If Hershey’s Kisses are flying through the air, then you’ve probably stumbled into a presentation at the 2012 Remodeling Show in Baltimore conducted by Leslie Shiner, owner of the ShinerGroup and author of A Simple Guide to Turninga Profit as a Contractor. One of Shiner’s trademarks is giving treats to audience members who interact with her during her seminars.

And the chocolate was flying at her session, “25 Down & Dirty Ways to Increase Profits,” because the roomful of attendees played an active role in sharing comments, ideas, and experiences. Shiner’s promise to attendees: that they would leave the session with a minimum of 25 tips to maximize profits.

“It’s not whether jobs are profitable or not,” Shiner announced, “it’s what components are profitable on a job. It’s not unusual to think you’re doing well on a job, and then lo and behold you realize that you actually lost money. The key is having a process that will help you increase profits.” And these processes can be implemented in every aspect of your business from financial management to production and every place in between.

A Decent Proposal

At the presentation, Shiner stressed the need for every remodeler to know how to create a proposal as a repeatable process. “[The proposals] should have enough profit in them to cover costs and therefore improve profitability,” she advised.

It’s also vital that you know the hard costs and those costs that are negotiable. So you would ask the client: “I can lower the price, but what do you want to do without?” Shiner says. “If a client asks for price cuts, you need to know how to alter the scope of the job.”

While good customer service is vital, Shiner says that remodelers should learn to say no when they need to and should educate clients about change orders. If you can do that, “you will start off right with your client,” she says. “Your client will understand how the process works.”

She also noted that you shouldn’t be shy about asking for referrals because they are the cheapest means of marketing and source of new customers. “Referrals are the best way to be active in your marketing,” she says.

When it comes to the production side of the remodeling business, Shiner emphasized the importance of scheduling to improve sales, procurement, and production. “One of the great things about putting together a schedule is that there are drop-dead dates for the customer,” she says. “For example, tell the client that if they don’t choose tile by this date, then they will be the one impacting the schedule. Teach the customer how to be a good remodeling client.” For more information about Shiner’s session and other tips for making your business more profitable, go to shinergroup.com.

—Mark A. Newman, senior editor, REMODELING.