In the upper-end, referral-based custom home market, so many builders make a comfortable living with little or no marketing — some even brag about it. Larry Basil and Terri Crittenden take a proactive and detailed business approach to their design/build firm, Basil Crittenden LLC, of Northfield, Ill. They understand the value of a dedicated marketing plan and how it can be used to maintain the company’s success and flexibility in a revolving doorlike market.
Like many design/build firms, Basil Crittenden had generated most of its leads on referrals. 2001 was a banner year, and while the market was still strong entering 2002, the seven-year-old firm wanted to make the commitment to maintain that level of business despite a growing number of external market factors that threatened industry growth — a rising number of competitors, a national disaster, struggling economy. They wanted to continue to grow the business and pursue more expensive projects without increasing the number of jobs.
To maintain that level of success, they hired a full-time sales and marketing person in 2002. This approach has helped insulate the company and has allowed it to continue to be selective about the projects it gets involved in.
“One thing we’ve found is that it’s important for us to build a stronger brand in this market,” Basil says. “We want to be able to showcase our experiences, our efforts, our philosophy.”
While many firms were bracing for a hit and tightening budgets, Basil Crittenden was making plans to bring in another person to work on establishing a stronger market presence.
“I’ve heard many people say when the market slows they cut their advertising,” says Crittenden. “We’ve taken an opposite approach.”
BASIL CRITTENDEN LLC
Full-time employees: 12
Industry memberships: AIA
Annual design/build projects: 60 percent
Residential remodeling: 50 percent
Residential new construction: 50 percent
Average annual revenue (including sales, overhead): $5 to $7 million