Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Would you have caught this?

Yesterday I was taking a initial call for my client in NJ and after it was over I thought I would share the call with all of you and ask this question,

"Would you have caught this?"

Here is how the lead came in to me on Friday night via email:
  For: Coleen                       
  Name:: BETH Z.                 

Sounds great right?  I jumped right on it, even though it was a bit out of the territory hey they are adding a 2nd Floor, I'd love to have this project!

I called and spoke with Beth on Saturday who said she was busy and couldn't talk , so I asked if I could call on Monday and would she have time, and she agreed.

Monday morning I called and Beth and I were having a nice opening conversation about the day and how nice it was out. While talking initially with her I gathered all the pertinent information concerning her address, what kind of home is was, phone numbers, etc. 

Then I began to ask her about what she was looking to get done, and she proceeded to let me know about the house, and how she would love to have a second story addition since the home was a ranch and they needed more room.  Beth told me how she would like to add a master bedroom and 2 other rooms in the new addition so she could have a view of the lake behind her from her bedroom. (I have to say this answer sent a red flag up for me, there is no real need, just a want) still intrigued I continued asking questions and listening to all her ideas for this addition. 

I was now about 15 minutes into our conversation and both of us were enjoying each other, laughing at times and getting comfortable with each other.  So the the next series of questions I began to ask were the financial questions, always fun I know!  I asked Beth if she had considered what a addition like this would add to the value of her home, and where she and her husband would feel comfortable financially investing in their home? 

Here comes the bomb!  Beth's answer was "Oh we don't own the home, we haven't even put a bid on it yet!" , well then my conversation started to steer in a different direction.  I asked her if she would mind letting me know the value of the home as it currently is, she told me 725,000...there was a brief silence on my part due to my shock!  I asked Beth, " Have you considered what a project like you are considering would add on to the loan you will need for the home? Do you know if the zoning in this area will allow an addition like you are considering? Well as you probably already know the answer to this was no. 

She then actually sighed and said "thank you Coleen, I've never remodeled or purchased a home before even at my age, and just didn't know!" I then gave her advise to contact the town zoning to get information on what they allow as far as what she was looking to do prior to her putting a bid on the home. Contact her bank to see what they will allow financially for them, and then when she has all of those in place I would be happy to come and for a fee to review the home and see what they could do prior to purchase of the home.  Beth was very appreciative and asked that I follow up with her in a few weeks so we could talk about what she found out!

This call took exactly 22 minutes and cost my client in NJ a total of $40.00! 
Not to mention the potential for a sale later, when she has all things in order.

I don't know where in the conversation you may have stopped but I know I used to stop probably after the 2nd paragraph because I was so hungry for work and at that point it sure sounded like a great project I didn't want to slide by me! 

Gas and Time alone would cost easily over 250.00 plus I would be heading to a client that isn't even remotely close to being ready to remodel any home.  I would have been angry and probably not have wanted to contact her again because I would have been so upset they wasted my time! 

Let me know your answers below....Would you have caught this? 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Qualifying Green

Happy Earth Day 2011

I have attended several green-themed marketing seminars and began to consider how I might evaluate a homeowner’s interest in green for the remodeler's that offer sustainable building services.

The techniches that I have developed to evaluate incoming leads is also used but then using the five green consumer types defined by Corinne Asturias, of cultural trend research company Iconoculture, to figure out where the prospect falls in terms of their commitment to green:

  • Extreme Greens value change, commitment, and creativity. These consumers also are influenced by success and their own personal politics.
  • Health Seekers have a safety, wellness, and family focus. They want to clean up the planet.
  • Money and Autonomy–type customers already own Energy Star-approved products and appliances; they rate practicality and thrift as their top values.
  • Conservationist and Preservationist types value authenticity, environmentalism, and preservation.
  • Green-Sheen or Eco-Chic's value status, style, and a sense of belonging.

    The idea here is that it would make sense to  figure out what kind of customer we are dealing with and at what level of "green" they are at so we could avoid overwhelming them with too much green information at the first meeting!

    Every homeowner is concerned with the planet in someway, and at their own level if we can arm ourselves when we enter their home we can be prepared as to how to approach the topic of green with the client!

    Happy Earth Day Everyone...!  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just Say NO!

Why can we as contractors say NO to suppliers , say NO to subcontractors, say NO to our employees, etc etc...  but when it comes time to say NO to a potential client we get scared and just say YES YES YES?

I understand its what drives our business obviously, we need to have new clients in order to stay in business, but at what cost are you jeapodizing your business by going out on every lead?

Spending at minimum 2 hours at the home reviewing the project ,gas/travel time to get there, neglecting the clients who have committed to your work, time away from your family and friend, etc, etc....  Only to find out the potential client doesn't have the money to do the project, isn't really ready to do this just wanted to use you to get started , or they don't have a project you are interested in there are so many different scenarios but it all ends up the same way No Sale!

We all would like to think that we have a system of qualifying before we go out, but I challenge you to think about that process and ask yourself do you know all of the above scenarios before you even get to the clients home?

Saying No is ok, working on your business, concentrating solely on what projects and tasks will make you money instead of wasting time chasing something you never had is what is going to keep your business thriving instead of diving!

I realize that this is what I do so I am passionate about it, this is not an advertisement so much as a wake up call for all of us to remember we are in control!!

If we set up standards for ourselves we can move forward in any economy and thrive doing what we love!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Setting Expectations !

