Credit: Illustration: Ryan Snook

Last year 30% of Capizzi Home Improvement's $3.68 million in sales resulted from additional work that was contracted once the initial job had begun. The reason is simple, says Tom Capizzi Jr., owner of the Cotuit, Mass., company: his production managers recognize and suggest that work, and they are compensated with half the commission. Generating additional work ? "not leaving anything on the table" ? is part of the company's culture.

Rapport Sets The Stage

At a time when many more customers pay cash and jobs are harder to sell, Capizzi concedes that it's more difficult to get change orders. He attributes the fact that his "change order kings" are bringing in as much new business as they ever were to their skill at developing customer rapport, recognizing situations on the property that might need attention, and to the company's policy of reducing home­owner anxiety with many satisfactory touch-points.

"Barriers come down as we actually do the things promised by our salespeople," he says. And it is production staff rather than salespeople who suggest additional work because they're the ones dealing directly with homeowners throughout the project. Change orders can range from the $90,000 roofing/siding/window combo job that came to include a $70,000 garage, to $3,000 worth of chimney work added to a roofing job.

Conquering Timidity

Home improvement sales and marketing consultant Tony Hoty says sales reps should "always bring up" additional work and offer to price it. What holds salespeople back, he says, is stepping out of the comfort zone of a project and a price they're used to ? and fear of losing the sale. But, he notes, that aged roof you're pointing out may prove to be a greater priority for the homeowner than the windows you're actually there for. "So when I present the price," Hoty says, "I'm going to put together a price to take care of all [the homeowner's] needs."

He recommends that someone in the company ? a measure tech or even someone coming out to the house with loan documents ? be designated to spot and suggest additional work. "Figure out who should do it, resolve the territorial issues and boundaries, and determine compensation," Hoty advises.

One key component of building add-on sales is a wants and needs survey ? conducted before the presentation actually begins ? that includes information about potential future projects. That info can go directly into a database and supply the marketing department with a basis for future calls.