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.
Bielicki, a former engineer, started his business three years ago, and 85% of his jobs involve decks. He's already learned to tap a number of sources to build his company — for instance, partnering with contractors in related businesses. Bielicki works with a deck-cleaning company whose owner is often asked if he builds decks. That owner refers such requests to Decks Atlanta. Bielicki, in turn, refers customers to the deck cleaner. In addition, Bielicki also makes a point of finding subcontractors to do related specialty work —such as landscaping or concrete — that his customers want but that he can't provide for them. In that way, he is able to avoid turning away jobs.
Similarly, Down Home Construction —where 85% of jobs are decks — gets a lot of referrals from its lumberyard, says president Joe Hay. Forty-five percent of their leads come from referrals.
The Garden City, Mich., company also generates business from its sponsorship of youth hockey teams, its Web site, and traditional yellow pages ads.
SECOND COMING Repeat business makes for a substantial amount of the work in the deck industry. Twenty percent of business is repeat at Pittsburgh-based Deckmasters Technologies, which does about 65% of total sales in decks and the rest in porches and sunrooms. Owner Pat Nicholson says the company goes back to add on to decks, roof them, or screen or glass them.
Down Home Construction also reports a lot of repeat business, which it credits to the many on-the-move professionals in its market.
GROWTH SPURTS Stacy Shamblin, owner of Archadeck of Austin, does 60% of his business in decks, gazebos, and pergolas. “We've had to diversify,” he says, and the company's done that by promoting itself as a builder of backyard living spaces, kitchen islands, fireplaces, roof tie-ins, and porches.
Meanwhile, booming Bozeman, Mont., keeps Bozeman Deck so busy that in 2004 the company didn't offer the 10% discount it used to for building decks in the winter. Bozeman's adding 2,800 residents a year, says company vice president Scott Pray. Staying focused on decks is fine by him: Pray calls them “the fun part” of home construction.