In our April, 2011 story, Festive Finish, about hosting client parties, editor Stacey Freed interviewed HartmanBaldwin Design/Build marketing manager Karla Rodriguez about the company’s mid-construction house tours. We followed up with the remodeler to find out some more details about these marketing events.

HartmanBaldwin Design/Build, in Claremont, Calif., hosts invitation-only mid-construction house tours for strong prospects. These events enable prospects to meet the company's clients and to take a tour of an in-progress project. This allows “prospects to develop a relationship with us as trusted adviser," Rodriguez says, "and we can show them our work from conception to construction.”

The mid-construction tour is part of the company's broader strategy of face-to-face marketing that includes seminars and open houses. Rodriguez describes these in-person meetings as a “soft landing” where prospects can get to know the company and its employees “without having to sign on the dotted line.” She says it conveys to homeowners how “transparent as possible” the company is with its processes.

Seminars as an Entry Point

The company also hosts remodeling seminars about four times a year, extending an invitation to the mid-construction tours to the most-engaged attendees. “The people who were the most motivated get an exclusive invitation to [the tour],” Rodriguez says. She organizes four to five tours a year, showing off projects in different stages of construction, though she finds that the best time for mid-construction tours is when the drywall is complete but the cabinetry/finishes have not yet been installed. “It’s a little more exciting and easier for [homeowners] to visualize,” she says.

At the events, HartmanBaldwin also provides before photos, renderings, and, if available, three-dimensional designs. “We’re trying as much as possible to paint the picture for the prospect — similar to what we do for our clients,” Rodriguez says.

Well-Staffed & Well-Prepared

Hartman Baldwin employees associated with the project attend the tours. This includes the salesperson, the project manager, the architect, as well as one of the principals, Rodriguez, and other marketing staff. The company also encourages its carpenters and design staff to be there.

Because many of the company’s clients attended HartmanBaldwin tours when they were researching their own remodeling projects, they are usually open to hosting a tour for the remodeler. “They understand the value and are gracious enough to let us hold the event at their house," Rodriguez says. "We consider it a personal favor.”

Before it embarked on hosting mid-construction tours, HartmanBaldwin consulted its attorney and reviewed its insurance policy. Rodriguez works with the project manager to ensure that the site is as safe as possible, but even so, as a precaution, attendees are asked to sign a release form.

HartmanBaldwin has found that early afternoon on Saturdays is a good time to hold the tours. Rodriguez recommends that any in-person event should last no more than two hours and that any formal presentations be kept to between 30 and 45 minutes long. “Be careful not to come off as too sales-pitchy," she advises. "If your [company] is good, that is going to come through.” And that is your key selling point.  —Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.