Five years after meeting as interns at a homebuilder, Dan Gring and Brennan Reichenbach struck out on their own as remodelers. As interns, the duo “always seemed to have the best customer service scores in [their] division,” Reichenbach says.
When the homebuilding business where they got their start was hit hard by the recession, the pair “decided to hedge the risk and start small, instead of jumping into homebuilding,” Reichenbach says. They rapidly learned that there were substantial, defining differences between homebuilding and remodeling. “Somebody lives in this place you’re about to renovate,” Gring explains. “So more circumstances and variables go into your planning and budgeting process.”
The company that started in 530 square feet of office space five years ago is currently building a 1,200-square-foot design center.
- Designing for the way clients live. Gring or Reichenbach “ask them generalized questions. How many kids, how old are the kids, pets, before we start talking about the specifics of the project,” and “diving into the details.” Those details could be, for instance, what kind of shampoo do you use, so that wall niches of suitable height can be incorporated accordingly.
- Using a flow chart to track the movement from phone call (Gring and Reichenbach “are the sales team,”) fielded by the owners, through design, estimating, project manager introduction, and preconstruction meeting in a process that’s designed to be collaborative throughout, not only within the company but between company and client,
- Communicating among staff and with clients via BuilderTREND. About 95% of clients “are totally into it,” Gring says. The company includes information on BuilderTREND in its sales packet and “we will walk and talk them through” use of the software. Since a fair number of clients arrive home after the workers have left the jobsite for the day, this allows them to track job progress.
- Building business through a referral network, whether that be the Young Entrepreneurs Club, the Chamber of Commerce of Berks County, architects, designers, or the top realtor at Century 21, paying 1% to 3% depending on the size of the job, for solid leads. Conversion rate on proposals has steadily gone up and job size has risen.
- Five years ago, D&B took on just about any kind of job. Today, as job size has increased dramatically, a strategic goal is to “refine our services and focus on those five core competency sectors of our business,” i.e., the large jobs that bring volume, profit and a level of client satisfaction that results in referrals.