Rather than seek to impose outside structures on your creaitivity and unique identity, build your brand first.
Matthew Hollister Rather than seek to impose outside structures on your creaitivity and unique identity, build your brand first.

Many systems and techniques that experts taught me didn’t work when I applied them to my remodeling business. In fact, some techniques that worked well for others didn’t make sense to me at all. The opposite was also true; techniques I was advised against worked like magic.

One of the reasons for this is that the remodeling industry is unique. Most companies resemble entrepreneurial-driven startups in their form and function. Startups are all about innovation and a new way of looking at an industry. Owners often turn to experts to create a repeatable and scalable business model, which, ironically, takes away what was supposed to make the company successful in the first place — its uniqueness.

Unique Value

Based on my peer group recommendation, I once hired a consultant to teach me some sales techniques. Though I learned a lot from the training, I realized that my company had a very different style. Copying this sales system would not have worked for us.

Rather than use the consultant’s “up-front contract” system, I came up with the concept of “up-front value.” This meant that my company’s goal would be to first build a personal relationship with the prospect — showing them that they can trust us — before asking for a formal commitment on the project. And even after they signed the design contract, we promised them a full refund if they changed their mind.

Rather than seek to impose outside structures on your creativity and unique identity, build your brand first. You may need help figuring it out, but start by answering these questions: What is your company’s claim to fame? What is it that you do that no other company does? It could be a product, technique, or style. Ask your past clients why they chose your company over the competition. Are these reasons consistent? Will their answers surprise you? Once you define what makes you different, take this unique value and ensure that everything your company does — from your sales process to your billing policy — is consistent with it. Develop systems around your brand identity. This should lead to attention from your target market, make it easier to close sales, and improve customer satisfaction.

—Daniel Glickman is a branding consultant and business coach at FirmFlair and the co-owner of Sustainable Construction Services, in Sherborn, Mass. daniel@glickman.com

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