With award season coming to a close, it's time to turn those accolades into high-powered marketing vehicles. Adding the words “award-winning” to brochures, newsletters, and business cards adds “credibility to the work we do,” says Mark Audino, president of Audino Construction in Austin, Texas.
Audino began entering regional and national competitions 10 years ago. The company has earned more than 25 awards, including one for converting a home from all-electric power to propane power, and a Texas Association of Builders' Star award for best kitchen over $100,000. “Everyone says they do custom, quality work,” Audino says. “Through awards, we try to separate ourselves from the pack.”
Audino Construction gets the word out by adding “award-winning” to its letterhead, client information packets, and job signs. Plus, the awards are proudly displayed in the company's showroom.
AN EDGE WITH CUSTOMERS Ken Perrin and business partner Peter Lehrer, owners of Artistic Renovations in Cleveland, jumped into local and national competitions just three years ago. Since then, the company has racked up numerous prizes, including a 2006 National Association of the Remodeling Industry COTY award, several Chrysalis awards, and being named one of REMODELING's Big50 last year . The accolades give the company an edge. Perrin says, “Our customers see that the same guys working on their house, doing their bathroom, have won national awards.”
But just winning an award isn't enough. “You have to promote it,” says Perrin, who sends a press release to the local paper, various associations, and home-show promoters.
Being an award-winning company can have one hitch: Some customers may think they can't afford you, Perrin says. So remodelers should emphasize quality over quantity or price. “The price range is built on the scope of the work, not the quality,” Perrin says. “The quality is the same on a $10,000 job as a $300,000 job.” In fact, Perrin's company recently received an award for a $15,000 bathroom remodel.
Because most competitions have a range of categories, remodelers usually will have a project that fits the criteria and is eligible for entry. Audino typically knows, going into a project, whether it will be award-worthy. Projects that strike a balance between aesthetics and improving function and efficiency will rate higher with judges, he says. Audino Construction staff carefully document each step of the project with pictures and a paper trail. “Then all this information is available when you start assembling the package for the award,” says Audino, who emphasizes the importance of professional photographs.