Practical Tips for Installing SCREENEZE®

Attractive and very easy to install, SCREENEZE® fixed screen system lets you transform your customers’ patios and porches into outdoor living spaces they’ll love.

For the best results during installation, keep these two tips in mind:

Install with consideration of sun exposure and temperature. In hot summer months, consider the porch location and temperature when installing SCREENEZE. On hot days with lots of sunshine, the vinyl will have expanded, so you’ll want to make sure the caps have a snug fit.

In cool weather (under 60º), keep the vinyl caps warm until you’re ready to install SCREENEZE. In cold temperatures, vinyl becomes brittle and can split or crack if not stored in a heated environment before installation. The ends are particularly susceptible to breaking in cold weather, so SCREENEZE’s manufacturer recommends hand-pressing the
caps at the corners and tapping the caps close to previously expanded points.

Cut the track and cap at the same time to ensure clean miters. If you try to cut the aluminum base and vinyl cap separately, you’ll find it more difficult to get the joints right. By cutting them together, you’ll ensure they’re of equal length and avoid leaving gaps.

For detailed installation instructions and tips, visit the SCREENEZE website at And, as always, you’re welcome to call us with questions.

Bonus Tip: For pet-hardy screened-in porches that resist tears and punctures better than other screen fabrics, we carry TEXTILINE ® (formerly known as SuperScreen™). Used with SCREENEZE, this heavy-duty coated polyester screen will give customers years of use with minimal maintenance.

Photo courtesy of SCREENEZE®

Job Site Checklist

Boost Productivity and Keep Customers Happy

A neat, well-organized job site affects customer satisfaction and how efficiently your crew can get the job done.

Here’s a checklist of to-dos to help you deliver an exceptional customer experience and streamline your work:

  • Visualize the flow of work in advance. Consider the layout of the job site and plan ahead for how you can work—and clean up—most effectively. For example, determine where you might place your saw to minimize the distance between where you’re cutting and the destination of your finished lumber stack.
  • Keep supplies in good order. Arrange your materials neatly as soon as you bring them on-site. Taking a few minutes to do that can save hours by making supplies easier to find and minimizing clean-up efforts.
  • Use a blower to remove dirt and debris. After wrapping up your work each day, use a blower to clear dust and debris from porches, yards, and sidewalks. Although the home’s exterior may still be a work in progress, it will look more like a completed job if you’ve cleaned it up as you go.
  • Set standards and expectations with your team. Strive for consistency in how your crew handles organizing and cleaning up sites. With uniformity from one job to the next, you can boost productivity and better ensure customer satisfaction.

Never underestimate the goodwill you can create with your customers by keeping their property organized and clean during and after the job. A little extra attention can go a long way toward gaining repeat business and referrals!

Price May Not Be As Important To Customers As You Think It Is

Houzz recently published its 2017 Houzz & Home Report. Within it, Houzz lists what matters most to homeowners when hiring a contractor to do work for them.
Believe it or not, price wasn’t number one on the list. In fact, it didn’t even make the top three!

So, what is most important to customers? Here’s the breakdown of how more than 100,000 U.S. participants in the survey responded:

  • 78% look for positive reviews.
  • 62% want a contractor who has experience with a project’s scope of work.
  • 52% want a contractor who communicates well and is organized.
  • 37% look for someone who has experience with their project style.

Less than one-third (30%) said price was a deciding factor—although that percentage was higher (54%) for first time home-buyers; personality (28%) and other components (9%) rounded out the criteria.

Moral of the story: Customers consider price, but it’s often secondary to other factors.

How to Find Out How Much Your Customers Are Willing to Pay

It seems like it should be a simple task, but discovering what price point a customer is willing and able to pay often presents challenges. Customers may hesitate because they have no idea what a job might cost or fear getting quoted a higher rate if they share their budget.

Regardless, learning about a customer’s budget early in the quoting process offers
benefits to you and your customer. It . . .

  • creates trust between you and your customer;
  • narrows down the options for you to consider;
  • quickly exposes projects that won’t be a good fit for you;
  • helps the customer pre-buy your proposal; and saves time when designing and estimating the job. Tactful, non-confrontational phrasing and anticipating responses when asking about a budget can help bring a hesitant customer out of his or her  shell: Start with: “I don’t suppose you have a budget set aside for this project?”
    Then tailor your response according to how the customer answers that question:
  • IF THEY RESPOND “YES,” REPLY: “That’s great. Would you be comfortable
    sharing that in round numbers?”
    “That’s OK, it’s not unusual. We get that a lot. When you’ve done something like this in the past, can you share what you may have invested? I want to make sure you’re comfortable with our solution.”
  • IF THEY ANSWER “MAYBE,” REPLY: “No problem, I understand. We actually have a number of solutions for a project like yours that range somewhere between [lower range] and [higher range]. Where might you see this project fitting into that scale?”

