Qualified Remodeler Magazine

DEC 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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is ill, you have another project manager or lead carpenter to put in their place. Does the other frm use all subcontractors vs. employees? Subcontractors don't take own- ership of the whole project. Having in-house employees helps you control and deliver on the budget and schedule. If your competitor is a fellow association or peer review member, you know they have a certain level of pro- fessionalism. If he or she is the same lev- el as you, then you know it's not about price — it's about some other value. You need to fnd out what the client val- ues and sell to that. We might mention our staf architects and the selections guidance we ofer. More than any- thing, knowing your competitors provides you with discussion points — points that may negate them as competitors. In a competitive situation, you will lose or win; either way, you need to know why. If you know your competition, you will know why you won or lost. | need remodeling work or to ask them to refer your frm to their family and friends. Visiting your competitor's websites and reading online reviews will also provide in- sight into the services they provide. At our company, we recently created a spreadsheet of our competitors that includes information gathered online. HOW TO USE THE INFORMATION Your competitor's business model inherently speaks to their strengths and weaknesses. If they are a contractor, we tell the client that we are a design/build frm. If the other frm is a design/build frm, we ask the client if they know how they handle the design segment. Is it an in-house designer or is the design subcon- tracted? When you ask that question, it educates the client about researching that topic with the competitor. If our competitor is a small frm or one that is new to the industry, we know that their overhead is low, so their pric- es will be lower. If you know you can't compete on price, you have to sell the client the value of your frm. You can be frank with the client and say you won't be able to compete on price against that sole proprietor contractor. Point out that also means if something happens to that contractor, there may not be anyone to take over and complete the project. Tell them that in your larger frm, if someone our clients are talking to other frms. You know that. However, if you are familiar with the services ofered by your competitors, it al- lows you to play to their weaknesses and sell to your strengths. Tere are diferent ways of gathering in- formation about your competitors. Te best source is potential clients. During your frst meeting with the potential client, ask them to share the names of the frms they are re- viewing. Sometimes you don't even need to ask — you'll see the competitor's collateral on their kitchen table. If they are reluctant to share or ask why you want to know, you can respond by saying that the name of the frm is not important, but that you're interested in the type of frms they have contacted. Is it a construction-only frm? An architect? Or a design/build frm? While you're walking around their home, observe if they have had any remodeling work done in the past. Ask who completed that project and if they are also considering that frm for this project. If they are meeting with the frm they used in the past, this could be an indicator that they asked to meet with you to check that con- tractor's price. Even after a client hires your frm, you can still ask them about your competition. Ask them why they chose your frm and if they are willing to share those other proposals with you. If a client doesn't hire your frm, contact them around the time they should be through with the design portion of the project. Ask them how things are going. Check in again when you think the project should be com- pleted. Many times, they will say they wish they hired your frm. Tat's an opportunity to ask them to contact you the next time they Know your competition By Christopher K. Landis " If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles." — Sun Tzu, The Art of War Y CHRISTOPHER K. LANDIS is a licensed architect in three states and partner in Landis Construction Corp., Washington, D.C. More than anything, knowing your competitors provides you with discussion points — points that may negate them as competitors. 16 December 2014 QR ForResidentialPros.com PROFITS: On Your Business

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