the same time,” Younger says.

Living Improvements also worked on smaller projects in the community. Stafford called on elderly residents in the company’s neighborhood to see if they needed help with any projects around their homes.

“If they needed some work done, we sent one of our guys over there to take care of it,” Younger says.

Johnathan Sweet
Senior Editor

The company worked on a number of maintenance projects for the neighbors, providing the work at cost or below cost.

With business now picking up in the Houston area, the charitable projects were a good way to fill a short-term gap in the schedule, Younger says.

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