6. I like to focus on the fact that we are operating at a much more manageable pace in both the office and the field. While there is the constant stress of not having the 6 – 9 month backlog that we were used to, there is the benefit that we aren’t running at 110 miles an hour trying to meet all of the client needs associated with multiple high end projects. Although we have a larger number of jobs with smaller selling prices, we have less details in need of attention. Screened in porches, decks, bath upgrades just don’t require the same amount of diligent attention and product research as a high end historic restorations. So there’s the added stress of a more unpredictable backlog, but the benefit of a little time to breathe and catch up administratively. We haven’t changed our business model as of this time. We still employ a full time designer/estimator and a part time assistant, our bookkeeper, an administrative assistant and eight field employees. We are a husband and wife team and our sales approach has remained constant: we sell a process, a service and our expertise. The scopes of the projects have changed but how we approach each project and the care we extend in carrying out the production of each project has not. We still love what we do!
House Works LLC
Prior to the 2008 economic problems, House Works had been petitioning various insurance companies to do their restoration work. At the time, it was believed this work would be a good adjunct profit center to the company’s home repair and remodeling business. As it turned out, this insurance restoration work grew substantially over the years and soon more than overcame our loss of remodeling business due the 2008 economic slowdown. It now represents approximately 85% of House Works revenues and it has increased company sales threefold since 2008.
Castle Building & Remodeling, Inc.
1. I believe it has changed. Having been in the industry since 2002 I only know two cycles: boom and brakes. What’s in store for the future? More brakes. Consumers thinking twice before spending and making smarter and longer term investments in their homes.
2. The ability to change. A good quote I like to share with my employees is from - General Eric Shinseki (U.S. Army Chief of Staff) "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less."
3. We have shifted from a company that focused on selling large projects over $100k to a company that specializes in kitchens and baths with an average projects size of $18,000.00.
4. Never say never. We brought labor back in-house so we could be really competitive on bathroom remodeling.
5. The opportunity to employ really good people who want to work hard and are willing to work for fair wage.
6. More focused, much larger, more efficient, and better managed.
Rhett Wilborn, Owner
Innovative Home Concepts, Inc.
Crystal Lake, Ill.
1. Since the end of 2008 the remodeling business has definitely changed dramatically, in fact, it's almost unrecognizable. The housing boom leading up to the big recession seems almost like a dream now. We had more leads than we knew what to do with and even a poor sales rep could close like a pro. Since then nothing is easy, leads are treated like delicate china, and our sales people need to be on top of their games just to make things happen. But like everything, there is a cycle. It appears we are at the bottom of the cycle now and in the next few years the companies that are still around, if they take advantage, should grow steadily.
3. We have completely changed the way we do business. Instead of spending 100% of our efforts on attracting new customers, we have implemented systems and procedures to cultivate our relationships with our existing customers. Early in 2009, we held a meeting, as a company, to determine what direction we wanted our company to go. Out of that meeting, came the mission statement that had guided us to this point, "To make Happy Customers and Lifelong Clients". Every new system, new procedure, and new employee is implemented, measured, and accessed based on achieving this mission. We want to be the company with the happiest customers who wouldn't think about hiring anyone else to work on their homes.
5. The changing market has given us the strength, (or rather the push in the back) that we needed to expand and diversify our product offerings. We were a one pony show for years and would never even consider going out of our comfort zone. As things slowed down, we realized we needed to expand our offerings, not only to attract new customers, but also to offer our existing customers more services and our company more opportunity for additional sales.
6. We have tightened margins, expanded services, implement procedures to measure performance, but most importantly we have aligned the company behind a single goal, to make happy customers and lifelong clients. This has led to a huge increase in referrals, repeat customers, proud employees, lower marketing costs, and higher profit margins.
Rick Johnson, General Manager