Because of his personal experience, Glickman is more inclined to market his work with special-needs clients. His website shows a photo of him with his son Mike and explains how Glickman was the primary caregiver for an aging parent. “I’ve been through all these things personally, and I made mistakes, so I can save people some steps from my own experience. This is a specialty, and it helps me stand out from competitors.”
Glickman recently hired a part-time marketing assistant to reach out to more professionals who may be able to provide him with referrals. The list includes occupational therapists, physical therapists, pediatricians who specialize in kids with special needs, speech therapists, elder-care physicians, geriatric case managers, rehab centers, social workers and financial planners. “I’ve even connected with a reverse-mortgage specialist because people can pay for a large remodel using a reverse mortgage,” he says.
Taddei knows a UDCP who markets himself as the only universal design certified professional in his area, and it has paid off. “He’s able to work with the local university and a couple local hospitals, which provide clients for him. This skill set offers you a much broader source of revenue in terms of more opportunities and prospective clients.” (To read more about marketing yourself as a UDCP, see “NARI Recertification,” May issue, page 12.)
Remodeling is a service industry that requires its professionals to be “people people.” Designing and remodeling for clients with special needs takes this service industry to another level, requiring a level of compassion traditional remodeling doesn’t elicit. “The people who embrace UDCP are passionate people,” Taddei says. “They’re passionate about the process and really like to help others. It’s a different type of remodeling, and they leverage that.”
Graf thinks all remodelers should consider providing these services because our lifespan is longer. “I’m 49 years old, and when you think about it, with technology, I could live to 110 or 115 years of age,” he says. “We’re living longer and we have a greater quality of life at an older age. It’s our duty to make houses functional so we can live in them comfortably much longer.”
Glickman advises remodelers interested in offering special-needs services to invest in a certification, read some books about universal design and ask someone to consult on their first few jobs. “I think remodelers should connect with a mentor for the first few jobs and even later if they want a second opinion about how to solve a problem.”
Glickman, Graf, Sevon and Taddei agree remodeling for someone with special needs can lead to some of the most rewarding jobs a firm undertakes. Glickman sums it up: “One of the things I like about this line of business is that you can really help these people and make a difference in their lives.”