Secrets of success

It’s the beginning of the year, which means it’s time to reveal results of our annual market forecast survey. I can tell you that 78 percent of remodelers who completed the survey have an outlook on 2014 that is either excellent or good; only 3 percent have an outlook described as poor. The results begin on page 30.

We never have enough room in print to share all the survey results, nor do we have room in the article to include all the verbatim comments from remodelers who took the survey. This time, we will address this problem in two ways. First, we will include additional charts and graphs on our website for your review. Second, I will include within this page the more interesting comments submitted by remodelers from across the country.

Our survey asked remodelers to describe the single most important action they took in 2013 to keep their remodeling businesses successful. The secrets of their success are what follow. First, the most common responses from multiple remodelers:

  • Continued what we do best.
  • Kept work local; repeat customers.
  • Concentrated on marketing to past clients and their referrals.
  • Dialed back on random marketing attempts and focused more on direct marketing to key demographic consumers.

This next group of comments was interesting and possibly not for everyone, but is worth sharing even if you don’t agree with all of them:

  • Continued our normal focus but accepted more, smaller projects than usual.
  • Added an outside salesperson with a design background.
  • Charged for design services.
  • Focused on what we do, and not what we sell.
  • Changed project focus from strictly single-family residential projects to also taking on small specialized commercial and small multi-family projects.
  • At the start of the year, I employed the services of a lead generation company with the intent of filling the gaps in my schedule. This service added about 15 percent growth to my bottom line.
  • Kept overhead low and tight.
  • Followed up with clients after the project in a special “download” meeting where I listened (and don’t talk!) about what went well and what could have gone better.
  • Went 100 percent virtual/no sales people.

Many survey respondents submitted comments that, to me, are common-sense no-brainers. Here they are:

  • We kept our contractors happy.
  • Worked with the right people by qualifying them early in the process, and only took as much work as I could handle.
  • Follow the lead of the client; listen better and speak less.
  • Created solid budgets/plans for the next three years that allow me to know all of my costs.
  • Charged clients what I was worth versus competing with less qualified contractors. Focused on quality over price, informed clients of my experience/education, dedication to my job versus that of others. Thus my cost is higher, but product is better/higher quality.
  • Stuck to our prices and did not drop them.

If you have similar thoughts to share, do so at or send email to