2022 Fred Case Award Finalist: A Two-Pronged Attack

Remodeler Pete Cooper implemented a more organized approach to driving referrals and brought intense focus on improving his overall business technology. The two strategies overlapped, creating synergy and fueling growth.

by Kyle Clapham

Pete Cooper is the son of a custom builder, but he had never been involved in the residential construction business professionally until circumstances necessitated a career change. He and his wife Sandy ran an online-based travel service for adventure trips. The business was thriving until the September 11th attacks, then the world changed, and they closed the business.

Several months later, he was up and running in the remodeling business under the tutelage of a remodeler friend. Eventually he bought the friend’s business. It took him a few years to learn the business of remodeling, namely, how to price jobs correctly and how to drop a respectable margin to the bottom line. Cooper credits the subsequent years he spent as an active member of Remodelers Advantage for helping establish a solid operational footing.

Today, due to the success of two recent initiatives, he’s really got his company, Spring Creek Design, going strong. In 2020, Spring Creek billed $870,000. In 2021, that figure jumped to approximately $1.6 million. This year they expect to finish at $2.9 million. You might be thinking that most remodelers had revenue jumps during the pandemic, but this is different.

Cooper had known for many years that Spring Creek’s approach to marketing needed a tune-up. The company was getting most of its leads from outside sources. They needed more referrals. To remedy the situation, Cooper launched a detailed Neighborhood Marketing Initiative—a multistep communications plan that plays out over the course of weeks and months. It involves door hangers, parties for the neighbors, a schedule for sending out invitations, and much more.

“You know, if you’re not calling your past clients and trying to stay connected, you’re wasting your best resource. We’d rather look for new clients than nurture the ones we already have,” Cooper says. “If you can get over that metal block and start nurturing the people that are already in your orbit, that is so much more successful than starting from scratch.”

Of the 31 active prospects currently in the Spring Creek system, 21 were produced through the company’s two-year-old neighborhood initiative. Of the 10 other prospects, three are from Google, six are from social media and one is a friend.

Today, Spring Creek tracks its marketing details through project management software BuilderTrend. All the company’s departments have projects set up in BuilderTrend that keep all of that department’s tasks flowing throughout the year. And as much as possible, the Neighborhood Marketing Initiative project within BuilderTrend is synchronized with each ongoing construction job.

“We created a marketing template (in BuilderTrend). It is a schedule of items and related ‘to-dos’ that is copied into every client project. This serves as a roadmap for marketing activities throughout the lifecycle of each project. Things like gift-basket deliveries, postcard mailings, behind-the-drywall and big-reveal open houses are part of this marketing template. A series of tasks are created and assigned automatically, to make sure each tactic happens as planned.

“The marketing team has to-dos to create social media ads, to send an email blast, to design invitation postcards, to create door hangers and signage. Administration has to-dos to organize the catering, coordinate with the client, schedule the staffing, and manage the clean-up. Sales has to-dos to canvas the neighborhood with invitations, leaving door hangers behind for those who aren’t home. Lastly, to prevent people from becoming overwhelmed by the volume of items on the schedule, these tasks are all tagged by using custom default filters for each role. That way each team member only sees what’s important to them on each schedule. This cuts down on the ‘screen clutter’ while still making specific assignments available to each person.”

This use of technology did not happen by accident. A few years ago, the company made the decision to try to maximize all the possible capabilities around one software solution. And if necessary, they would use other software for specialized solutions like design, but as sparingly as possible.

“I had discovered that technology is a work creator, not a work saver,” Cooper says. “I realized that every time I bought another piece of software to solve a problem, I was just making it worse. It’s not perfect now, but in general it works well. I’ve found that the trick to it is that you must adopt the whole thing. You can’t decide to use a software to just do your schedule and that’s it. We use it from client acquisition through warranty service. We train our clients to use it to confirm meetings, to make payments, to do selections. We have a little onboarding and training process for all of our clients to use it. Same with our subs. They must use our system for all of our bidding, purchase ordering and scheduling. It’s a requirement to do business with us.”

Now that Spring Creek is generating more referrals and is committed to its technology hub, Cooper sees more capacity for his current staff of 10 and tripling the size of the company in two years will not be a problem. QR

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