February 2008 Table of Contents

Featured Articles
Half Full

I define a full-service remodeling company as one that does a broad range of projects, interior and exterior, everything from decks to whole-house remodels. Most can do small, medium, and large projects. Read more

Clause and Effect

Reviewing and revising your company's contract puts into writing what you've learned from your mistakes. Read more

Train and Pain Train and Pain

Twenty years ago, the most successful home improvement companies -- Pacesetter, Sears Roebuck, AMRE -- had a sales meeting every day, five days a week. With their sales exploding, those companies, for a time, ruled the home improvement industry. Read more

Feed the Need Feed the Need

John Dunbar used to focus on the project, not the prospect. That was four years ago, when he began selling home improvements full-time. Read more

When it Rains When it Rains

Not long after Bob Priest bought Burr Roofing 21 years ago, he found himself at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Darien, Conn. A local funeral director stepped forward to introduce himself. "You know, Bob," he said, "our businesses are very much alike. It isn't a matter of if, it's just a matter of when." Read more

The Labor Loop

Three years ago, A.B.E. Doors & Windows, in Allentown, Pa., discovered -- through employee surveys conducted by an outside consulting company -- that production crews felt the amount of labor in the jobs they were handed was sometimes inaccurately estimated. Read more

Trust But Verify Trust But Verify

When it comes to company credit cards, many home improvement contractors take as their operating principle the old poker adage: "Trust everybody and always cut the cards." Read more

Great Expectations

After the sale, service can be one of your most effective lead generators and sales tools or it can be a major problem. How you handle the job -- from the beginning to the end -- is the key. Read more

Name It Name It

Think your company's name is unique? It may or may not be. But right now, if you keyed "Best Roofing" into Google, 70,400 items would turn up. Read more

Making It Pay Making It Pay

Scott Young has had a referral program for about 10 years that, depending on the size of the project, pays installers $25 to $125 for every lead that results in a sale. Read more

Point By Point Point By Point

Sir Home Improvements is holding its own in a challenging market, in part through a referral rewards program that has energized staff and customers. Read more

Make No Mistake

You can get a lot more bang for your marketing buck with this simple procedure. Read more

Repeat Performance Repeat Performance

Previous customers can be a great source of new business. But be careful not to burn them out on your marketing efforts. Read more

What It's Worth

Many home improvement company owners pride themselves on knowing their fully loaded marketing costs. They should. The difference between, say, the 6% you may think is your fully loaded cost and the 9% it Read more

Bona Fide 'No'

No salesman wants to hear the word "no" from a prospect. Happily, few homeowners want to come right out and say it either, at least in so many words. Read more

I, We, My

You're running a lead. You're at the home, about to meet face-to-face with the prospect. What are you going to say? Read more

Run Ragged Run Ragged

Selling home improvements has never been a five-day, 40-hour-a-week proposition. Most home improvement salespeople work five-and-a-half to six days a week. However, the way their workload is spread through the week varies from company to company. Read more

Either/Or Either/Or

There's a soft spot on the roof so that re-roofing will include replacing some sheathing. But with what? Two materials are commonly used, plywood and oriented strandboard, or OSB. Read more

Sunroom Step Up Sunroom Step Up

Conservatories and sunrooms have many more similarities than differences. They're both "sun spaces." Unless it's a custom-designed product, both types of manufactured units are built using modular systems of similar materials. Read more

Deal Me In Deal Me In

Thousands of companies across the U.S. install vinyl replacement windows, and dozens of manufacturers are happy to be their suppliers. But during the last decade, a number of companies have found a different way to go to market: direct buying combined with heavy price promotion of windows that are of comparable quality to windows sold at midrange price points. Read more

Extra, Extra Extra, Extra

In the dog-eat-dog siding market, contractors are always looking for something extra to set their jobs apart and distinguish them from the competition. Read more

Downturn Turnaround

Kermit Baker is a senior research fellow and director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, Read more

Shake It Up

Were your sales flat, or less than flat, in 2007? Don't feel left out. Many home improvement companies had a difficult year. Leads cost more and were harder to come by. Sales were off. Competitors, who formerly worked in new construction, appeared. Consumers grew more wary in their spending. Read more

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