Exciting, scary, daunting: Remodeling is all that and more to homeowners who are considering unleashing a crew of strangers on their home. A bit of education can go a long way toward giving them the confidence to proceed with their project, with you as the trusted authority to guide them through it.
“They're always looking for speakers at libraries and home shows,” says Patty Musser, chapter administrator of NARI of San Jose, a chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. There's usually no cost at these events, other than your time and handouts.
You can also consider inviting homeowners to a more personal setting, such as your showroom, a trade partner's space, or even a client's home. Ten times a year, up to 40 homeowners spend two or more hours at focused remodeling “workshops” at the offices of Harrell Remodeling, in Mountain View, Calif. Attendees pay $20 to $25 to cover costs (including snacks), and many go on to hire the company. About 10% of the company's leads come from the workshops, says Taleesha Baker, marketing administrator.
Tips for successful speaking:
Join a respected partner. Musser surmises that speaking opportunities are available to any remodeler with knowledge and initiative. But you may have more credibility, and get a more qualified audience, if you're “packaged” as part of a bigger group known for professional standards and ethics, such as NARI. The organization can also help to market the engagement.
Educate, don't promote. Most speaking venues have criteria to abide by, says Dan Taddei, director of education with NARI National. “They don't want you positioning yourself as Joe Remodeler selling your product,” he says. “Stay out of the business of selling your business.”
“Speaking engagements have been a great source of leads for us,” says Debbie Mackey of Daniel Mackey Construction, and president of NARI of San Jose. Her husband, Dan, frequently speaks at home shows and once had a dream-demographic crowd at a library. Mackey gives a Power-Point presentation that covers the major steps of planning a project and also distributes NARI directories to attendees.
Harrell workshop attendees also view presentations and receive information about the topic (green building, aging in place, kitchens, etc.) and the company. Both California companies conclude their presentations with Q&As and surveys. Attendees are contacted only if they indicate that they want to be.
Repurpose. Make your presentation worth the effort. Plan to repurpose in multiple venues, and improve and update it each time. Better visuals? Elegant snacks? A dynamic guest-speaker? Also, consider charging a fee to attend. Some remodelers say they get more serious remodeling prospects if they make the presentation a destination, rather than just a way to kill time.