Want to bone up on your presentation skills? ... Find out how to generate some new leads? ... Perfect your estimating? ... Manage cash flow?

Take an online course — from a remodeler.

Steve Klitsch, owner of Creative Concepts, in Germantown, Md., approached a local Maryland community college with a proposal: marry its learning management system technology for offering online coursework with his 35 years' experience as a remodeler.

The result of this collaboration is a 10-week course on selling. It is the first of four courses that Klitsch will offer through Anne Arundel Community College, and it goes up in September. At the moment, the course is non-credit, but Klitsch's goal is to ultimately offer accredited courses in different aspects of remodeling.

The course is aimed at anyone from veteran remodelers to those looking to enter the industry. Students — “anybody with a computer, Internet access, and a desire to learn” — get a hard copy workbook and links to online readings. They are assigned readings and share thoughts and questions via an online discussion that changes weekly and is moderated by Klitsch.

Coursework includes written assignments and group projects.

Available When Needed

There are a number of sources that offer remodeler education in webinar formats. But Klitsch says that his idea in offering an online college course is that anyone can take the course at any time.

The four-course offering starts with sales, for two reasons. First, “if you don’t start off by presenting yourself professionally to clients," Klitsch says, "you’re getting off on the wrong foot,” and you're likely to fail before you even begin.

Second, much has changed in sales. “We’re going to talk about how to use technology in the selling process,” he says. “Do you scan drawings and email them with photos to your customer as part of the proposal? Is that appropriate? Or should you have a sit-down meeting? Should you put your presentation book on an iPad? These are some of the things we’ll be talking about.”

Students in the first course will also learn how to generate their own leads, understand and talk about scope of work, set appointments, and ask for the sale.

Four-Course Menu

Anne Arundel Community College will offer Klitsch’s course on marketing in the spring, followed by a summer course on business management and one on estimating. The fee is $400 per course, whether students live in Maryland or elsewhere. (For enrollment information or for additional information, contact Steve Klitsch at steveklitsch@msn.com.) —Jim Cory is editor of REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR, a sister publication of REMODELING.