Educational Focus Differentiates Remodeling Firm

Frisco, TX — They say you should learn something new every day, and John Todd wants to make sure his clients do, too.

Todd, CAPS, CGR, CGP, CSP, CSM, owner of Elite Remodeling, has made it his business to educate both his clients and his staff, investing in whatever tools are necessary to ensure prospective clients can make educated decisions about their project.

He states: “Elite has been in business since January, 2002 and we have invested in education and software, as well as remodeling our own Showroom & Design Center to improve our skills, capabilities and ability to adequately and innovatively display [our products and services] to our prospects.”

But Todd recognizes that it’s not just technology, education or even the showroom itself that requires an investment. He also believes that firms must invest in top-of-the-line customer service in order to win and retain business.

He states: “We believe in overwhelming customer service. We work hard to learn from our miscues and ensure we are constantly improving, be it with gross margin, close ratio, customer satisfaction rates or referral rates.”

The Right Staff

Of course a great business begins with a great staff. And Todd cites his talented staff as key to his ongoing success.

Currently, the firm has five employees, including three NARI Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodelers, one Certified Remodeler, one NAHB Certified Graduate Remodeler, two Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists and two Certified Green Professionals.

Todd himself is a member on the NKBA’s Builder/Advisory Council, and he says he intends to have a CKD or CBD on staff in the near future.

He states: “Because we believe in education, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our overall business and construction skills through education. In fact, Elite has more certifications among our staff than any other Dallas remodeler.”

With all this combined expertise, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the firm has won numerous awards over the years, including being named the ARC “Remodeler of the Year,” an award that is presented annually by the Greater Dallas Home Builders Association. The ARC awards were created to recognize excellence in custom building and remodeling in approximately 60 categories, which include everything from Best CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) to Best Green Built Home to Outstanding Service by a Building Services Associate.

Elite also took home additional 2009 ARC awards for “Best Addition Under $100,000” and “Best CAPS Remodel,” which the firm won for the third straight year, Todd notes.

Super Center

While a talented staff is essential to the firm’s success, Elite also benefits from its 1,800-sq.-ft. Showroom and Design Center “where prospective customers can see not only the construction quality that Elite brings to the marketplace, but also meet the Elite team and judge their breadth of knowledge and creative approaches to residential remodeling,” according to Todd.

He explains: “One of the great differentiators in our business is that we are a general contractor specializing in kitchens, bathrooms and room additions. And by having a retail Showroom & Design Center, we allow our customers to visit us, inspect our quality and craftsmanship and get to know us so they can determine if we are the type of company they would like to work with.”

Location is important to any business, and Elite is no exception. Todd notes: “Our Showroom & Design Center is located in a high-volume residential traffic area, across from one of North Texas’ largest retail shopping malls and directly across from a Lowe’s store.”

While some might view it as problematic being located across from a major home center, Todd does not see this as a disadvantage for his service-oriented firm at all.

Unlike many home centers, which focus on volume and individual product displays, Elite relies heavily on vignettes to showcase unique design ideas.

He states: “Rather than have multiple plumbing fixtures, we have vignettes built out that reflect our skills and capabilities. This allows us to walk a customer around to showcase different environments where different types of products are utilized.”

Displays feature a variety of products from various business partners, such as Kent Moore Cabinets, Capital Distributing, Arizona Tile, Morrison Plumbing, Stone Channel, Meletio, Lee Lighting and Jetta Tubs, among others.

To attract its desired client base, the firm uses a simple, yet effective technique. “First we draw a 15-mile radius around our showroom and do our best to stay inside that circle,” he says. “Then, we target home values at $200k to $600k. Our research and experience tells us that this market wants a quality product at a fair price, but most importantly, these customers want to know their remodeler will be there providing a high level of customer service.”

Areas of Expertise

Like most smart businesses, Elite has defined specific areas of expertise that provide strong points of differentiation for the firm. Two of these areas are aging-in-place and green design.

“The reason we picked [accessibility] as one of the areas that we focus on is because in our target market, there are a lot of elderly people who have elected to move to Texas for personal income tax reasons, so they want to make their homes more accessible. It is a booming business and one of the more rewarding home improvement projects you can do. We actually have an accessible shower here in our showroom where we can show people exactly what it will look like in the shower, how to use it, how a roll-in curb works, etc.”

He continues: “We use 20/20 as our software tool to graphically and virtually show our customers a before-and-after version of their pending renovation. We always embrace the opportunity to show an architectural view, a virtual view and finally a color rendering of the project.”

Eco-friendly design is another area of expertise for Elite, and the firm has two certified green professionals (CGP) on staff who focus on three particular areas of green design.

“One is called heat transfer, the next is called moisture management, and the third is called air flow. We attack all those aspects in our remodeling projects. For instance, we look at using energy efficient windows, doors and weather guards,” he points out. “In the end, it’s about making sure the homes are energy efficient, and minimizing heat loss,” he maintains.

In the bath, moisture is a critical issue. He notes: “We make sure that the shower systems have the right ventilation, that they are installed properly and that they don’t leak, relative to the shower and tub areas.”

He concludes: “Above all else, we want to make it that [the client can have a worry-free experience]. That’s what it’s all about.”