Product Spotlight: HavenView CountrySide Railing by Fiberon®

Photo courtesy of Fiberon®

When customers ask for a brown railing to complement their patios or decks, you now have a stylish and durable option. Available in a rich brown hue (and black and white), Fiberon’s HavenView CountrySide Railing offers beauty and strength. Its satin, PVC finish adds elegance and withstands the elements, delivering fade-resistant curb appeal homeowners will love.

Call us to learn more about this attractive product that offers exceptional performance.


Eight Questions to Help Your Customers Envision Their Perfect Outdoor Living Space

Now, more than ever, people are spending a lot of time at home and in their backyards. So, naturally, they’re looking for ways to transform their outdoor spaces into the perfect havens for relaxing and enjoying time with their families and friends.

However, they may not know exactly what they want. You can help them envision the full potential of their outdoor area by sharing your expertise and asking the following questions to pinpoint their wants and needs.

  1. What activities will you do in your outdoor space?
  2. What times of day will you typically use the area?
  3. In which seasons of the year do you intend to use your space?
  4. Do you want direct sunlight, shade, or a combination of both in your outdoor space?
  5. How many people will use your outdoor living area, and how much seating must it accommodate?
  6. Do you have pets that you want to keep on your property? Do you want to restrict them to a limited area?
  7. Do you need storage space for equipment and tools or shelter for vehicles (classic car, boat, camper, etc.)?
  8. Is privacy important to you?

The more thought homeowners put into their projects, the better able you will be to suggest features and amenities tailored to their unique needs and lifestyles. By asking the right questions, you can help ensure that the outdoor living spaces you create will wow your customers and generate referrals for your business.


Good Habits You Won’t Want to Break

Stephen Covey’s the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® – Habits #4, #5, & #6

Our last newsletter discussed Habits #2 and #3 from Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®. Here, we continue our series on Covey’s concepts.

HABIT #4:
THINK WIN-WIN®

Covey’s fourth habit encourages people to focus on cooperation rather than competition.

When you, your customers, and vendors work together to create a situation that  is beneficial to all involved, it leads to greater productivity and satisfaction all around. Win-win scenarios are a multi-way street. Sometimes, the best option may be to walk away if another party is not willing to meet you in the middle.

HABIT #5:
SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD®

Covey’s fifth habit addresses how critical good listening skills are.

By becoming a better listener, you can help avoid or de-escalate tricky customer situations. For example, if a homeowner is upset because their deck project is on a two-week delay, consider giving the  customer your full attention—rather  than quickly becoming defensive—as they share their disappointment. Then, acknowledge their feelings, explain (don’t make excuses!), and propose a  resolution. After being heard fully, the customer may be more understanding.

HABIT #6:
SYNERGIZE®  

This sixth habit involves the concept “two heads are better than one.”

Think about the importance of teamwork in your business. It’s not very practical for one person to design and build a fence or deck entirely by themselves, is it?

Through sharing ideas, collaborating on processes, and cooperating to get the job done, we (our team and our  customers) can get better results.

Next Issue: Covey’s final Habit!


Good Habits You Won’t Want to Break

Stephen Covey’s the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® – Habit #2 & #3

In our last newsletter, we discussed Habit #1 (“Be Proactive”) in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People®.
In this issue, we continue our series on Covey’s concepts.

Habit #2:
Begin with the End in Mind   

Covey’s second habit encourages people to use their imagination and visualize what they want to see down the road for their lives and businesses.

Think about your vision and strive to make sure that all you’re doing in the present is moving you in the direction of your goals.

Also, you can apply this concept to shorter-term projects in addition to long-term objectives. For example, let’s imagine you’re feeling frustrated because you and your customer are disagreeing about some job details. By keeping your end goals in mind (nice addition to your portfolio, opportunity for referrals, etc.), you may find the patience to work through the immediate challenges without burning any bridges.

Habit #3:
Put First Things First   

Covey’s third habit stresses the importance of prioritizing your to-dos. He suggests using a four-quadrant approach for identifying what you need to do now vs. later.

Examples of duties and tasks that might fall into these quadrants include:

1. Urgent and Important
Worker accidents on the job, rush deadlines, other emergencies

2. Not Urgent but Important
Planning, proactive work responsibilities, relationship-building, learning, worker training

3. Urgent but Not Important
Unexpected phone calls that do not require immediate action, other needless interruptions, unnecessary meetings

4. Not Urgent and Not Important
Trivial tasks, time wasters (television, arguing on social media, etc.)

The exact responsibilities, tasks, and developments that fall into these categories may vary depending on your business, the time of year, and other factors. Regardless, it’s critical to focus most of your energy on what matters (quadrant two) while tending to what is immediately necessary (quadrant one).

Fortunately, there are ways to ensure you can spend more of your time on quadrant two activities. For example:

  • Order materials for projects in advance so that you don’t have to scramble at the last minute.
  • Create a habit of organizing tools and equipment the night before your jobs so that all you need is in place and ready to go.

Planning will help avoid unwelcome surprises and unnecessary stress, allowing you to become more intentional and productive every day.

Stay tuned for more food for thought about Covey’s 7 Habits in our upcoming issues!


