Qualified Remodeler Magazine

OCT 2014

Qualified Remodeler helps independent remodeling firms to survive, become more professional and more profitable by providing must-have business information, namely best business practices, new product information and timely design ideas.

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M any companies narrowly define marketing as advertising, but the definition is so much broader than that, and you're missing a lot of opportu- nities to share your company's brand with the world if your only focus is on ads. During a proj- ect, there are many marketing opportunities that arise to not only ensure you have a client for life, but that they recommend you to family and friends. To that end, CG&S Design- Build in Austin, Texas, custom- ized an idea from the com- mercial construction world, called a "topping out" party, to acknowledge the halfway point of a large project. In the com- mercial world, the topping out ceremony traditionally takes place around the time the final beam is set, to express thankful- ness for a safe jobsite. CG&S Design-Build is using the topping out party to help cli- ents deal with the frustrations of the disruption remodeling causes, which, in turn, creates a positive experience for the cli- ent — and gives them a word-of- mouth marketing opportunity. HOW DOES A TOPPING OUT PARTY WORK? "Our whole business model is that as a family-run company we think of clients as extended family, to the extent that they let us," says Joanna Hartman, CG&S project architect. "The topping out party allows them to meet and socialize with all of the people working for them to make this project a reality." The planning for this event generally starts once the pro- duction field manager alerts the office that the project is about two weeks away from hitting a milestone, such as the framing and sheathing being completed. After checking on the client's availability, a time and date are established and invitations are extended to everyone who works at CG&S. Although attendance isn't required, the topping out party is a chance for office staff — who might communicate with the clients via phone or email — to actually meet the clients in person, as well as see the proj- ect's progression. The actual topping off party itself is somewhat structured, with the general manager thank- ing everyone for attending and providing an introduction to the project manager, who has had the closest contact with the client at the time. The project manager makes a speech and then a stainless-steel plaque — which reads, "From our house to yours, built for (client's name), by CG&S (year)"— is presented to the clients. The plaque is both a way to involve the clients in the cer- emony, as well as to express to them the pride CG&S takes in working on their project, similar to a "made with love" tag one's grandma might sew into a hand- made garment, Hartman says. The intent is that the plaque is permanently mounted in a dis- creet location — an attic, for example — but that the client has the satisfaction of knowing it's there. "It's almost like an awards ceremony," she says. "The clients get up and talk about what the project means to them. A remod- eling project is very distressing to clients, especially if they're liv- ing in the house for the duration of it. In fact, this might be the biggest upset of their lives. This mid-project celebration helps them feel like they made it to the other side of the project." WHAT TYPES OF PROJECTS GET TOPPED OUT? The company doesn't have a magic formula for deciding which projects get a topping out ceremony. According to Hartman, a remodeling job that takes two months to build might mean the ceremony can feel like an obstruction to prog- ress on the job. It is helpful to have a feel for the client. Some clients handle the disruption of a remodeling project better than others, but for some, if they need a boost, this is one more resource in the CG&S toolkit to let them know that the company is with them in this as their proj- ect partner. In addition to being great for client outreach, the company's marketing efforts are boosted by this event. "It's a warm moment of bonding for our clients while also being a marketing oppor- tunity for us to share on social media and for the clients to share pictures of the ceremony with their friends, to share the progress being made on their remodeling project." QR M any companies get up and talk about what the Expanding marketing's definition Give your clients a boost with a 'topping out' ceremony CG&S Design-Build ForResidentialPros.com QR October 2014 57 QR has teamed up with NARI to create a convenient way to earn credits toward your recertification. After reading this issue's article, take the test for CEUs at ForResidentialPros.com/ narirecertification. By Nikki Golden, CAE | NARI Recertification :PROFITS

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