Put Your Best Foot Forward Sure, there are challenges, but the challenges are typical of our industry. The key is not to shortchange the client. Make your usual presentation. Focus on service and value. If you do that, you have a winning combination because your credibility is already there.

Price can get a little sticky, but there are ways to handle that, too. I tell my sales reps that they can give a “Sal discount” up to a certain percentage. Give them the best price you can while staying profitable. That way, when they ask, “Is this the best you can do?” you can answer them honestly that it is.

Confidence Is Key We have a referral program that we call “Partner Points,” which rewards employees and installers for drumming up new business. Naturally, the people they'll have the opportunity to refer to us are family and friends. Some of them expressed concerns at first: “What if it doesn't go smoothly?” If you think that way, it means that you don't have confidence in your company and your team to do their jobs well. If you have a rock-solid production department — like we do — then you have nothing to worry about.

Sal Ferro
Alure Home Improvements
East Meadow, N.Y.
Big50 1993

Profit Problems There's a tendency not to hold the line on your own profitability when you're working for a friend or a member of your family. It's difficult for me to charge a family member the same price I would charge a “regular” client, because I don't want to take anything from my family — I'd rather give it to them. But doing projects for free obviously isn't healthy for the company.

Generally speaking, if you do a job for a family member, they're expecting that they'll get “special” treatment and that they'll get it for less than someone else might pay. Those two points are directly opposed. If there isn't enough money around, the job never goes well. Forget it if you are doing favors for them.

Pass Them On It can be tough to say “no” to someone close to you. But I explain my reasons for turning the job down. If that gets them upset, it just proves my point — it's too emotional a situation for us to get involved in. We're not the only good remodelers in town. I'm perfectly comfortable giving them a couple of numbers to call to get their job done.

Mark Stephenson, CR, CKBR, CLC
HUB Design/Build
Villanova, Pa.
Big50 2004