Richmond has a consummate understanding of sales and marketing. Think sports strategy—innovative, nimble, bold, but with a sense of fun in the game.
“Nick is a marketing genius,” says marketing director Jeremiah Royer. He meets with Richmond every Tuesday and then directs the marketing plays. Royer uses online maps to target neighborhoods. Newer construction in suburban Chicago is their main arena. One office wall has a large whiteboard with lists of upcoming events. There are the job signs, the brochures, a website, search engine optimization for the website, videos, testimonials, trade and home show appearances, a social media strategy, and even phony $100 bills with Ben Franklin on the front and information about Matrix on the back. But the “special sauce,” Royer says, “is the Open House program.” (Read about open house rules.)
Begun two years ago, the Open House program alone costs Matrix about $30,000 per month. That’s not a typo. Many remodelers who see Richmond’s success and come to him asking about selling the system walk away when they hear what he spends on this campaign. But after a “crazy weekend of Open Houses recently,” says Richmond, sales reps set 80 appointments and will close about 20% net. “Obviously sales cancel or are rejected by financing, but 20% usually are good, installed basements.” The average sale is $27,000, so from 80 set leads Matrix will net about $430,000 in sales—from just one weekend.
Holding an open house at which a project is shared with prospective clients is not a new idea. But the way Matrix runs its open houses is. At the point of sale, homeowners are given a discount if they choose to participate. If they don’t take advantage of the discount up front but choose to hold an open house after the project is completed, they can receive “proceeds” from the event. For every lead generated by their open house, Matrix pays the homeowners $50. They also get 1% of all net basement contracts that result from their event.
Matrix sends salespeople called “promoters” to work the event. Several of Matrix’s promoters are former clients who are so happy with the system that they are willing to go to other people’s homes to help sell the product. They work part-time as 1099 employees, and they go through a sales training program to enable them to answer questions and objections. “But we don’t give them all the answers,” Royer says. “We want prospects to call us.”
Royer arms promoters with an “Open House Bag” that includes a sample of the Matrix panel with a chase, and booties, a lead sheet, a piece of drywall and 2x4 (what Royer calls, “the competition”), and a jar of water with drywall soaking in it.
They show videos of the installation process and testimonials. “It’s a wonderful gig,” says Jerry Rottman, a retiree who had a Matrix Basement System installed a few years ago and now works at Matrix’s open houses several times a month. “I like the product so much—this was a no-brainer for me.”
Richmond wants to see sales calls done between 48 and 72 hours after someone has been to an open house. Salespeople get prequalified leads, many of whom have visited four or five open houses. Those prospects are usually ready to buy when the sales call occurs. Matrix offers financing to help with the money challenge.
Royer’s two main avenues for advertising open houses are Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), from the U.S. Postal Service, and coupon magazines. Royer describes EDDM as “cheap, targeted marketing for small business,” which allows for 5,000 mailers per drop. For each open house—and there might be 10 to 12 in a month—Royer hand delivers 3,500 pieces to the post office. Matrix does the graphic design on the large mailers, which are printed (out of house) on thick paper. Mailers announce the open houses and include “a Google map, driving directions, and a hook,” Royer says.
The other big marketing piece is advertisements in Clipper Magazine and Save On Everything, two coupon publications that reach a combined 2 million households. The ad, usually a double-page spread, includes a box listing all the upcoming open house events.
To reach as many people as possible, Barrick says, “We hit the same area over and over. Think basement. Think Matrix. We haven’t saturated all the neighborhoods, yet. It may take [touching them] 10 times before [people] come to an open house.”
Richmond knows he needs volume for the open house program, but, he says, that while he wouldn’t mind being the biggest and the most profitable, “Volume is for vanity and profit is for sanity.” He is laser-focused on the profit end game, and that begins with his passion: selling.