Cable railing—with its sleek profile—has become a popular choice among homeowners wanting durability and a minimalistic aesthetic.
According to Mike Stoltzfus, outside sales representative at Homestead Outdoor Products, “Installing it can be challenging, though, because every manufacturer has their own unique cable railing system.”
Inexperience and lack of unfamiliarity with a brand can ultimately lead to costly installation errors. However, Mike says a willingness to learn and attention to detail will help ensure successful results.
Recommendations for Flawless Installation
1. Educate yourself on the cable railing system.
Before ordering the product, familiarize yourself with it by reviewing the manufacturer’s sales and technical resources. For example, Key-Link™ has a video and installation guide on its website to allow contractors to learn about the installation process.
2. Pay attention.
Follow the manufacturer’s installation guide step by step so you don’t miss any part of the process. Doing things right from the start will spare
you from spending extra time and money to fix mistakes.
3. Check fittings on every post.
Every post (corner and end) will have fittings, which may loosen during shipping and handling. Before you begin the installation, check each post and hand-tighten fittings if necessary.
4. Ask for guidance.
When you order from Homestead Outdoor Products, Mike is here to offer guidance to contractors who are new to installing cable railing. He’ll meet with you on the job site to answer questions and help you get started with confidence.
Welcome to our third article inspired by Paul Jarvis’s book Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business. In the first two articles we covered:
Now, let’s talk about mindset and personality!
Jarvis advocates a mindset of purpose, but he cautions not to confuse purpose with passion. Purpose considers what you can offer the world, whereas passion often is about leveraging a skill to see what it can get you.
Purpose is based on values: It’s why you do what you do—and it should serve as the compass for your company. Successful business owners not only consider what they’re good at but also make sure demand exists for what they do. They let their purpose guide their decisions. Moreover, they recognize that multi-tasking and busyness are roadblocks to critical thinking. (Studies indicate that a person’s ability to focus drops dramatically after working 55 hours per week!)
Tip: Write down your purpose. Don’t worry about how it sounds, just make sure it reflects your values.
Small companies have an edge over large brands—they have more opportunities to bring a personal touch to everything they do. Personality can be a major differentiator, and successful small business leaders use it to their advantage. It is possible to be professional without being impersonal!
Let your uniqueness shine through. Authenticity creates trust and respect.
Next up in our series: Keeping customers happy.
Join us on March 31, April 28, and May 26 to enjoy a free breakfast along with insight and tips from Wolf® Home Products and affiliates.
New Holland Coffee Company • 7 to 8 a.m.
R.S.V.P. to reserve your seat! Space is limited to 40 people per session, so hurry!
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 717-656-9596.
Stay busy and productive by:
- Making sales and customer follow-up calls
- Preparing invoices, paying bills, and getting caught up on other paperwork
- Planning your marketing strategy
- Cleaning and doing maintenance on equipment and tools
- Preparing your truck for the next day’s work
- Researching new building products you’ve been wanting to learn more about
Don’t let rainy days be a downer! With a little motivation on your part, they can be the perfect opportunity to tie up loose ends and move your company forward.
Upselling, when approached with purpose, can be a win-win for contractors and their customers. It can add value and increase customer loyalty. Sadly, many businesses give upselling a bad rap because they look at it as a way to push products or services on customers—even when customers don’t need them—for the sake of making more money.
Tips for Effective and Ethical Upselling
Again, upselling should be good for both you and your customer. It should involve recommending additional work or products that will:
- Improve the function or endurance of some element of a project
- Increase safety, or
- In some other way satisfy the customer’s needs
One example of exemplary upselling is to propose using better-quality materials that last longer and will provide more value for the customer’s money. For instance, a contractor might recommend all-vinyl decking rather than composite materials because it offers greater protection against moisture and requires little maintenance.
Ultimately, upselling builds client relationships when done properly. And that’s the true test of whether upselling is ethical and truly offering value.
In the next issue, we’ll cover the concept of cross-selling to improve your company’s bottom line.
Part 2: Leadership Qualities
Our series inspired by Paul Jarvis’s book Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business continues! To refresh your memory on what our first article covered, “company of one” isn’t defined as a one-person business. Rather, it refers to running a business resourcefully and not trying to grow a company for the sake of growth itself.
Today, we’ll focus on Company of One leadership qualities and the nuances of growth (covered in chapters three and four of Jarvis’s book).
