Tim Alexander, owner of HomeSource Builders, in Asheville, N.C., opened his company’s design center to help streamline the selections process, but it ended up saving his business.
In March 2010, when Alexander launched the design center, the recession was in full swing and the custom home segment of his company was shrinking, with sales volume dropping from $7 million in 2008 to $3 million in 2010. He used the design center to promote his company’s remodeling work — which now makes up 65% of HomeSource Builders’ business, with an expected 2012 volume of $5.2 million. “The design center brought credibility that we were here to stay,” Alexander says.
About 1,600 square feet of the building is dedicated to the design center. The remaining 1,000 square feet house the company’s building and remodeling office. The HomeSource Design Center is run as a separate entity with its own manager, a kitchen and bath designer, and a front desk assistant.
Alexander sends clients to the design center for selections, and six other area builders do the same. The center gets about 12 walk-in visitors a week, which Alexander attributes to its high-traffic location on a main road in an upscale neighborhood of older homes circa early 1900s.
The company has categorized products in three tiers of profitability (see sidebar) and Alexander says the center has met his goal of streamlining selections. Now new-construction and remodeling clients make most selections in the center and need only visit a few outside locations for items the center doesn’t carry. —Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING
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