Back in 1999, Matt Plaskoff, winner of this year’s Fred Case Entrepreneur of the Year Award, wasn’t completely happy with the way his successful Los Angeles–based remodeling company worked (click here to read the full story). The design/build sales cycle was too long and the one-off nature of the projects made it difficult to achieve consistent results. Plus, he saw demand in the marketplace for small projects that larger companies, his included, couldn’t handle.
So Plaskoff starting looking for a way to spend fewer hours per dollar earned and still generate a consistent, predictable workflow. His solution had two key elements: one was an exclusive focus on bathroom remodels; the other was an emphasis on the value of time. Plaskoff called the new company One Week Bath (OWB), then set out to make sure that once a project started, the crews showed up every day until the job was done — and that the job was always done in five days.
The benefits to the consumer are obvious, but OWB has plenty of business advantages.
Efficiency. Training crews in just one thing eliminates surprises on the job. Each crew member trains on “practice baths” before they ever set foot in a customer’s house. Crew members are interchangeable, so any individual can fill in for any other. Everyone knows the system: same job, different location.
Marketing. The brand has taken hold — and not by accident. Doing five bathrooms each week in five different locations means OWB job signs, trailers, and painted vans are all over town. Referrals are strong and marketing costs are low, and because most homes have more than one bath, repeat work is likely.
Sales. OWB uses a checkbox system to guide customers’ product selections, and proprietary software builds the price as they go. The salesman leaves the house with a fixed price contract and a complete schedule of fixtures and finishes. Customers love it because there’s no running around to find products and no waiting for a design or a price.
Price. Although OWB competes against design/build companies, Plaskoff doesn’t charge a premium for the service. In fact, OWB earns a price advantage because it is buying five bathrooms every week.
Scheduling. Because all specialties — plumbing, electrical, tile, HVAC, etc. — are in-house, no job is ever held up by a subcontractor. And because OWB knows its process so well, inspections are scheduled well in advance.
The OWB concept works well in a down economy, too. These days high-end remodels are few and far between, so design/build customers are coming to OWB for a scaled-down version of their dream bath. Business was up in the double digits in 2009.
Can any of this translate to other types of projects? Plaskoff thinks so.
And that should get everyone thinking.
—Sal Alfano, editorial director, REMODELING.