Perfect Home, Perfect Business

Something a real estate broker said on public radio really struck a chord. Her comments could go down as a mini epitaph for the home-crazed age we now inhabit. The program was a day-in-the-life profile of the broker, her thoughts voiced over a backdrop of a client tour of a 6,000 sq.-ft. $2.85 million city home. It was in her description of marble vanities that she interjected the following.

“People want their house to look like a Pottery Barn ad. People are really into perfection right now. And they will pay for it.”

OK. Maybe “epitaph for our age” is too strong. But there is something unbalanced about our current culture of home-craving. And there is no denying that much of the home-price run-up can be attributed to those buyers, in any given market, who will pay for perfection: perfect trim carpentry, the latest professional-grade appliances, etc.

This broker’s sentiments also neatly represent the world that many remodelers contend with each day. Some remodelers really know how to work with people who are obsessed with perfection. Others know themselves well enough to consciously steer clear. They feel no price is worth the potential aggravation of the Pottery Barn perfectionist. But don’t be too quick to walk away from the paint-chip toters yet.

Retentive though they may be, many perfectionists are also discerning collectors of large bank accounts. Why not try to get inside their world, one-up their perfectionism, and crack open their hedge-fund earnings? If you turn yourself into a retentive remodeler in the process, you are not likely to run out of clients until you are ready to hang it up.

I am reminded of a speech given by a very successful celebrity chef who, when confronted with a room full of builders and remodelers, took the opportunity to list grievances against his contractor who must have certainly been badgered into an early grave while remodeling this man’s restaurant. Case-in-point, the famous chef retold how, in the dead of night, he personally tore out and replaced a perfectly good sidewalk in front of his building as well as the alley behind it. He wanted to perfect every part of his property, as well as adjoining city property, to ensure a flawless customer experience at his eatery.

Later in his talk, he described a litany of borderline-obsessive duties performed each day at the restaurant. The entire kitchen is scrubbed top to bottom. All leftover food is hauled to food banks. And some poor soul must hose and scrub the emptied trash bin out back. Through his talk, though he barely mentioned food, the chef managed to convince every builder and remodeler in his audience to eat at his restaurant, despite an enormously high-priced menu.

Over-the-top, attention-to-detail like this is a recipe for success, especially in a market driven by perfectionists who will stop at nothing to get what they want. The trick is conveying your obsessed vision for the perfect remodeling experience.