I was sitting one day a few years back and preparing for my new soccer season coaching my first travel team (this was 7 years ago!).  I had all the drills ready, watched all the coaching videos, called on others and asked for advise, had my whole plan ready, I was ready to go!  Since I was a newbie to coaching, I wanted to make sure everyone was prepared for my style of coaching, so I wrote up a one page contract for the players and parents.  It explained my expectations of the parents and players and also showed what they should expect from me, we would both sign and everyone knew they needed to uphold the contact or there would be consequences.  It worked like a charm, I didn't have parents yelling instruction from the sidelines, everyone was on time for practices and games, the kids were respectful, and I made sure it was fun and fair!  So every year from there on my parents and players would expect to see this from me and enjoyed the relief of not having to assume anything but know exactly how things would work!

In our industry we all have good intentions of following through and doing what we set out to do from the initial contract signing, but some where because things happen in construction the expectation we set up from the beginning gets lost and we forget that the homeowner is still expecting this and we don't communicate and set new expectations up to keep them feeling good about the process.

Some things I like to do:
  • At the beginning of the project above the contract, send a one page "what to expect now" sheet, pointing out what they should be expecting from us and what we expect of them
  • Have a daily log for your Project Manager to leave with the homeowner telling what they have done and what can be expected the following day. We sign and they sign ! 
  • Call through out the conversation and keep "taking their temperature" to be sure they are feeling all "warm and fuzzy" still about the project!

Once I learned this and applied it to all aspects of my life it changed everything, from my personal life to my professional career. 

The more communication we have whether big or small is so valuable during the process and will set us apart from everyone else, you will be remembered and homeowners will be talking about you !

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


As a mother of three children I see every day how different they are.  Frustrating (is an understatement) as it may be to understand them, I have learned through studying the Enneagram how to deal with them a little bit better! 

How does this relate to Remodeling? 

After studying the Enneagram for several years I have applied it to my first initial call to the homeowner in my 30 to 40 minute interview.  When you understand to ask the right questions you can begin to understand what personality type you will be encountering on your first sales call.  This is invaluable information for your sales staff when they come to the home, knowing your sales personality and the homeowner’s personality will help to understand how the sales process is going to go with the homeowner.

See What Personality you are....its a great way to get started.  You have to understand who you are first in order to understand anyone else! 

When I began this process I baffled everyone...my trainer asked me what my birth order was, I replied "well I'm the first born and the middle child!"  Once you take the test and study the Enneagram you'll understand why I was a hard case to study!!

Learn who you are talking to so you can set yourself apart from the rest and make your clients feel comfortable because you understand them!

If you want more information please contact me at certifiedleadservices@gmail.com ...its always fun to meet new personalities!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Personal Attention!

I was remembering recently and talking to my teenager about when I started driving, as she will be soon, and the old service center where I would go to get gas came to mind.

I would pull up to the station and the attendant (Mr. Cooper) would come out and say hello, know me by name, asked about my family and then while filling my tank for me ( because I live in the great state of NJ where we don't pump our own gas!) he would have me pop the hood and check my oil.   Its been over 25 years since I started driving and I still remember this customer service!

So I was wondering if any of my clients remember the service given to them with a smile as I do now thinking about just filling up my gas tank!

In our industry of remodeling it is so important to put this kind of personal attention out there so that you are remembered over all the others out there.  Taking the time to really understand the needs of the client and to get to the core issues of why they want and need in this project will set you apart from everyone else.

There were many years I spent just going into a potential clients home and only talking about the project, bringing my "tool belt" in and never connecting with the client, only to not close many sales and it left me wondering why.  The day I decided to leave everything in the car and go out on my first appointment with a different kind of "tool belt" was the day I began closing more deals. I would go into the home and not even ask about the project first, I was relaxed, sat at the kitchen table with them and asked open ended questions to allow them to tell me all the reasons why this project was to be done.  Many laughs and good conversations later we would then head to the project area and begin applying what they had told me to the area needing to be done.  It was all very relaxed and when I left my clients felt like they had made a new friend as well as found the right fit for them, all because I gave them the personal attention they needed.

In the end I'm sure you all can remember one person who gave you this personal attention as I do from 25 years ago, take that and make sure all your clients feel the same way, not only will they remember you but they will be sure to tell everyone else about you!

“….Coleen, It has been a delight to this point dealing with you. You have been polite, professional and a pleasure to speak with……You have renewed my enthusiasm in this project.  You captured our conversation quite thoroughly!.....”   Sincerely, Theresa
Performance Review Excerpt, Homeowner

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Greatest Business Influence

I was asked a question once on an interview, “Who was your greatest business influence, Coleen?”  keep in and I've been working in the Design/Build business for several years and have met many wonderful, influential people, but I paused for only a second and my answer was “My Mom and Dad!” 

In all my time as an adult (a good 23 years) working, I have jumped from job to job to further my career, never having any one company value a good employee just worried about themselves or when you made too much  how could they get the same for less. (And they always do!) I thought through all of this how my Father has been with the same company for at least 40 years and my Mother was a dedicated Mother, coach, wife, aunt, daughter, cook, I could go on and on for 20 years (I’m pretty sure she hasn't stopped being any of them with any of us!) and after and through all of that worked for 25 years in our school system. Both my parents went back to college through all of this and earned their degrees.  They never missed a day of work, never complained, were dedicated and loyal and stuck it out though even the very hard scary times they encountered while working at these places.  I don’t know any person in my age group that can say that, or be even remotely close to that.  

My Mother will be retiring this year from my high school after 25 years, and my Father (we joke will never retire) is planning his exit soon too.  They have taught me more in just what they did then they ever could have told me.  I bring my Father’s dedication and drive to every job and my Mother’s wit and charm!  

So back to my interview….”who was your greatest business influence, Coleen?”  I simply replied “my Mom & Dad, there is no greater influence on a child than a parent and I have two very amazing parents!”

Thanks Mom and Dad

Your loving daughter, Coleen

p.s. they loved my answer, offered me the job but I turned it down….just in case you were wondering!