NAHB Remodelers Offer Advice on Weathering the Slowdown
In a slowing market where home owners are anxious about spending, remodeling jobs are shrinking and customers are taking more time to sign on the dotted line, some experienced remodeling professionals are offering fellow remodelers advice on how to change their business practices in order to survive.
Customers paying with cash may be the first to begin tightening their purse strings during a slowdown, said Michael Tenhulzen, CGR, CAPS, president of Tenhulzen Remodeling in Redmond, Wash. Remodelers, he said, have to begin looking toward their steady, though shrinking, customer base for jobs to get them through.
“It’s at times like these that we rely on our upper-middle-class and lower-upper-class for steady flow of design/build projects,” Tenhulzen said.
Greg Miedema, CGR, CGB, CAPS, president of Dakota Builders in Tucson, Ariz., and named the Remodelor™ of the Year four times by the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, urged remodelers to take on more smaller-scale jobs during the slowdown.
“The margin on the smaller jobs is really better,” Miedema said, while noting that he structured his company years ago to be able to handle remodeling jobs of varying sizes so he would be in a position to take advantage of boom times and slowdowns.
Finley Perry, president of F. H. Perry Builder, Inc. in Hopkinton, Mass., urged remodelers to refine their business and marketing practices.
“Now is the time to step up marketing and branding,” Perry said. “Make sure your image is clear, your messaging is on point to support the image and the image is being seen and the message heard by the targeted market.”
When looking at business practices, Perry recommended that remodelers assess everything from how to trim waste in company operations to re-evaluating employees.
Above all, he said, deliver the quality product you are selling to enhance word-of-mouth and build your reputation. Customers may have signed a contract for a specific job, but you want them to come back for more and publicize your good work because they are satisfied clients.
Remodelers should also develop working relationships with their customers, suppliers and others connected with their businesses in order to enhance word-of-mouth marketing and develop new business, the experts agreed. When networking this way, remodelers should remind their contacts about the scope and quality of their work.
Similarly, remodelers also should reach out to previous customers and offer help with maintenance projects and home upkeep.
Remind them of the services you offer and recommend projects that will help improve the value of their homes, said Alan Hanbury, CGR, CAPS, of the House of Hanbury in Newington, Conn. Find opportunities to give workshops or share information — such as hosting sessions at local libraries, community centers or home shows.
“We have also been lucky to have clients from years past that we can usually just give a call and let them know we are a little slow and if they have anything on their 'honey-do' list, we can help the hopeless man of the house get it done or the single woman without tools,” Hanbury said.
Seeking the wisdom and experience of fellow remodelers can make the difference when handling tricky economic conditions. Incorporating these business strategies can help remodelers negotiate a slower market and prepare for the next remodeling boom.
Increase Your Professional Credibility
The Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR) designation emphasizes business management skills as the key to a professional remodeling operation.
Remodelers who earn the CGR become members of an exclusive national program and gain recognition as industry leaders.
To learn more about the CGR designation, visit www.nahb.org/CGRinfo, or call The Professional Designation Help Line at 800-368-5242 x8154.
'How to Find a Professional Remodeler' Available at BuilderBooks.com
The brochure guides consumers from the dream to the reality of having their homes remodeled by skilled and trained professionals. Sections include what to look for in a professional remodeler and what questions to ask.
To view or puchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665 to order.