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.
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?”
- IF THEY ANSWER “NO,” REPLY:
“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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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!
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.
WHAT IS ‘LEAN’?
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.
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!
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:
905 WEST MAIN STREET I NEW HOLLAND, PA 17557
- 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!
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.
THE IMPACT ON BUILDERS: IT’S NOT ALL BAD!
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
THREE QUESTIONS TO ASK TO DETERMINE THE BEST OPTION
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?
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.
If you’re looking for structural composite lumber that’s a cut above others for applications such as docks, marinas, and other submerged (or close-to submerged)
structures, consider Trimax®.
It offers enhanced durability and is ultra-resistant to moisture, fungi, chemicals, and marine borers. Other advantages of Trimax structural lumber include:
- Easy to install and maintain
- Environmentally friendly
- Backed by a 25-year limited warranty You can cut and install Trimax like you
would natural wood, using conventional tools and methods. But, unlike wood,
Trimax doesn’t splinter, split, rot, or stain. To maintain its beauty and performance,
it requires no scrubbing, staining, painting, sanding, or sealing. Trimax is made from a patented blend of virgin and recycled post-consumer/post-industrial HDPE (high-density polyethylene), with non-organic additives to stiffen it. With no trees used in anufacturing Trimax, you have the peace of mind that you’re doing right by the environment
when using it.
For more information about Trimax and its many benefits in projects that need optimal strength with minimal maintenance, call us!
When homeowners want to expand their living areas and enjoy the outdoors more, consider suggesting screen railing to them. At Homestead Outdoor Products, we offer ScreenRail (by Westbury® Aluminum Railing)—one of the most innovative, well-engineered screen railing products on the market. With options that include a structural balcony/railing system or a heavy-duty kick-panel system, ScreenRail is easy to assemble and very durable.
- Key benefits to share with your customers include:
- Allows fresh air in while keeping insects out
- Offers integrated screen and railing in customizable sections to fit nearly any
- Comes in an array of finishes to match exterior and interior preferences
- Provides versatility—makes a wonderful option for porches, patios, pools,
Call us to find out more about ScreenRail and its many applications!