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Lessons Learned

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Construction Practices

Lessons Learned

Adopting a few simple business habits can make a huge difference 

June 21, 2018
This article first appeared in the June 2018 issue of Pro Remodeler.

After four decades in this industry, I have scars and bruises. I have many wins and some losses. When I consult with remodelers who are in the prime of their careers, I try to share some of the wisdom I’ve picked up along the way. 

The following are the top three lessons I’ve learned. There are many others, but it’s too much for one sitting. I encourage you to compare these to your own beliefs. Bring them up in a team meeting to help create alignment in everyone’s thinking. Or just set them aside and dust them off if you ever want some inspiration.

1] People Are Your Greatest Assets

While many remodelers agree with this idea, most don’t effectively act on it. The key word here is actually “asset,” not “people.” An asset is an investment. It has sustainability and needs care to achieve the best ROI. Here’s a few questions to consider:

A) How many hours per week are you investing in your people assets? 

B) Do you treat these assets with the same degree of care that you treat your clients? 

C) Where will these assets be in the business in the future?

If these topics aren’t top of mind, then begin to put more time and energy into the answers.

2] Know Your Numbers

Knowing your numbers is a thought process that isn’t just about reporting metrics. Numbers have no emotion, and they don’t lie. They are there to give you the answers—if you let them. You need to know the numbers to make informed business decisions. Here are a few steps to improving in this area.

A) Look at the client types, project sizes, and effectiveness of specific team members. Years ago I would give leads to a specific salesperson who I thought did well with older clients. Then I studied the numbers and realized that her real sweet spot was with younger clients. The numbers had the answers.

B) Pick five to seven key metrics to make a part of your DNA. They should be intimately understood by your team and become a topic for weekly discussion. 

C) Challenge the team to beat these numbers. Come up with incentives in areas you want to improve. Build a business culture of constantly making this number part of your planning and goals.

I encourage you to compare these to your own beliefs. Bring them up in a team meeting to help create alignment in everyone’s thinking. Or just set them aside and dust them off if you ever want some inspiration.

3] Don’t Become A Stranger to Your Clients.

When a homeowner does a remodeling project with you, there is very little commitment to come back. If you renovate a bathroom, clients see you as a bath specialist, not a remodeler who can do kitchens, too. If you create a beautiful deck, then to them you are an “outdoor living contractor,” not a remodeler who also refinishes basements. Even if your website says you do other projects, past clients don’t see you as the one to call. This sounds strange, but it has been proven through focus groups.

A) The close rate with past clients is three to four times greater than with new leads. By focusing on former customers (which most remodelers say they don’t have time to do) you can increase your sales dramatically while saving time and stress. 

B) We all talk about “clients for life.” Are they really? If you don’t keep in touch, are you staying true to this theme? About 30 years ago I adopted a simple technique that I named “a call a day.” I called one past client every day just to say hello and stay relevant in his or her mind. Today, I use the same technique with professional and personal relationships. It doesn’t take much time, but the ROI is huge. 

Try to leverage these lessons. If you can build off them and avoid potholes created from the mistakes, you have a chance to dramatically increase your success rate.

written by

Mark Richardson


Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at mrichardson@mgrichardson.com or 301.275.0208.

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