While we were running a remodeling business, there was an effort launched by several folks to create The Remodelers Guild.

The idea was for this entity to buy up good remodeling companies around the United States and have them operate as semi-independent businesses under the umbrella of The Remodelers Guild (TRG). TRG would provide a back office that served all of the companies and a marketing to build the TRG brand. The owners of the companies would end up selling their companies to TRG.

We were asked to participate. We went to a couple of meetings but decided not to do so. After a few years TRG ceased to exist.

Why can’t remodeling scale?

  • Each Business Takes a Different Approach

    Consider franchises. A potential franchisee buys systems, an identity, and marketing that help potential customers feel secure about working with them, independent of the franchisee needing to promote their own credibility.

    A remodeling company, particularly a good, custom design-build company, is working more often than not in a unique market on unique properties owned by unique clients. A standardized approach would provide a lot of the answers, but not all of them. The company owner needs to understand the motivators of all those they work with and sell to. I find it difficult to figure out how to make this be something that could be put into a generic approach.

  • Most Remodeling Companies Are Centered on a Key Person

    The owner is probably personable and able to see effectively. They build a team who can support them in doing what they do well. That key person, even if the company is not named for them, is the company in the eyes of the market place.

    Their ability to make promises that their team keeps is what will help clients become repeat customers. I don’t know how to keep that personal touch if a roll-up of remodeling companies occurs.

  • Each Company is the Result of Many Small Choices

    The typical good remodeling company has made a lot of mistakes and learned valuable lessons from doing so. I can’t conceive of how such experiences and insights can be made compelling and relevant to other company owners, each of whom thinks they might have all the answers. This is possibly the biggest obstacle to rolling up good companies that do high quality remodeling.

    What I have seen are very large companies that provide a very narrow range of services. They are effectively selling a product, like a straightforward kitchen or bath remodel, similar to many such projects the companies have done in similar homes. Full-line design-build remodeling just does not fit in a box like that. 

The future will hold the answer to the question of the scalability of our industry. I am curious to see how it unfolds.