May/June 2008 Table of Contents

Featured Articles
Bricks Without Straw

Home improvement companies come and go. Most, in fact, go within five years. Typically, for two reasons: They run their businesses on cash deposits instead of installed work that's been paid for, and they fail to budget for service, not understanding that the more work you install, the more service calls you're going to make. Read more

Train to Retain Train to Retain

Conventional wisdom has long held that salespeople go where the leads are. But as business conditions soften and the lead flow slows at many companies, contractors must find other ways to keep their best reps from straying. A growing number of companies see a correlation between the depth and breadth of training that salespeople receive and their longevity. Read more


At a time when many home improvement companies see their sales sliding backward, Renewal by Andersen of Colorado Springs and Denver, our Replacement Contractor of the Year, posted a sales increase of almost 26% last year. How do they do it? Read more

Me, Myself, and I Me, Myself, and I

D.S. Berenson, an attorney who specializes in home improvement companies and their legal woes, tells his clients never to do business as a sole proprietor. About 10 years ago, a client of Berenson's did some roofing work on a house. Read more

First Impression First Impression

When people who have seen one of its ads call Lifetyme Exteriors, in Boston, the call is recorded. Though this is not a widespread practice in the home improvement industry, it's a growing trend among U.S. businesses generally. Read more

Without a Net

The Internet has become a primary resource for consumers considering home improvements. If you don't have a Web site, consumers can't find you. Read more

Grow Your Own Grow Your Own

When Peter Valdez, operations manager at Interstate Roofing, in Portland, Ore., has to find a production manager -- he currently has nine -- he looks no further than the ranks of his own company. Read more

Booth Duty Booth Duty

Many home improvement companies consider event marketing to be a major lead source. Event leads, for instance, make up nearly a third of the total for Weather Tight Corp., in Franklin, Wis. With that much on the line, crafting the best way to use and compensate event staff has become a priority for the company. Read more

Right This Way Right This Way

There's nothing you could give Kip Lee to get him to stop offering a discount to customers who appear on his showroom doorstep. "Our closing percentage almost doubles -- it's more than 50% -- when consumers come to the showroom," says the owner of Coastal Empire Exteriors, in Savannah, Ga. Read more

In Good Company

It's easy to think that winning in marketing is about being better at marketing. But great marketing starts way before the copywriter warms up his laptop or media negotiations begin. Great marketing starts with the product or service itself. Read more

Get Set Get Set

You have the name and address of someone who has an interest in your company's products or services. How far out should you schedule an appointment? Read more

Leap of Faith Leap of Faith

This spring, a carpenter and gutter protection installer for Callen Construction, in Muskego, Wis., applied to be a sales rep. Owner Tom Callen felt apprehensive, he recalls, when the five-year employee told him he wanted to change positions. Read more

Faux Paws Faux Paws

Here's a sure way to lose a sale: Show that you're irritated by the homeowners' pets. Read more

Stop Whining, Start Selling

Times are tough and we're going to hell in a hand-basket. Think that's true? The media seems to. And so might your customers. Read more

Your Final Answer? Your Final Answer?

No salesman wants to hear the word "no." And few homeowners, it seems, want to say it either, at least in so many words. Read more

Mechanically Inclined Mechanically Inclined

How long does it take to train a rookie to install replacement windows? Doug Cook, president of Feldco, in Chicago, suggests four to six weeks, followed by three months with an experienced installer. Read more

Quick Fix Quick Fix

Wood rot, termites, leaning frames, bowed walls, and weather can all cause problems on a siding job. However, most are at least as easy to avoid as they are to solve, contractors say. Read more

Wall-To-Window (or Door) Wall-To-Window (or Door)

I can't tell you how many jobs I've done where the scope and complexity increased enormously after hearing the homeowner utter this seemingly harmless phrase: "You know, we were thinking ..." A new deck can be a gateway project for customers: Once they see how awesome it is, their creative juices start flowing and you start talking about add-ons. Read more

Green and Growing Green and Growing

Recently, a prospective customer of American Custom Contractors, in Rockville, Md., wanted to know if the company would recycle the shingles torn from her roof rather than send them to the landfill. Read more

Good-Bye 'Buy or Die'?

Jim Venable is president and CEO of Window Depot USA, a low-cost window replacement company headquartered in Little Rock, Ark. Read more

Service Sells

The company featured on our cover this month is one of five businesses nominated by consultants and top contractors to be our Replacement Contractor of the Year. All five posted double-digit sales gains last year and over the course of the previous five years. Any of them would be worthy of a cover profile. Read more

Why Consider Offering Financing... Why Consider Offering Financing...

In this Web seminar, co-founder of the Residential Design/Build Institute and former director of education for a national K and B remodeling franchise Shawn McCadden explains how to improve your business with tips to acquire more qualified leads, close deals, and help customers move into their dream homes at an affordable price. Read more

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