More and more, people are integrating technology into their lives. From Baby Boomers through Millennials, technology has become a central part of our lives. This trend is evident in the way we communicate, our entertainment, and our work. It is essential that remodelers keep track of the different ways technology can keep their businesses cutting-edge (or at least current) as well as more accessible and efficient in communicating with their clients.
However, you have to make sure the product or service you plan on using will be beneficial to you and your clients. You can do that by polling past clients for input, asking your staff what would help them, and always ask yourself—remodelers are homeowners, too.
Finally, once you choose a product or service to integrate into your process, set an evaluation date far enough out to look back and determine if the product is worthwhile and should be kept.
Present your company before your first meeting. Most companies have evolved from a flip-book presentation to a PowerPoint on a laptop or tablet.
However, after a full day of presentations and meetings, homeowners may tune out of a 20-minute (or more) commercial for you and your process. Convert your PowerPoint presentation into a video or a series of videos. Current versions, as well as some previous versions of PowerPoint, have this ability within the program. There is also third-party “converter” software available if you need it. Limit the duration of each video to five minutes. Present these videos in a pre-meeting email, encouraging all parties to view them prior to the meeting.
Once you are at the initial meeting, you can discuss which parts of your process are most important to them, and how you are different from other companies in your area. Keep copies of the videos on your laptop or tablet for in-home viewing, in case someone did not see them prior to the meeting.
Connect with your prospective clients socially through Houzz, Facebook, and Twitter. Having an understanding of their design ideas, as well as their social interaction, can help you create a solution for their needs.
In addition, the more they are familiar with you and your business before you meet them, the more comfortable they will be when they first meet you, leading to a quicker decision to move forward with you as their remodeler.
Post-sale or retainer
Up-to-date communication with a client is essential from the time the project is being developed all the way through final cleanup. Products like BuilderTREND can help you manage schedules, changes, photos/documents, subcontractors, and client selections. A client can log into the system and review, add, or update information.
Available for a monthly subscription based on the number or projects you perform, it is a robust tool that will require training and establishing in-house procedures to maximize effectiveness.
For a lower cost alternative, look to shared folder options such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft SkyDrive (One Drive). Create a main client folder and sub folders for selections, documents, photos, plans, etc. Share the folders with your client for complete interaction. They have a much lower monthly cost but lack an automated management system.
On the job
Change orders bring in additional revenue to your company, but they slow the projects down, delay completion, and postpone the start of the next project. Getting changes approved and completed quickly is essential. There are several photo-to-PDF converter apps available for Android and Apple phones. Project managers can fill out a change or addendum, photograph the form, and convert it to a PDF. A copy of the form and a picture of the area requiring additional work can be emailed to the client for approval. The information can also be uploaded to the shared folder or management software from a smartphone or tablet.
I am a firm believer in client meetings during the project’s progress; however, clients cannot always get home for work at a convenient time for you or your project lead. FaceTime for iPhone, Google Hangouts, and Skype are ways to meet with your client visually while you are still on the jobsite and can show them specific areas of the project through your smartphone or tablet. Conversely, you can save several trips to the home during off-hour times by using these services.
Technology can help your company become more efficient and improve your client’s experience; however, do not rely solely on technology to manage your projects. Personal interaction is extremely important in our business. Your tone cannot be communicated through an email, and a handshake cannot be given through a video chat.
Be sure to include consistent personal interaction in your process and for when issues arise. You, your client, and your business will all benefit from this practice. PR
Jason Parsons is a remodeling project designer for Design Build Pros, which provides in-home sales services throughout N.J., eastern Pa., and remote design services nationally. Parsons can be reached at 800.451.2066 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Parsons on Twitter @jpremodeler.