One million dollars. That’s how much Dallas-area remodelers Tyler Wood (pictured) and Jim McBride increased revenue in one year, growing from $600,000 in 2006 to $1.6 million in 2007. Recognizing the team’s achievement, the Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas named the company 2007 Remodeler of the Year.
Yet in 2006, it’s unlikely that anyone in Dallas had even heard of J&J General Contracting. Wood attributes most of the company’s dramatic changes in fortune to the influence of the professional marketing and public relations firms it works with.
Hired in August, 2006, the marketing firm helped Wood identify and articulate the unique aspects of the company: its focus on top-quality work, the use of only the best and most reliable craftsmen, and its goal of 100% customer satisfaction.
Based on this new identity, J&J General Contracting became Home Artisan Authority and focused its marketing on female clients who own $400,000-plus homes. The company’s marketing materials, its logo, and its Web site were completely revamped.
Within three days of hiring in April 2007, Wood’s public relations firm placed an article about the firm in The Dallas Morning News. “We got about eight jobs from that, the smallest of which was $20,000,” Wood says.
By the end of 2007, Home Artisan Authority’s job size had nearly tripled from an average of $6,000 to $17,000. By April 2008, job size ranged from $10,000 to $180,000, with an average of $25,000. Wood and McBride were J&J General Contracting’s only employees. In contrast, in 2006–2007, to deal with the influx of higher-end projects, Home Artisan Authority contracted with trade partners for everything from plumbing to roofing.
Quality Beyond the status quo
Starting in 2006 and continuing today, Home Artisan Authority’s job coordination with subcontractors starts well before production. Wood only hires subs referred by other remodelers he respects. “I’m looking for someone who is proud of what they do and has a vision of the bigger picture,” he says. “The best people are expensive, but they’re only there once. With cheap people, you must bring them back again and again.”
The next step in coordination also happens before the job begins. Subs must sign the company’s contract, which includes rules that require their employees to exhibit professional behavior and appearance, to never discuss jobs with clients, to arrive on time, to communicate with Wood about any problems, and to clean up the jobsite before quitting work. Each day Wood reviews jobs against a checklist. In the evening, he e-mails subs about any problems and sends out the next day’s instructions.
In February 2008, Wood bought out McBride. As a new sole owner, he’ll be happy with a 2008 revenue of $1 million to $1.2 million. Within eight years, though, he wants Home Artisan Authority to be among the top 50 U.S. remodelers, with $10 million in annual revenue.
Bridget Mintz Testa is a Houston-based freelancer who writes about residential construction, remodeling, technology, and business strategy.