February 2006 Table of Contents

Featured Articles
What Does a Lead Cost?

When it comes to determining lead costs, especially by type of lead, most home improvement company owners don't have accurate data. Why not? They don't have a process for giving them that information. And without a process to tell you how much each lead costs, it's difficult to develop a productive and affordable marketing mix and the budget that goes with it. Read more

Killer Contracts

Sales contracts get no respect. They're signed every day. Sometimes with changes scribbled in that could cause trouble. Sometimes with prices that are flat out wrong. And sometimes with boilerplate language that doesn't say what you think it says. Read more

I Object!

The prospects are serious, but they're also a little wary and obviously nervous. They've given you several reasons why they shouldn't be buying this job tonight. But you're still there. And they're still there. They've listened and asked questions. They appear to be on the verge -- the very edge -- of signing. But suddenly they exchange glances, one or the other leans back into the sofa, or they shake their heads just slightly and say � Read more

Brand New Brand New

Strong marketing, commitment to quality, and a cohesive plan add up to a roofing company with a valuable commodity: a local brand. Read more

Service Game

Callbacks are inevitable. They can be the bane of your business or a part of your strategy. Read more

Car Show

The way that companies provide vehicles and vehicle allowances varies from one business to the next almost as much as the vehicles themselves. Where reps are independent contractors, companies tend to offer no vehicle allowance (or any other kind of benefit), because reps are expected to pay their own cost of sales. Read more

Show Your Stuff

Some salespeople say that every home improvement transaction comes down to price. Do you believe that? Or is it simply a self-fulfilling prophecy of sales personnel who don't understand why the consumer buys? Read more

Disastrous Prices

Hurricane Katrina reminded contractors that price increases -- sudden, unavoidable, and steep -- could easily be brought on by product shortages arising from a natural disaster. And with the price of vinyl, asphalt, and other materials associated with exterior remodeling projects rising, no specialty contractor anywhere escaped rising product costs in 2005. Read more

Keen On Truckin' Keen On Truckin'

When employees of Taylor Made, the second largest Owens Corning basement finishing franchise in the country, located in Edgewood, Md., deliver materials, they show up in a trailer 8 feet tall and 16 feet long that's fully wrapped in graphics showing a finished basement, along with the manufacturer's logo. Read more

Mail Bonding

Planning a direct mail piece? Here are some important points to remember. Read more

And You Can Quote Me

Some contractors include a half-dozen letters of endorsement from satisfied clients in their pitch book. That's nothing to Gary Schoengold, president of National Energy Conservation Corp. in Olney, Md. He includes about 140 letters and notes, culled from the several thousand he's received during the 21 years his siding and window company has been in business. Read more

Top-Notch Recruits

When his company's closing rate isn't what he'd like it to be, Camille Saleh, corporate sales manager for Cincinnati-based Champion Window, sometimes gets the urge to run a help-wanted ad for new salespeople. But for more than three years, he's resisted that urge, primarily because Champion, like some other contractors, continues to have luck recruiting through referrals from current employees. Read more


Sometimes, in the middle of a presentation, with both homeowners present, one or the other buying party suddenly gets up and leaves. This can happen for any one of a number of reasons. Read more

Peace of Mind

It's a fact of life that truck-and-ladder companies are going to underbid you. Their sharpest weapon is price. You can counterattack with value, a key part of which is your workers' comp and liability insurance. Read more

Roof to Road

More than 11 million tons of asphalt shingles enter U.S. landfills yearly. One source suggests that roofing debris may make up as much as 10% of U.S. landfills. But the difference between asphalt shingles and much of what otherwise goes in those landfills is that shingles don't decompose at the same rate. They're stuck there. Read more

Pay to Play? Pay to Play?

Brian Altmann, owner of Dutchess Building Specialists in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., never used to leave deck plans with prospects, who might turn them over to another, less expensive, builder. Read more

Get It Straight

You're done with the siding job, but something's not right. The problem? It isn't laying flat to the wall. And if you think the customer's going to notice and say something, you're probably right. A properly installed siding job, whether vinyl or fiber cement, should lay flat and look great for years to come. Read more

Hot Buttons

A round the country this winter, consumers are getting hammered with double-digit increases in the cost of natural gas and heating oil. Along with the energy savings tax credit effective Jan. 1 of this year, that could mean a lot of opportunity for window replacement contractors. Read more

Find out who made this year's The Replacement 100!
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