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 !

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!