In November 2008, remodeler Steve Klitsch noticed he had fewer incoming calls and project sizes were smaller. “I felt 2009 would be a real struggle,” he says.
So he decided to dedicate a day to visiting subcontractors and vendors, making sure they understood his company’s range of services. Within a week he’d been on several appointments from leads originating with these subs and vendors, and Klitsch ultimately garnered $130,000 worth of work.
Dressed in a button-down shirt, the owner of Creative Concepts Remodeling, in Germantown, Md., set out with clipboard and business cards to visit his plumber, electrician, cabinet company, a ceramics supplier, and two lumberyards.
He didn’t schedule meetings, just stopped in to chat. Though Klitsch has worked with the same plumber for 20 years, the plumber thought Creative Concepts did only bath and kitchen projects. Klitsch explained that his company does everything from repairs to additions. “I said, ‘When you cut holes in the wall to move pipes, who does the patch work?’ And he said, ‘We leave it to the homeowner.’ I told him we have a guy on staff who has a gift for patching,” Klitsch says.
The ceramics supplier was also under the impression that Creative Concepts did just kitchen and bath work. So Klitsch showed a copy of his general contractor license and explained, for example, that a homeowner who comes to the store for terra-cotta tile for a concrete stoop might need someone to repair that stoop and install the tile. Klitsch then asked the ceramics supplier for referrals.
“You leave your business cards with vendors, but it’s assumptive. You need to educate them,” Klitsch says. “Trust on smaller projects builds to larger projects.”
In January 2009 Creative Concepts began work on a bath/bedroom project that originated from those visits, as did a mid-February 2009 $15,000 bathroom remodel. Both those clients brought Creative Concepts back in for additional projects after that.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.