By approaching the budget question in a casual, undemanding way, you’ll
put your customer at ease and get the  information you need to move forward.

Our thanks to Todd Burgard of Burgard Design. Todd originally shared these helpful
tips at our February workshop.

Tips for Building Decks that Impress With the arrival of spring, more homeowners start thinking about transforming their outdoor spaces into gathering places for friends and family. No wonder the volume of calls about adding decks begins to climb this time of year! To build a deck that wows your customers, consider these helpful tips from WOLF Home Products™: • If your deckboards are from different lots and the colors vary slightly, stagger the boards to avoid visible color variations. • When in doubt, over-fasten. It’s better than risking the problems that come with poor fastening. Also, pre-drill for all fasteners. For more decking recommendations or questions about installation and maintenance of decking products, feel free to contact us. • Round over the edges of deck boards to minimize the visible gap between them. • To minimize warping and bending, use smaller boards. They are more resistant to these problems than larger boards. • Bug spray and sunscreen can harm the color on PVC decking, so be careful when using these substances. • Use flashing tape on joists to prevent joist rot. Also, crown all joists and plane them as needed to avoid a wavy deck. • Offering two options—instead of only a single choice—adds confidence to your customer’s decision and has been shown to increase sales closings by 35 percent!


A picture is worth a thousand words. Photography Tips to Help You Sell Your Work Without Using 1,000 Words

When you’re selling your expertise as a contractor, stunning photography of your work can speak for itself. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare to take photos that represent your capabilities:

  1. Pictures tell your story! Make sure you share those that give customers a telling glimpse into who your company is and the value you bring. Showcase your best work to make a great first impression.
  2. Pictures will help you sell the benefits rather than just the features of
    your products and services. Focus on the experience you can provide. For
    example, take photos of friends gathered around the patio for a birthday party or a family cookout filled with smiles and laughter. Photos that evoke feeling will make a more memorable impression than simply stating in words that you offer “the latest innovation in decking with realistic grain pattern.”
  3.  You don’t need to spend a fortune to take an exceptional photo. For most purposes, a good cell phone with a high-quality camera will do the trick. If you do want to go higher end, however, you can find good DSLR cameras for under $500. Either way, consider investing in a tripod (as inexpensive as $30) to keep your camera steady.

Thank you to Jeremy R. Martin, owner of Willow Gates Landscaping, for sharing the insightful tips in this article—and for speaking on this topic at our on-site workshop in February!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT Building a Lean Building Business

It’s no secret; businesses that find the most efficient and effective ways of doing things stand the best chance of success. By having a lean business model at the core of all that you do, you can satisfy customers while eliminating wasteful spending and increasing productivity.


Although originally created for the manufacturing industry, businesses in
every industry now employ “lean” principles to offer more value to customers while reducing the time and costs to do so.

Running a lean business is a mindset rather than a strict set of to-dos. It requires thinking of new ways to organize, grow, and operate your business.
Have you thought about what changes you might make in your business to take it to the next level?

  • What additional services or products might you add to your offerings to make your customers happier and add more profit to your bottom line?
  • Are there any products and services you should eliminate from your list of offerings so you can concentrate on those that are more in demand and more profitable?
  • If you regularly find you have too much or too little inventory in stock,
    how can you streamline your ordering to meet customers’ needs on time and improve cash flow?
  • Are there any technology tools you should explore to streamline the processing of customer quotes, orders, and invoices so you can save time and boost productivity?
  • How can you improve the flow of communication within your company and with your customers and suppliers to help build stronger working relationships?

Every business has room for improvement. Asking yourself the  right questions with lean principles in mind can help put your business on the path to achieving the profitability and customer loyalty you’re striving for.

WOLF Composite Decking With ‘Capped’ Technology

WOLF Composite Decking With ‘Capped’ Technology To provide you with more flexibility when quoting deck jobs, we are pleased to now offer WOLF Home Products™ capped composite decking.

This decking from WOLF’s Captiva Plus and Terrace collections will allow you to give your budget-conscious customers options that are more cost-effective than PVC decking.

While some composite materials (made of wood-flour and plastic) haven’t won the confidence of contractors because they attract moisture, get moldy, and tend to fade, this decking will not crack, warp, or swell. In addition, it retains its color better than uncapped composites. It features a tough, durable capstock to protect boards from outdoor elements and provide a long-lasting finish to maintain curb appeal year after year.

