Ryan Snook

While prospects are busy gathering information about your company and researching other remodeling companies, as well as contacting friends for referrals, it’s important that you do some homework of your own before going out on a sales call. Jim Tibbs, owner of HDR Remodeling, in Berkeley, Calif., finds Zillow.com useful in helping him to determine whether a customer is a good match.

Price & Value

Zillow.com, an online resource for real estate information, can give you a sense of neighborhood home values and sales prices, home sizes and types, and consumer demographics. There’s also an aerial overview on the home page that provides a quick glimpse of the value of houses surrounding a property.

Conversation Starter

Tibbs uses the Zillow information in several ways.

Prequalifying. “We do advance work before investing a lot of time in deepening the relationship,” he says.

Discussing budget. “In some cases we temper the enthusiasms of the homeowner based on looking at the value of homes around them,” Tibbs says. “You don’t want to have a home that’s the highest value on the street based on what you’ve invested in it, especially if they’re thinking of selling in five years. We talk a lot about ROI, and Zillow can help with that discussion. Clients appreciate the fact that you’re helping them make good financial investment decisions.”

Targeting marketing. Using Zillow, Tibbs can find demographic information for his company’s direct-mail campaigns: “It’s a way to zero in on [our sweet spot] neighborhoods and align with the consumer we’re marketing to.”

Though Zillow is just one part of Tibbs’ sales and marketing arsenal, it is, he says, “an efficient way to gather information that’s important to us.”

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.