September 2004 Table of Contents

Featured Articles
Down to Business

Are your sales presentations down? Do you find yourself in a long selling cycle? Do you wear out your welcome in your customer's home? Read more

The Workers' Comp Crisis The Workers' Comp Crisis

This year, State Roofing will spend just under $280,000 on premiums for workers' compensation insurance to cover its 140 employees -- $200,000 of that for the 60 who install. The Monroe, Wash., company buys that coverage through a fund run by the state's Department of Labor and Industry, which Lance Smith, State's president, says is very difficult to work with. Read more


Losses due to check fraud exceed $13 billion a year. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Employee theft costs U.S. businesses $40 billion a year, according to the Department of Commerce. And fraud and abuse account for $400 billion annually, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. In a 2002 survey, Ernst & Young pegged the total at 20% of every dollar earned. Read more

Whole-Hearted Half-Timers

It just about killed Ken Moeslein when one of his best salesmen said he was quitting to go to college. The president of Pittsburgh-based Swingline Windows supported his employee 100% because he places a high value on education. But it didn't make it any easier to contemplate the idea of his leaving. So instead, Moeslein offered him a part-time position as sales manager to lure him back. Read more

Willing But Unable, Part 1

Imagine a graph on a wall. On the vertical side we're plotting "Will To Work." Most humans naturally have a high sense of "Will to Work" when they're in the right environment. Even the laziest people are capable of getting passionate about something. Read more

Manage The Details Manage The Details

Our Replacement Contractor of the Year is a company that enjoys taking chances while leaving little to chance. Read more

Opportunity Knocks

Service calls to previous jobs are likely the most reviled aspect of the home improvement business. In addition to the potential damage to your reputation, they cost time, money, materials, and the profit opportunity lost while your installers are working on old business rather than new. Read more

Money in the Bank

Every signed contract carries with it the peril of cancellation. But you can cut down on cancellations by requiring deposits on scheduled work. In some states, laws regulate the amount you can ask for, so minimum deposits vary. The transaction signals a customer's seriousness, according to replacement contractors. Read more

Plan for Leads

Marketing in this industry means finding ways to get people to respond -- creating opportunities to make presentations and ultimately to sell a fair percentage of the respondents. Leads are the lifeblood of a business, and a large, successful home improvement company is usually a "lead factory." Read more

It's a Match

Telemarketing is on the wane. Newspapers keep raising their ad rates. An inexpensive source of leads is a godsend, and that's exactly what Internet referral services aim to provide. It's kind of like They offer replacement contractors the chance to meet their perfect counterpart, although in this case the purpose is strictly business. Read more

Air Time

Television can be the centerpiece of your lead generation effort, or it can be an expensive disappointment. It acts as the former for Unique Window & Door, in Indianapolis. The company spends 40% of its annual marketing budget buying air time, some $60,000 a month, 50 weeks a year, says Bob Dillon, president and owner. Television advertising generates close to 50% of sales, he adds. Read more

Pants on Fire

To safeguard against the fallout from deceptive salespeople, replacement contractors need to have clearly communicated and fairly enforced policies and procedures that address dishonesty. Read more

First Time's The Charm

Say you're buying a car. After a lot of conversation, you decide on the model you want with the options you want. At that point, you turn to the salesman and say: "Take your time. Get it to me whenever you can." Read more

Premiums Can Prevail

Home improvement contractors don't like to be maneuvered into "low-bid-takes-it" situations. But in a world of big box retailers selling mostly on price, and contractors advertising that they'll give estimates over the phone, encountering consumers with a lowest price fixation is inevitable. Read more

Padded Cladding Four by Four : Siding Padded Cladding

Dan Brouillet, owner of Great Lakes Window & Siding, in Apple Valley, Minn., started his company nine years ago to sell siding that comes with field-applied contoured foam backing to fill all the space between wall and panel. Read more

Seeing Green Seeing Green

Copper as a construction material is more common than you might think. Used for gutters, downspouts, and ornamental details such as caps and weather vanes, copper adds an elegant touch to the exterior of any house. Read more

Measure Twice, and Maybe a Third Time

Buying the wrong window or door because you measured the opening incorrectly is likely to be a costly mistake. Buying a second window to replace it is just the beginning. You've got to send a crew back to the job again, and you will see payment delayed by 30 to 60 days. Read more

All Screwed Up

A year ago, Pat Nicholson, owner of Deckmasters, a Pittsburgh-based deck building franchise with eight branches, called his treated wood supplier and the manufacturer of the fasteners his company uses into a meeting. There, the contractor dumped a bucket of rusted and corroded wood screws onto the table and demanded to know what the manufacturer intended to do about the problem of fastener degradation. When the assurances he was seeking were not forthcoming, Nicholson switched fastener suppliers. He's since changed fastener lines several more times. Read more

Don't Call Us

Are you still telemarketing to generate business? Lots of companies are. Cold calling remains a major lead source at home improvement operations of all sizes. And many companies that once relied on cold calling for leads have converted the phone to "warm call" uses. Read more

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