Mark Meinhart of Construct, in Franklin, Tenn., is part of a professional networking group that is pooling its resources to generate leads. “We felt like it was a down economy and we needed to up the ante a little bit,” he says.
The Redo Crew was formed in January by real estate agent Nancy Otte, with Re/Max Elite, and includes five principals: Otte, remodeler Meinhart, a landscape architect, an interior designer, and a cabinet company. “After working together informally for years, we decided to formally name and trademark our group and market our services,” Otte says. “It takes a while to develop a relationship and be secure in building referrals,” Meinhart points out.
Otte says that the group allows members to reach clients they might not otherwise have reached as individual companies. To target homeowners who want to prepare their homes for sale in the next few years, The Redo Crew is mailing brochures to specific neighborhoods based on the age and value of the homes.
The first mailing took place in the middle of February, the second was in March, and the third will coincide with the group’s first live event, the Bloom ’n’ Garden Expo. “We had a banner made and rented a television to have a slide show running that shows projects in all phases, including cabinets, exteriors, flooring, interior design, and room additions,” Otte says. The booth will also have The Redo Crew business cards and brochures with member information. The marketing materials direct homeowners to the Redo Crew website. The group plans to add a gallery of project photos and member biographies to the site as well.
Though Meinhart has worked in about 30% of the neighborhoods the group targets in the mailing, he had not done this type of mass mailing on his own. “I should have been doing this in good times, too,” he says.
Calls from the website and brochures go to Otte. She screens the leads and sends them to the appropriate contact in the group. So far, the group has received nine calls since the website’s launch in March, with members presenting proposals to about half of those leads. Members are close to booking two to three jobs from Redo Crew leads.
Geoff Martin, owner of Cedar Mill Group, in Webster, N.H., formed a similar networking group. NH Contractors has 11 members. Each company invested $1,000 to start the group, and they each pay a percentage of additional costs. Membership is by invitation only, and the companies include the NH Contractors link on their individual websites and marketing materials.
“The group evolved to be more than I thought it would be at the beginning,” Martin says. “It took on a life of its own. We want to be a recognizable entity throughout the state. We want to increase membership by being strategic about the trades we invite. At our last meeting we made a list of 16 trades where we want to find a suitable match.”
Since it began, the group has lost two smaller companies and added two larger companies, including one of the biggest electrical contractors in the area and Pella Corporation’s Boston franchise.
The group attended a home show, and some members noticed an increase in hits on their respective company sites. In fact, Martin says, hits that come from the NH Contractors site generate the best statistics for Cedar Mill Group for length of time the person spends on the site, average number of page views, and quality of referral. “Our closing ratio on those leads is exceptional,” he says.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.