Design/Build: the Ultimate Weapon

Through offering design/build services, remodelers have the ability to manage the remodeling process from the initial client contact through the warranty and even beyond. During that time a remodeler has ultimate control over what their client (and hopefully their family and friends) perceive about them, their company, and the design/build delivery system

Residential design/build is becoming a larger segment of the remodeling market and as a result is becoming more competitive. With its emergence as a recognized delivery system for the remodeling product, through necessity, it brings with it greater professionalism. As the number of established firms grows, it is imperative that serious remodelers differentiate themselves from the competition. The next question is: “How do we do that?” The answer: marketing!

As with any product or service, finding effective ways to attract prospective clients takes time and patience. Prospects that are attracted to design/build are typically more likely to be interested in the ease of design/build and the end result, as opposed to the pennies they may save. To serve clients best, remodelers must understand the role marketing plays. In a narrow sense, marketing is the instrument that best showcases the benefits the design/build process offers, demonstrates professionalism, and specifically, associates a remodeler’s brand as the single point of delivery for those benefits. In addition, those who market effectively tend to be the most professional in our industry.

During my 15 years as a design/builder, and the 15 prior years as an architect, I have concocted my own set of “dos” and “don’ts” for marketing:


  • Maintain discipline and competency about marketing and the services you provide;
  • Have a bias toward helping your clients solve their problems;
  • Demonstrate respect whenever, and however you communicate with prospects;
  • Have genuine reasons to stay in touch (this will lead to building and maintaining long-term relationships);
  • Actively seek opportunities to connect your circle of influence for mutual benefit (leading to referrals and other business opportunities);
  • Manage your marketing like a project with a process ? because it is;
  • Recognize both what you know, and what you don’t know.


  • Never assume you have a close, personal relationship with a prospect;
  • Never force or impersonalize approaches (i.e. one size fits all follow-ups);
  • Avoid canned presentations that lack context or connection with the prospect;
  • Avoid WIIFM (what’s in it for me) rather use WIIFT (what’s in it for them);
  • Avoid random acts of follow-up without purpose or a clear intention.

Our marketing plan is a document that is constantly changing. My partner and I take the time and effort to update the plan on a yearly basis. There have been numerous factors that have affected these changes, everything from a post-9/11 economy to our decision nine years ago to stop competitively bidding on design/build projects. Whatever affects your business model needs to be accurately reflected in your marketing.

Marketing is the ultimate weapon in the conquest for design/build clientele. Those who do it well will prosper. Your first priority is to brand yourself as a design/build professional. Next, educate the public about what you do and the product and service you offer. My personal recommendation is to hire a professional marketing firm to help you create a marketing plan specifically tailored to you, and the services you offer.