Shortly after completing a kitchen remodel, David Sturm donned a chef's hat and whipped up a gourmet meal for his client. Sturm, a former chef and the owner of Attention to Detail Home Remodeling, in Atlanta, has tapped into a unique marketing idea that is not only successful but is fun for the chef and the diners. “They're in love with the idea that someone is cooking for them in their new kitchen,” he says.
Sturm was a chef for 10 years before the 80-hour workweeks of mostly nights and weekends sent him into the handyman business. “This was before being a chef became glamorous,” says Sturm, who also determined that the nightlife didn't suit him. After some time as a handyman, Sturm upped his company's profile and professionalism through industry education and distinctive marketing.
Now he has found a way to combine his love of cooking with his remodeling business. In addition to cooking a gourmet meal, Sturm creates the menu, handles all the food purchasing, and does the prep work. “I actually cook in their kitchen to break it in for them,” he says.
Sturm has also hired other local chefs to handle the cooking duties and has even found a few for hire on Craigslist.org. To ensure they're the right fit, Sturm interviews the would-be gourmet gurus before sending them into his clients' homes. “I make sure they have good communication skills, they look presentable, and they're worthy of my clients,” he says.
The dinners, which typically last two to three hours, make excellent referral conversations. “[Clients] are ecstatic that their kitchen is done and are even more ecstatic that someone is cooking dinner for them,” Sturm says. — Amy Campbell is a freelance writer based in Phoenix.