How do you thrive in a tough economic climate? One way is to reinvent your business. A few years ago that’s what we did at Swing Line Windows.

We changed our name to Legacy Remodeling and converted our specialty contracting operation (windows, siding, roofing, basement finishing) to a full-service remodeling company offering design/build projects and services. We looked at our market, Pittsburgh, and at our strengths, 22 years in business, and we set out to find a way to leverage a strong existing customer base and experienced employees.

New Challenges

We knew there were key differences between these business models and that our new focus would bring with it challenges that we didn’t have to deal with as a specialty remodeler. In the past, most of our projects were fairly straightforward. You measure, sell, install. We turned things around quickly. On any given day we might be working on a half-dozen window or siding jobs. We were built for speed.

Now we have designers on our staff. Where we embrace a one-call close sales approach for our specialty products, we’ve had to adapt our thinking to the multiple visits that are required to properly sell a large room addition or a full kitchen remodel. These jobs have a lot more moving parts to keep track of in terms of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and other trades.

They also typically have a longer preparation time due to additional permitting, planning, and inspections. These have all been issues that have challenged us along the way. The need to properly manage these jobs has resulted in the development of new processes and procedures that have made us a better company on the production side of the business.

From a marketing perspective, we have found that we need to generate fewer leads (typically one a day) for our designers than for the specialty product sales reps who we try to provide with two to three selling opportunities each day.

Since we have worked hard to market our brand rather than a particular product, generating these leads for our new offerings has not required any significant new investment. We added it to our website, and our canvassers and event staff offer it along with our other products. The ability to produce leads, which we honed as a specialty remodeler, has been a key to our early success in design/build.

So far, the decision to grow our business through these new offerings has been one we’re glad we made. By adding to the services we offer, we have generated revenue to reinvest in the company. Ultimately, the skills that we are developing by stepping out of what was comfortable for us will leave us a stronger company in the future.

—Jeff Moeslein has an MBA from Robert Morris University and has been president of Legacy Remodeling, in Pittsburgh, since 2006.