Is Design-Build for You?

Because of the current economic climate, one of the words you’ve undoubtedly been hearing is “diversification”. One of the numerous definitions for the word “diversification” is: “the expansion of a commercial organization or enterprise into new areas of business.” In these trying times, remodelers need to expand into new areas of business to generate additional cash flow. My suggestion is to add design and/or architecture to your service offerings.

There are several reasons to provide both design and build services. The most obvious is your role in the project is expanded, so you can make more money.

The second reason to offer design-build services is that you maintain control throughout the process. You can manage the remodeling process from the initial client contact through design, build, the warranty and even beyond. Of course, this complete control is accompanied by complete, “one-stop” accountability.

This one-stop accountability is the third reason to offer a bundled service. Face it, most clients are not conversant in what we do. If something goes wrong, and the architect blames the builder, and the builder points the finger at the architect, the client really does not know what to do. With a single source, the client knows where to turn — to you. True, this increases the pressure on you to deliver, but if you are a professional, that is what you want.

Fourth, design-build clients are likely to be less price-sensitive than design only clients. These clients are more interested in the one-stop accountability mentioned above, the ease and convenience of working with a single provider, and the end result. They generally are willing to pay a higher price for these benefits.

Finally, providing both design and build services gives you more time to develop a deep relationship with the client. Your client will have a greater opportunity to get to know you, your company and your design-build system. This should increase the likelihood of your getting more referrals from this client. And because those referrals will be for design and build, the projects will be larger and more profitable as well.

So, how do you get design-build clients? As with any product or service, finding effective ways to attract prospective clients takes time and patience. To attract design-build clients, remodelers must learn how to market themselves as design-build experts. This means:

  • Showcase the primary benefits of the design/build process: ease and convenience, and one-stop accountability.
  • Demonstrate your brand as the best provider of these services. Use high-quality photos, client testimonials, etc.
  • Be professional in your appearance and presentation.

In conclusion, residential design-build is becoming a larger and, thus, more competitive segment of the remodeling market. With its emergence as a recognized delivery system for the remodeling product, through necessity, it brings with it the need for even greater professionalism. As the number of established design-build firms grows, it is imperative that serious remodelers differentiate themselves from the competition. How? Through marketing, best practices, continuous improvement and lastly, talented and committed team members!

I would like to digress and talk about our current economic situation as it relates specifically to the remodeling industry. Companies in our industry have long engaged in head-to-head competition in search of sustained, profitable growth. They have fought for competitive advantage, battled over market share and struggled for differentiation. In these distressing times, smart companies will not abandon these principles. Companies that stay true to their beliefs and promote professionalism will survive. Get involved with either NAHBR or NARI to expand your horizons and stay the course.

To that end, many of you may be picking up this issue at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas. The show is a great place for networking, taking advantage of the endless educational seminars offered, walking the exhibit floor looking for new products, and visiting with previous vendors to make sure you would still like to be associated with them. If you see me walking the exhibit floor or in a seminar, say hello.

Finally, as I reflected on what I want to accomplish in 2009, both professionally and personally, I came upon the following outstanding quote: “We are in the business of preserving and improving human life. All of our actions must be measured by our success in achieving this goal.” — Merck & Company, Internal Management Guide