The homeowner-remodeler relationship is a two-way street. Homeowners want the remodel of their dreams and the contractor wants to satisfy (or exceed) that need at the same time he or she makes a profit. (A good referral after the fact is always nice, too.) But when a remodeler is busy wearing several hats, he or she may not have the time to fully cultivate this relationship or, sometimes, even know whether a particular client relationship is worth pursuing. That’s where a remodeling coach can help.

A remodeling coach has experience and extensive knowledge in the home improvement industry and can take the mystery out of remodeling by bridging the communication gap between homeowner and contractor so that the home improvement process is a positive experience for both parties.

Stop Red Flags

Coaches can help homeowners figure out what they want in a renovation, set a budget, compare bids, choose the right contractor, create a work/payment schedule, and shop for materials and supplies. Once a project starts, he or she stays on top of the schedule, monitors the quality of work, and acts as a liaison should any disputes arise.

One of the worst nightmares for a contractor is a customer who continually asks for work to be changed or redone and has no concept as to why that would cost extra money. Some of the main concerns for contractors include homeowners who:

Don’t pay on time or continue to haggle about what is due;

Look over their shoulder and constantly hang around;

Request work to be done without permits;

Threaten to sue, or brag about having sued, a contractor;

Try to get contractors to do more work for free;

Try to renegotiate the price after the job has been completed;

Change their minds, complain often, and nitpick.

A remodeling coach can save homeowners time, money, and sanity by heading off these tactics. Paying for a coach can be far cheaper than ending up with a project that the client is not happy with or with a job that doesn’t get finished because of an unresolved dispute. Remodeling nightmares do not have to happen.

Right-Hand Man (or Woman)

People wearing multiple hats can’t possibly be good at every skill they’ve undertaken. And many contractors are so busy that they don’t have time to answer homeowners’ questions as specifically as necessary, walk them through a project, or offer suggestions about how to do something better and, possibly, more economically.

As a coach, the fist thing I advise remodeling company owners on is how to choose clients that best fit their company. It’s OK to say no to a potential nightmare. If you feel like a prospect is a "red flagger," don’t try to get out of the job by overpricing it. Simply say, "Thanks, but no thanks." Show up for yourself and earn the money you deserve and the respect you are worthy of.

Coaches also help company owners develop a plan of circulation for the purpose of accurately estimating, learn how to stop the cycle of under-earning, and how to effectively communicate with homeowners. A coach can help create a contract that clearly lays out the details of a particular job. Coaches will discuss change order possibilities with homeowners so that a job runs smoothly and according to schedule. The biggest area a coach can help contractors with is in preventing disputes with the homeowner by being honest and open about the money and mess of home improvement.

Be Part of the Solution

When contractors are running a profitable company and paying both themselves and their employees, they are running a "business-on-purpose." When homeowners are open and honest about what they desire and come clean about their expectations, they are initiating a "relationship-on-purpose." A remodeling coach can lead you to success by showing you how to have a better and different relationship with your clients, your business, and your money.
—Reva Kussmaul is a remodeling coach and the CEO of Eye for Detail, eyefordetail@mac.com.