Come to grips with this, remodelers: Like it or not, many of the "leads" you buy are the names, simply, of individuals who have some interest in doing remodeling work at some point in the vague future. Unless they’ve been personally vetted (which most automated lead providers don’t do), they may or may not have the money to do the work right away, or a serious plan to move forward in the foreseeable future, or even the home they wish to remodel. (Click hereto see "Make Me a Match," the original article from the December 2009 issue of REMODELING.)

So, two lead-generating essentials are up to you, says Mark Paskell, a former remodeling sales executive who now works with remodelers through The Contractor Coaching Partnership.

First, if you choose to work with a lead-generating service, establish a strong “capture process” that will enable you to stay in touch with those leads over the long term. At a minimum, incorporate the names into your database, and make them part of an ongoing marketing program. “Nurture them and be there when they’re ready. Stay in front of them with good information,” Paskell says.

This step alone will give you an advantage over most remodelers, Paskell points out. “Ninety percent of contractors in America don’t have a good capture process.”

Second, and vitally important regardless of whether or not you work with a lead provider, train your staff well to ensure that “the majority of your business is coming from your customer base and the neighborhood around it,” Paskell says. His building blocks of a house-made lead-generation system:

  1. Establish a proactive production-delivery system in which the work is done neatly, communication is paramount, and clients receive outstanding service. “Number one is to take care of your customer – your bird in hand,” Paskell says. By creating a remarkable client experience, you’ll have happy clients, and happy clients are generally happy to suggest referrals. A good time to ask: when they’re giving you a check.

  2. Ensure that your jobsite exposure is professional and upbeat. Good-looking and high-quality job signs are critical, as is a clean site. Equally important (and frequently overlooked), however, are friendly employees. “Teach your employees to say 'hi' to everybody in the neighborhood, even if they don’t know them,” Paskell says. “Teach them to wave and smile.” The good vibe will catch on; neighbors will start to feel they know you.

  3. Train your employees to capture referral information directly. Paskell suggests this policy: Give every employee a personal business card. On the back of the cards, have lines for ‘name, address, e-mail, phone number, notes.’ Tell employees to give two of the cards to anyone who expresses interest. Have the prospect complete one card and return it to your employee, and keep another card. When the prospect leaves, have your employee call the prospect’s information in to the office. Finally, reward employees for their initiative by giving them a bonus – say, $25 – for every lead they acquire.

  4. Line up the rest of the system: Absolutely have a good website that allows prospects to learn more about you. Have a solid policy of responding to all inquiries within 24 hours, at the most. (Companies that do well with purchased leads contact prospects within minutes.) And have a real lead sheet that lets you ask questions to quickly qualify leads.

These are fairly basic steps that are remarkable only for the fact that most remodelers don’t systematically follow them, Paskell says. “It requires a little bit of salespeople, a little bit of employee empowerment, and a little bit of encouraging your staff to really communicate with people.” --Leah Thayer, senior editor, REMODELING.

Learn more about Paskell’s services at

(Click here to see “Make Me a Match," the original article from the December 2009 issue of REMODELING.)