Criner said that he won’t let his company grow beyond the point where “I can no longer have face-to-face conversations with my clients. They’re buying into me and my personality.”
“Smaller companies look upon larger companies with some disdain,” he added, “but there’s no reason to. A lot of small companies give a pathetic level of service, but small companies can do better than large companies because there are no levels of bureaucracy.”
Criner also advised remodelers to “pick the jobs that are good for your company.” However, because of his company’s small size, almost everything he does comes from repeat business and referrals, so if he does a bathroom remodeling job for someone and the next week they want gutters, “which is not the most profitable job,” he takes it anyway.
“It’s very difficult to walk away from a customer who’s coming back for another job.”
Sal Ferro, president of Alure Home Improvements Inc. in East Meadows, NY, expects his 57-year-old company to rack up more than $25 million in sales this year, which makes it one of the nation’s biggest remodelers.
Ferro, along with two other owners, uses about 100 workers, including 22 sales people and 50 who are on the installation crew or trade contractors, to do jobs in three divisions: kitchens and baths; home improvements, such as siding, windows and roofing; and basements.
He said his company has been able to grow by looking for new opportunities. For example, he got in on the ground floor of a new basement finishing system from Owens-Corning that will bring in $7.2 million in sales this year.
“Leverage the existing customer you have to get into the new area,” said Ferro.
Customer satisfaction is a top concern for Ferro, and he provides “Raving Fans®” training from Ken Blanchard for all of his employees.
“Our goal is to create a raving fan for every single job,” said Ferro. At the end of every job, customers are asked to complete a “Raving Fans®” survey, and the company is achieving a customer satisfaction rating of 9.2 out of 10.
The company has a management team in place to increase volume in existing areas and to “tell us what’s next,” he said. The goal is always to net 6%-8% in profits, but some jobs can bring in more than 10%.
“Small is not for everyone,” says Ferro. “If you want to double or triple your income and want financial freedom for yourself and others, you’re going to have to grow.”
Ferro said that being at the helm of a large company has enabled him to improve his quality of life, not have to worry about being away from work because of a serious illness, plan for his retirement and be proud of his achievements on behalf of the industry and his community.
He said he derives special satisfaction from “helping to nurture other people” in the company and build the next level of its leadership.
In those departments, Criner said, Ferro’s “got nothing on me, except more money.”
BuilderBooks.com's 'The Paper Trail' Offers Tips for Remodelers
"The Paper Trail: Systems and Forms for a Well-Run Remodeling Company," available through BuiderBooks.com, provides remodelers with the six crucial systems they need to improve their business. "The Paper Trail" provides over 200 pages of forms, formats, checklists and other documents that make these systems work and encourages readers to rethink their own business process and systems. To view or purchase this publication, click here, or call 800-223-2665 to order.
BuilderBooks.com also offers a variety of publications for small builders and remodelers. To view or purchase these publications online, click here.
University of Housing Offers Courses and Designation Programs
The NAHB University of Housing offers a variety of business management courses and professional designation programs that set builders and remodelers apart from the competition. For a complete list of current offerings, click here.
'PREP: Your First Step to CGR' offered at IBS
PREP is your first step to becoming a Certified Graduate Remodelor™ (CGR). For more information on PREP offerings at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 18 and 22, click here.
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