May 2006 Table of Contents

Featured Articles
Kiss a Few Frogs

Many home improvement companies, cut off from telemarketing, would like to develop a strong canvassing program to produce leads on a set basis. To have a productive ongoing canvass program, it's essential that you, the company owner, have a qualified full-time manager with a well-defined job description and an adequate compensation package. Read more

Jobsite Rail-Post Connections for Wooden Decks: Part 1

During the last several years, wood science researchers at Virginia Tech have scrutinized the structural connections commonly found in residential wood decks. Read more

Meet the Neighbors Meet the Neighbors

A lead-hungry salesforce requires constant feeding, but the quality of those leads is at least as important as their number. Specialty contractors across the country are discovering that one of the most cost-effective ways to generate high-quality leads -- that is, with a prospect who views your company favorably and is inclined to buy -- is to host an open house at a satisfied customer's home. Read more

Virtual Gold

With leads becoming more difficult and more costly to generate every year, contractors can tap a rich vein of new sales by working the leads they have already. Read more

Welcome Aboard

More contractors are hiring installers as full-time employees. As a result, "bonus" and "incentive" are taking on new meanings. Read more

2006 Contractor Of The Year Home Run

HomeWorks has built itself into the biggest home improvement contractor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now it aims to double its size, without losing its soul. Read more

Legal Eagle Use a Contract, Not a Proposal

Many contractor documents contain language indicating that the job being presented to the consumer --and its pricing -- is just an "estimate" or a "proposal." These agreements usually go on to state that if the consumer signs the agreement, it is up to the contractor to "accept" the proposal, usually within 30 days, at which time the parties will be in a binding contract. Read more

Share the Wealth

Four years ago, Bill Frazier, owner of Austin Gutterman, introduced a profit-sharing program at his Texas gutter and gutter protection company. Here's how it works: Read more

Over Easy

Employees entering the hotel conference room are greeted with the mouthwatering smells of ham, bacon, pancakes, and omelets. It's time for Unique Window & Door's monthly breakfast meeting, where bonuses will be handed out -- each of the Indianapolis company's 100-plus employees is eligible to receive a bonus -- and company profit-sharing information will be updated. Read more

Be a Servant

What if I told you that you could improve production 30% without additional subs or employees? Ridiculous, right? Read more

Here Today, Here Tomorrow

When Mark Geller finishes explaining his company's lifetime warranty on windows to prospects, he stops and waits. "Because," says the owner of Buy One Window Get One Free in Denver, "it takes a while for it to sink in." The most common reaction is blank incomprehension. Geller says that prospects often have no idea what's covered, by whom, or for how long. Read more

To Your Credit

The government's new energy tax credit could be worth a lot to your marketing effort. Read more

Just Say No

Local advertising, always important in the home improvement industry, has become a lot more important as telemarketing wanes. Advertising budgets are getting bigger and efficient management of that investment is critical to success -- or survival. Yet at too many home improvement companies, pivotal advertising decisions are more often shaped by media reps than by sweet reason. Read more

Proximity Marketing: Part 1

They responded to your marketing message. They became prospects, then customers. If they're satisfied customers, they can also be the source for quality inexpensive leads. Read more

Lead Me There

Looking for an endless supply of prospects? All of your employees --not just your salespeople -- can help you get them. Read more

By the Book By the Book

Every home improvement company organizes its presentation book differently depending on what it sells, its company history, etc. The best use their book to structure the sales presentation. Read more

Perfect Timing

You might have seen competitors promoting the fact that their sales calls take only half an hour. Can you really make an effective sales presentation in half an hour? Not everyone thinks so. Read more

Bragging Rights

Everybody has a story. Or at least they better if they want to sell home improvement products. "I think the company story is more important than ever," says Rick Grosso, industry consultant and sales trainer. Read more

Sales Meeting 101

Here are the five things that salespeople hate the most: contract cancelled; can't get sold deal financed; appointment doesn't include all decision-makers; appointment is a no-show; company sales meeting. Read more

Specialty of the House

Prince William Home Improvement in Woodbridge, Va., sells kitchens, baths, decks, patio enclosures, windows, and siding. Read more

Lighten Up

If you look out your truck or office window and see cats and dogs raining from the sky, the choice is pretty clear about what needs to happen first: get over there with a tarp, if only to provide the customer service your clients expect and to prevent expensive damage to their home -- and to your reputation. Read more

The Porch: Back With a Vengeance

Last August, Atlanta Decking & Fence was getting so many requests for porches that the company formed a division called Georgia Front Porch to handle strictly porches and porticos. Gary Zielinski, who runs it, says he can hardly keep up with all the business. Read more

What's Permitted

Permitting requirements for vinyl siding vary widely across the country. Contractors in Woodbury, Minn., for instance, can apply for a permit issued across the desk or by mail, with the fee determined by the value of labor and materials in the job. Read more

Unpleasant Surprises

Every now and then, when he's pricing out a window job, John Herman, owner of Thermal Sash Window and Door Systems, Chester Springs, Pa., finds rot. Good thing for Herman, with 20-plus years experience both selling and installing windows, that he knows what to look for and where to look for it. Read more

Turnaround Artist

Mel Rosenblatt, chairman of the board of Mid-South Building Supply, has held executive positions at home improvement manufacturing, distribution, and retail companies, and has expertise in company turnarounds. Read more

In and Out

The client had never had her roof replaced before, so when the salesman arrived there were questions. He answered them all. He explained what would be done. He talked about the company's reputation, its licensing, its insurances. The crew would be in and out in a day. He handed her a list of local homes the company had worked on, along with addresses and phone numbers. She signed. Read more

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