David Mullikin was involved in every facet of the business for the first 10 years of owning his business. These days, Mullikin has a team to handle that end of things. A major activity for him is client acquisition. “Our focus is more who our client is than the project type,” he says. “It’s not like we prefer a kitchen, a bath, or an addition so much as the client that values what we value.”
Clients come from two main sources: Networking for referrals, and the photos and copy (written by Laurel Mullikin) that are posted on Houzz. Notably, Infinite Home’s Houzz site doesn’t just show projects, but also pictures of David and Laurel. “If we’re going to be in the client’s house six to nine months, they have to like us and not be afraid to ask questions,” David says.
- On Houzz, visitors to the Infinite Home site don’t only see a splendid project, they see David and Laurel, a husband and wife team. “We make it people-focused. If we’re going to be in the client’s house six to nine months. They have to like us and not be afraid to ask questions.”
- The Mullikins have, until recently, worked on designs, and a preliminary estimate, together. Lately the couple has been partnering with interior designers to keep up with demand as they put together what they need for a “buildable project.”
- Infinite Home uses BuildTools to manage everything from the design through production, including change orders, purchase orders, and invoices. “Advanced schedules, budgets, and selections are all posted so that the client can go in and approve them. Jobs are managed onsite by a project manager, who posts progress photos daily, and a lead carpenter, who provides another level of job supervision. The software program, implemented three years ago, “revolutionized our company,” David says.
- The key to job profitability, David says, is cost controls based on “accurate bidding and realistic numbers.” That’s particularly effective in a business model that uses relatively little direct labor. “If I’m paying a framer $3,000 to frame a basement, if it takes one day or one week, that’s what it costs," David says. "If I had my own crew doing it, and I budgeted three days and it took five, I just lost money.” Labor is 5% in-house, 95% subcontracted, and the added layer of onsite supervision—something recent—has made a big difference in retaining customer satisfaction.
- Every other Friday, at noon, the Mullikins take employees to a nearby Mexican restaurant. “We don’t talk business. We just have fun and enjoy a meal,” David says. A big part of the company’s success stems from its win/win attitude, whether with subcontractors, suppliers, employees, or clients. “We care about our employees and we want them going home with a smile on their faces," David says. "And we’re looking out for our clients’ benefit as much as for our own. They can feel it.”