Dear customers and business associates of Homestead Outdoor Products,

Thank you for your continued business over the past two months. We realize these are unusual times, and we greatly appreciate the partnerships we have with you. We look forward to serving you for the rest of 2020 and beyond. As the building business changes, we, as a building community, can and will adjust to meet the challenges together.                         

—Merv Beiler


Protecting Customer Peace of Mind and Managing Perceptions During COVID-19

In these uncertain times, one thing is sure: People don’t see eye to eye about the coronavirus threat. Regardless of how you or your workers feel about the pandemic, you will need to manage customer expectations to land projects and get referrals.

What steps can you take to help your customers feel safe and comfortable when you’re on the job site? Consider the following tips:

1. Wear protective gear.

Put on a clean mask and pair of disposable booties when entering the site. At the bare minimum, make sure you and your team take every precaution legally required to perform your work.   

2. Adapt to social distancing.

This may mean staggering work schedules and tasks so that workers aren’t all in the same space at the same time. Also, figure out ways to ask customers questions and get feedback without being up close and personal. Following the golden rule of staying at least six feet from each other may take some creativity. Consider using smartphones to share photos and video apps.

3. Build a plastic wall as a temporary barrier.

If it is practical, close off work areas by using heavy plastic sealed with tape to make an airtight barrier. Aside from helping to minimize COVID-19 concerns, sealing off the worksite will help keep other areas of the building free of dust and debris.

4. Communicate!

Proactively explain to your customers the precautions you’re taking to ensure their safety and well-being. Also, discuss in detail your safety plan with your subcontractors. If they don’t follow your procedures, it could jeopardize your business reputation.

5. Be flexible.

Some customers will be more stressed than others about having contractors in and around their homes during these next few months. You may have to put stricter measures in place for customers who need extra assurance.

This pandemic has uprooted the way many of us live and work. While the inconveniences are frustrating, we all face the reality that our companies may not thrive if we don’t adapt. You may find that exercising an abundance of caution now will pay off for your business in the future.


Product Spotlight: FootingPad® and Quik-Tube® for Deck Projects

FootingPad® Footer Pads
A lightweight alternative to concrete footings, FootingPad’s simple yet solid footing system meets code requirements and has been tested and certified by NTA Testing Laboratories. We are stocking FootingPad’s 12” and 16” pads.

QUIK-TUBE® Concrete Tubes by QUIKRETE®
A rigid fiber building form tube, QUIK-TUBE is ideal for pouring concrete foundations for deck supports. We are stocking the 12” tubes at Homestead Outdoor Products.

Contact Homestead Outdoor Products for more information about these game-changing products!


Good Habits You Won’t Want to Break in 2020

Stephen Covey’s the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Habit #1

You may have heard about or read Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Its principles are as relevant today as they were when it was first published in 1989, and they can help all of us in our professional and personal lives. We live and work in a complex world, and Covey’s concepts provide some clarity and common sense that can help us weather challenges. In the next few issues of the Homestead Post, we’ll discuss Covey’s approach, starting with Habit #1 in this edition.

Habit #1: Be Proactive
The first habit is being proactive and responsible for what happens in our lives and at work. It’s about anticipating issues before they become problems and responding to them in a positive way that will improve the situation.

Proactive people realize they can choose and control what they say and do. They don’t blame external sources for how they behave. While some elements of a situation may be outside of their control, proactive people recognize what is within their power to change or improve, focusing their energies on those things.

This habit can be especially helpful in times of uncertainty. Take notice of when you’re proactively responding and when you’re reacting (letting circumstances control your actions and words). Being aware of how you’re spending your energy at home and work is a critical step toward becoming more proactive and intentional. A proactive mindset can help you seize opportunities and resolve challenges faster.

Stay tuned for more food for thought about Covey’s 7 Habits in our upcoming issues!


Superior Plastic Products Price Increase

On all orders received after March 31, our prices on Superior’s vinyl products will increase by four percent. Superior has raised their pricing due to rising raw input costs.

We will honor all quotes with the old pricing for 30 days from the date we issued them.

During the last week of March, we will have updated “quick price” sheets for you. Thank you for your business!


5 Springtime Composite Decking Care Tips to Share With Your Customers

One sure-fire way to gain new referrals is to give your existing customers knowledge to help them keep their decks looking great.

Here are some springtime deck maintenance tips to pass along to your customers: 

  1. Sweep or use a blower to remove leaves and other loose debris from the deck surface.
  2. Remove mold, mildew, dirt, and grime that accumulated over winter. Follow the decking manufacturer’s instructions on what cleaners and tools are safe to use.
  3. Work in very small sections, especially when cleaning a deck in direct sunlight, to ensure that the cleaner (and dirt) doesn’t dry on the deck before it’s rinsed from the surface.
  4. Check the deck’s support components for signs of damage. Pay particular attention to the ledger board, posts, joists, stairs, and railings to confirm they haven’t split or otherwise aren’t in sound condition. Also, check flashing and fasteners that may have rusted or become loose.
  5. Rotate chairs, tables, pots, and other fixtures if they’ve been in the same spot for a while. If left in the same position for too long, they can cause decking to discolor or show signs of wear.

Remind customers that cleaning and maintaining decks properly will ensure they last and look exceptional longer! For more composite deck-care recommendations, contact us or visit fiberondecking.com and wolfhomeproducts.com.