Volume 13, Issue 1 - January/February 2012


Guarantee New Business
31 Reasons Why and How You Should be Targeting Remodelers

Want to work with remodelers but don’t know how to get started? Suppliers, lumberyards, door and window dealers, and others, can all benefit from working with remodelers, according to Paul Winans, facilitator and consultant for Remodelers Advantage, based in Laurel, Md. Winans works with remodeling companies, speaks to various groups and is a former remodeler himself with more than 40 years of experience in the industry. Think price is among the top items remodelers consider when choosing a supplier? Think again. Winans says a job rarely goes to the lowest bidder.

Here are a few items Winans suggests are crucial.

1. Become a preferred provider. The goal: make sure your company is the only one contacted by a specific remodeler. You will become a trusted partner in the process and the go-to source when advice or information is needed. “Most design-build firms that work with these companies don’t get multiple bids,” says Winans.

2. Pay attention and you will win the business. Avoid looking at remodelers as the same, says Winans. Get to know your remodeling buyers and you will get their business.

3. Don’t write them off. “The remodeling industry is coming back,” says Winans. “If you stick with them they will never forget you.”

4. Give them what they want in terms of products. According to a SPECSpan survey of remodeling contractors, the following are most important when it comes to product selection: delivery is correct and defect-free, supplier response to mistakes/defects, a solid, dependable warranty, a brand you have good experience with, and a quick delivery and limited lead time.

5. Don’t focus on what they rank as least important. According to that same SPECspan survey, remodelers put co-op advertising, rebates and price (lowest initial cost) at the bottom of the list, so make sure you aren’t placing those as most significant.

“When you build a relationship with a remodeler price is even less important,” he says.

6. Give them what they want from a local supplier. According to Winans, this includes reliable delivery, brands with which you have had good experience, long-term business relationships and a good track record when it comes to special orders.

“We worked with one window company virtually the whole life of our company and I think the reason is that the salesperson assigned to our company was exceptional at making all in our company feel special and he always did what he said he would do.,” says Winans. “Having a long-term supplier means we don’t have to re-learn lessons.”

7. Don’t focus on what they rank as least important in terms of a local supplier. According to Winans, this includes a sales rep who visits regularly, design services and installation training. If you are surprised that remodelers aren’t looking for installation specifics, Winans says, “Remodelers will get their information when they need it as opposed to being forced to participate in specific programs.”

8. Deliver products on time. “Time is where remodelers make money,” says Winans. “If it means paying a little more for a positive delivery experience [remodelers] will do it.”

He adds, “If you do what you say, you will get a ton of business.”

9. Help eliminate some options. Winans says suppliers can also help whittle down the options for remodelers.

“There are 20 million choices for remodelers today when there used to be three,” he says. “There are too many choices, and how to help remodelers narrow them down is an opportunity for you.”

10. Figure out what makes you special. Winans says it’s not about product features but product benefits. For example, a wonderful latch doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t turn into window sales. “When I installed one company’s windows in my home I realized that the upper sash didn’t move easily,” says Winans. “If I knew that I wouldn’t have specified it as much.”

11. Show up. Get involved in your local remodeling association, sponsor a meeting at your showroom or join a committee. Whatever it is, it is important to get your name out there and meet remodelers.

12. Make friends first. Identify three to five remodelers you would like to know better and do just that, says Winans. Don’t ask about business—“the right ones will ask you about your business.”

13. Keep track of important items and find ways to connect. As you network with remodelers, find a reason to connect every eight weeks or so, says Winans. Send them a newspaper clipping, or get an update on the team you are sponsoring. “Personal attention gets you the business,” says Winans.

14. Stay top of mind. Along with number 13, attend remodeling functions, extend invitations to events such as baseball games, call to check in or follow-up, or send a gift at the holidays.

15. Remember the relationship is key. Winans says studies and personal experience show that “remodelers buy based on the relationship. The product is important but less so. Cost is secondary.”

16. Get to know everyone in the company. Winans warns to not just get to know the owner, but others in the company as well. “If they don’t know you, they will go elsewhere.”

17. Look to those who have remodelers’ business. Want to get remodelers’ business? Find out what suppliers work with them: Get to know those companies and ask for referrals.

18. Be the knowledge resource. Staying current regarding industry knowledge is more important than telling a remodeler everything that is new with a particular product. Instead, “share with each remodeler changes that affect each one’s buying preferences,” says Winans.

He notes that many remodelers starting out (and even some who have been in the business for years) have no industry knowledge.

“A remodeler does not want to be the product knowledge expert. [Remodelers] want you to help them navigate this process.”

19. Provide solutions to problems. There will always be problems “but what you do when there is a problem will determine whether or not you get repeat business,” says Winans. Your company likely will be judged on: fewest problems, most timely response and the best and fairest solutions.

20. Provide swift resolutions to damaged or missing parts. A great supplier gets quick results when a product is damaged, when the wrong one arrives or when it arrives incomplete. Remember, if you get it wrong, “you and the company you represent are one and the same.”

21. Bring your remodelers business. Times are challenging and remodelers are hungry for leads. So get to know what kind of business each of your remodelers are looking for, including average job size, type of project and localities in which they work, says Winans.

22. Deliver knowledge when needed. “Stay current on product knowledge so the remodeler doesn’t have to,” says Winans. “Knowledge is delivered when needed, not as it appears. For example, deliver a catalog in person and walk the individual through it instead of emailing or mailing it.

23. Move beyond the typical. Each remodeler ends up with a set of default specs, says Winans, but he tells the story of one supplier who helped a company refine its door and window specs with much success.

24. Be timely with proposals (or even early) and follow through. If you are given a deadline to submit a proposal, get yours in early. Once you submit a proposal, Winans says stage two is calling to review it. “Getting it in on time is the first step, making sure it is understood is the second,” he adds.

25. Ask, “how can I help?” Winans says remodelers do not want to be product knowledge experts as there are too many choices and features. Educate them only where needed.

26. Be easy to reach. A former remodeler himself, Winans says phone and/or text work best with this group. If a discussion creates an outcome be sure to follow through. “You are what you do, not what you say,” says Winans.

27. Show up after a product is sold. Show up for on-site measuring, says Winans.
Be available to see a product after it is delivered. “Realize a service is being sold—not just a product,” he adds.

28. Meet with other players in the process. A complex project involves several suppliers and trade contractors who blend their efforts. A good supplier will participate in those meetings but not dominate them; listening is key, says Winans.

29. Employ the best salespeople. “If you want to be successful find the best salespeople then have them train others,” says Winans. He points out that many remodeling companies have no business training and suppliers can help them with this as well (see number 30).

30. Once you have the best salespeople (see number 29), sponsor sales training for remodeling contractors. “Most of them are in the toilet because they don’t know how to sell,” says Winans.

31. Implement numbers 1-30 and don’t forget to do what you say. “When the market takes off again you will have so much business it will be incredible,” says Winans. “You won’t have to lower your prices and I strongly recommend you don’t do that.”



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