February 2005 Table of Contents

Featured Articles
Build Bridges, Not Walls

Many home improvement companies face an ongoing challenge: resolving the conflict between sales and installation. Installers blame salespeople for selling poorly; sales blames installation for screwing up jobs. A divide between these two departments will affect both employees and customers, resulting in a lot of frustration for both. And without a happy and satisfied customer, you're unlikely to earn a referral. Read more

All-American Hand-Off All-American Hand-Off

Mike Satran is proud of his children. Shelley and Brad Satran aren't just any kids working in the family business. Both graduated from Oregon universities with higher than 3.5 grade-point averages. Both attended college on full-tuition athletic scholarships. Both were named All-American athletes --Brad as a wide receiver, Shelley as a track star. "How many All-Americans do you know?" asks their dad. "And I have two kids who were All-Americans." Read more

Decked Out

Many do-it-yourselfers learn upon encountering insurmountable obstacles mid-project, and as many Peter Pickup-type contractors discover in the process of going out of business by the thousands each year, making money designing and building decks isn't all that simple. Read more

The The

Until last May, no one at Lyons Roofing in Phoenix could communicate fluently with the 35 Hispanic workers who account for 55% of the company's field crew. That's when this 12-year-old business, which generates 65% of its 4 million in sales from residential projects, hired Mary Silva as its office secretary. Read more

Say It in Spanish

If the U.S. economy continues to grow at 3% per year -- the consistent average since 1948 -- the nation's workforce must increase by 58 million employees over the next three decades to maintain the same rate of productivity. Read more

Snow Patrol

Many replacement companies wrestle with the problem of how to bring in revenue during winter, when working on the exterior of the house becomes difficult or impossible in many parts of the country. Some emphasize indoor jobs such as refacing cabinets; some put crews to work plowing driveways in an effort to avoid layoffs and keep cash flowing in. Some years ago, management at Bellows Falls, Vt.-based Jancewicz & Son, which specializes in standing seam roofs, hit on the idea of offering to shovel snow. Off the top of the house. Read more

Happy Anniversary

Some people celebrate an anniversary with roses and champagne. Tri-State Home Improvement, in Branford, Conn., celebrates with an inspection. On the fifth anniversary of job completion, the home improvement contractor gives every past customer a free once-over, with the promise that Tri-State will fix any problem. Read more

Canceled Cancellations

Originally titled Federal Trade Commission Rule 429, the law governing recision wasn't intended to be a satisfaction guarantee or "buyer's remorse" insurance program. It was intended to correct the problem of sales obtained through deceptive or high-pressure tactics. Read more

Permit Required

Although many cities and towns in the United States require canvassing permits, enforcement of statutes has been spotty, say contractors. One company owner in Idaho notes that in his market, while canvassers don't need an actual permit, "they ask us to check in with the sheriff's office." Read more

Hire a Pro

I recently hired someone for an important position. It looks good; I'm pleased with the potential this person brings to our company. The odd thing is she had a good job and was happy there. I found her through an employment agency. Read more

Penalty Phase

It's been a week since that contract was signed, and the customer's on the phone, insisting she wants to back out of it. Do you chase that business or move on to the next opportunity? Read more

Pane Management

California contractor Bill Robinson has a sure-fire way to determine whether or not a window should stay. If it isn't working, it's out. Read more

Ask Around

Generating leads for decks is an ongoing challenge for those in the business. Like sunrooms, decks are a luxury project for customers, rather than something like a leaking roof, which must be attended to immediately. Ask David Bielicki, owner of Decks Atlanta. Read more

The Dripping News

When clients call to report a leaking roof, they want answers -- and repairs -- fast. Here are a few pointers on the likeliest causes of leaky roofs. Read more

Blind Sided

Unlike roofing or windows, where obvious product differences exist, consumers often think of vinyl siding as a generic product. There's little or no brand awareness and, in the homeowner's eyes, not much to distinguish one panel from the next. Not much, that is, except price. And when the price starts dropping, the profits drop right along with it. Read more

Referred Preferred

The sales force clamors for leads, but leads -- good leads, at least -- have sharply escalated in cost. Wonder why? There are lots of reasons. Read more

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