After spending 25 days or more per month straining mind and muscle to sell, build and finish kitchens, baths or other projects, why would remodelers consider adding another weekend morning or weekday evening to their busy schedules? The answer: to hold workshops for prospective clients and/or seminars for tradespersons, like designers, decorators, architects and other subcontractors.
Although this has not caught on with all remodelers, those who do offer workshops are true believers in the value of these educational and promotional efforts.
Remodelers who have begun implementing workshops have tweaked their approaches until they find what works best in their area. Some choose to host workshops for homeowners about educational topics, hoping to create a level of trust that may lead to sales. Others prefer to host workshops for trades who may become partners, leading to joint job opportunities.
Kitchen and Bath Focus
Jeremy Hussey, sales and marketing director for College City Design Build, Lakeville, Minn., explains, “The success of our consumer-oriented workshops can be seen in how they help us get our name out there, help us convert leads into sales and help us get new leads.”
When College City Design Build began its workshop program, it offered eight to 10 workshops per year but now conducts four or five. Hussey says: “We don’t want our staff to burn out. We have to make sure they are fresh for the customers in the morning.”
The firm also modified its presentation. Instead of reporting about the whole array of projects the firm does, the meetings now concentrate on kitchens and baths, the areas in which attendees have shown the greatest interest. The events are held at the showrooms of two College City Design Build vendors.
“Typically, I am one of the speakers at the workshops,” Hussey says. “I talk about how to choose a remodeler, explain our process and give a history of the company. Then I turn it over to our designer who goes over design trends and case studies. Then we have the attendees go with one of the in-house reps from the showroom to look at appliances or plumbing fixtures to show them options and what the latest trends are. We wrap things up with a question-and-answer session. And, of course, we allow time to talk with customers about their own potential projects.”
Typically, a session will last from 90 minutes to two hours. “There’s no charge, and we even provide refreshments,” Hussey says.
He adds: “We promote the events with e-blasts to all of our past customers and current and past prospects. These e-blasts go out shortly before the sessions, as well as at the beginning of the year and at the end of the summer, when we want to remind people about our fall schedule. We also do ads in the local paper. Our host vendors will do co-op advertising with us and have info in the store about upcoming seminars.”
Although the results of each workshop are independent of all others, Hussey estimates that, on average, about 10 couples come to each program with about 35 percent of these converting to projects.
For Milwaukee’s TimothyJ Kitchen & Bath Inc., which runs programs aimed at professionals, the key reason for workshops is to develop long-term friendships and connections that someday may result in working partnerships.
Timothy J. Benkowski, president, says, “Our specific goal is to bring industry people into our studio so they become familiar with the location and, more importantly, to tell them how we are different from our perceived competition.”