Available for order in 10 colors including four in stock (Cedar Ridge, Potomac Gray, Almond, and Cinnamon), these capped composite deck boards resist insects and damage from the Sun’s rays. They do not need to be treated or stained and come with a 25-Year Limited Warranty.
All wood and composite decking products require proper ventilation and drainage to ensure their longevity. At a minimum, WOLF recommends there should be a 2” clear space between the bottom edge
of the joists and grade in order to allow for proper ventilation. Using WOLF’s recommended clip fasteners will enable you to set the correct gap between boards.

To learn more about this durable, attractive, budget-friendly decking option, call us today!

Build More Better Business Workshops

Build More!

Thanks & Open Door When: Wednesday, February 1, 2017. FREE hot breakfast served at 6:30 a.m.;
workshops begin at 7:30 a.m.
Where: Homestead Outdoor Products, 905 W. Main St., New Holland, Pa.
Why: You’ll have an opportunity to learn some valuable tips and information to
help your business succeed in 2017. The top-of-mind topics covered by the
half-hour-long workshops include:

  •  DIY Job Photography: In today’s digital world, images that reflect the quality of
    your work are essential for grabbing potential customers’ attention. In this workshop, landscaper and photographer Jeremy Martin will share simple tips anyone can use to take great pictures of their jobs.
  • Understanding Customer Budgets: Ken Burkholder of Homestead Outdoor Products and Todd Burgard of Burgard Design Group will discuss how to tactfully figure out how much customers are willing to budget for and spend on jobs.
  • Pleasing Deck Design: Independent design specialist Mike Kline will discuss designing and building a deck that complements the flow of the house and surrounding landscape.
  • Stone Panel Concepts: This “how to” presentation by Benjamin Kauffman, Superior
    Plastic Products representative, will demonstrate how to install stone panels, including deck posts.

Don’t miss it! Call Ken or Merv at 717-656-9596 to sign up today!

Vendor Logos

How the New Standards for Pressure-Treated Lumber Will Affect You

dec-10 Recently, the American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) raised its U1 standard for preservative-treated lumber in certain above-ground applications.

When officially adopted by building codes, the new standard will require UC4B-treated lumber to be used in above-ground applications where wood will be:

  • Located less than 6 inches from the ground
  • At risk of getting poor air circulation
  • Difficult to maintain, repair, or replace
  • Essential to the performance and safety of the entire construction
  • In prolonged contact with damp leaves or other vegetation
  • Consistently exposed to moisture
  • Used in a tropical climate

Deck joists, beams, and ledger boards will have to be UC4A ground contact material.
Posts, stair stringers, and certain deck board installations will also require ground-contact treated lumber.

Typically, there’s lag time between when recommendations are made and when building codes adopt them. Local municipalities will decide when their inspectors will enforce the new rules. At some point, however, this change will be effective everywhere. Ultimately, we expect that it will become the de facto requirement for framing and that lumberyards
will only carry heavier-duty lumber.


With the higher standards will come increased cost to you and your customers
as you need to buy more of the expensive, heavier-duty lumber.

However, there also is a positive side to these changes.

The new standards will provide customers with the benefits of better
quality, enhanced durability, less maintenance, and increased safety.
Those are strong selling points!

For more information about when the new standards will be incorporated into building codes in the areas you serve, contact the local municipalities in those jurisdictions

Figuring Out the Best Fencing Fit for a Property



All properties and personal preferences are different, so not all types of fencing will work for all people. Here are three considerations to keep in mind as you help customers determine which fencing options will be the best fit.


Why does the customer want the fence? What purpose will it serve?

About 40% of the time people want a fence because of disputes or discomfort with their neighbors. For them, a six-foot privacy fence might be ideal. Other customers may want something simple to delineate a property line, and a picket fence might serve their needs just fine.

Other customers may need to enclose pools or keep their dogs in the yard.

Purpose should always be a top-priority consideration.

What style of home do they have?

11-30-2 Most customers will want fences that are of a similar style or that will otherwise
complement the look of their home. For example, you might suggest a trendy aluminum fence to enhance a property with a contemporary-looking house. For a farmhouse or colonial-style home, a white or tan traditional picket fence might be a good recommendation.

What does the future hold?

Does the customer anticipate having children or getting a larger dog in the years to come? Asking customers to think ahead about how their lives might realistically
change in relation to how they’ll use their property will help you help them arrive at the best decision.