What characteristics do effective leaders have in common?
Leaders who embody Company of One principles share many of the same qualities:
- They have well-rounded business acumen; in other words, they know a little about a lot!
- They have good communication skills.
- They are resilient.
- They understand what motivates people.
- They are decisive and focused.
- They know when to say “when” and how to avoid getting burned out.
Note that excellent leaders aren’t necessarily charismatic. Introverts can—and do—make stellar leaders.
How do they approach growth?
Smart leaders think of growth not as a goal but as a result of improved products or services. They don’t let their egos drive growth. Instead, they pay attention to what will benefit their customers. That’s especially important for small businesses with limited resources; it costs about five times more to acquire new customers than to keep existing ones!
By approaching growth as an effect of serving their customers optimally, leaders make it clear that they are in tune with their greatest strengths.
Stay tuned: In our next Company of One article, we’ll touch on how a leader’s mindset affects business success.
Please join us for a free breakfast and learning session at the New Holland Coffee Company from 7–8 a.m. on the last Friday of each month from January through May. At each session, a Homestead Outdoor Product vendor will talk about new products, installation techniques, and more.
RSVP to reserve your seat! Hurry! Space is limited to 40 people per session.
Send an email to email@example.com or call 717-656-9596.
- January 27 Superior™ Plastic Products
- February 24 Otter-Tech™ Underdecking
- March 31 Fiberon® decking
- April 28 Wolf® Decking Pro and Key-Link™ railing
- May 26 Wolf® Siding and Evolve® Stone
Selling comes naturally to some people. But for the rest of us . . . not so much. Regardless, it’s crucial for small businesses. Without sales efforts, the well of potential customers will quickly run dry.
Fortunately, the following tips can help you get results even if you find selling uncomfortable.
1. Organize your contacts.
Who have you talked with on the phone, exchanged emails with, or had a conversation with at the local diner about your services? Capture important information about them.
- Name and address
- Phone number
- Email address
- How did they find you?
- What are their interests or needs?
- Notes about your last discussion
Then save those details in some type of system. Whether you handwrite everything and keep paper documents in a file cabinet, use an Excel or Google spreadsheet, or subscribe to customer relationship management (CRM) software, organizing this information and storing it in a central location allows you to refer to it and update it later.
2. Make a plan for following up—and stick to it.
Don’t let sales activities slip through the cracks. Sometimes it can take multiple interactions before a prospect becomes a customer, so create a plan for how frequently you want to follow up with your leads. Consider blocking out a set amount of time each week for reaching out to contacts. This way you won’t forget to follow through.
3. Document everything.
Strive to document every conversation (whether in person, by phone, or electronically) with your prospects and existing customers. Use that information to recall interactions and assess your next steps. Even when conversations don’t go all that well, you can still gain insight—and learn valuable lessons.
In the book Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business, author Paul Jarvis shares insight to help business owners create companies that support how they want to live their lives. While the phrase “company of one” implies a one-person business, Jarvis’s book applies to businesses of all sizes.
This article is the first in a series that homes in on how contractors can use Company of One principles to guide their decisions, workplace culture, and customer relationships.
Are You Running Your Company—Or Is It Running You?
In the first two chapters of his book, Jarvis shares some considerations for business owners to think about before deciding to grow their companies. Inspired by Company of One, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Will making your business bigger make it better? Will expanding it allow you to live the lifestyle you want? Sometimes there’s a tradeoff: Making more money may mean making more personal sacrifices.
- How can you improve your business without adding the complexities of “more”—time, responsibilities, staff, costs, funding, etc.? How can you leverage technology to do more with less?
- Is it the right time to grow your business? Do you have the infrastructure in place to handle it (sales team, accounting software, project management tools, work supplies, etc.)?
- What’s your definition of success? Who has achieved it and what can you learn from their journey?
A “company of one” mindset isn’t anti-growth but rather pro-growth if and when growth makes sense. Sometimes a business doesn’t have to scale to succeed. The above questions will help you determine if growth makes sense for you.
Next in our series: “company of one” leadership qualities and the nuances of growth.
SAVE THE DATES!
Beginning in January: Business-Building Breakfasts
Plan to join us on the last Friday of each month from January through May 2023 for learning sessions over breakfast at New Holland Coffee Company. Various vendors are lined up to talk about new products, installation techniques, and much more.
Stay tuned for more details soon!