Ben and Stephanie Trannel learned how to operate their remodeling business during the lean years right after the downturn. In hindsight, Ben acknowledges that the timing wasn’t perfect, but operating under such tight conditions has ultimately benefitted the growing Red House Remodeling. “That first year, we struggled with volume,” he says. “It would’ve been nicer to start when there was more work available, but starting when the economy was down helped us get our legs under us, helped us learn how we wanted to run it before we became overwhelmed.”
Initially started as a Case Design/Remodeling franchise, the Trannels ultimately decided to go independent so they could focus on building relationships in the community. “We have a lot of respect for Case,” says Ben. For a year we decided to think about why we’re here. This is a personal business.”
That personal touch has informed their sales process. Once the scope of the project is set, Ben talks to each homeowner to learn why they want the project completed. “Honesty is the biggest way. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting too personal. I ask, ‘How long are you going to be in this house, why do you want to do it?’”
- Giving customers the most information about why a project costs what it does is key to setting expectations. “I reference Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value every day,” says Ben.
- Red House Remodeling still uses some licensed software from its days as a franchise. “It’s challenging enough to start a good job and a business!” said Ben.
- Growing the business so employees can specialize has been key to lowering turnover. “The profile of the employee we hire is a little bit sharper; they’ll want to go out and start their own business,” says Ben. “What we’ve really tried to focus on is being large enough that people can specialize. Every year our goal is to make this a tough place to leave.”