Every successful design/build firm pays attention to detail, particularly the details that pertain to the client. Establishing rapport, getting a feel for the client’s intentions and closing a sale depend on the salesperson’s understanding of the details.
For Jay Cipriani, president of Woodbury, N.J.-based Cipriani Builders, detail is everything. His company has created a Needs Assessment Form used by the salesperson at an initial appointment to gather information about the site and personal information about the client. The form is highly detailed, providing the salesperson a comprehensive list of initial questions to ask.
“The Needs Assessment Form is about the customer,” says Mark Simone, general manager. “What are they looking to do? How are they looking to use it? Are they planning to stay? Do they have kids in grammar school?”
Some of the questions are related to construction, such as where vehicles are parked. And many of the questions are related to the customer.
“We’re looking for telltale signs. We’re looking at their yard and signs of kids. Do they have a boat in the yard? We want to make them comfortable and get to know them,” he says. “We ask how they heard of us. We get the names of their pets.”
While it may appear like a psychological profile test, Cipriani Builders uses these tidbits of information to better serve the client.
The Needs Assessment Form also addresses project-related items — why the client is remodeling; whether or not they’ve been through it before; if they will be doing any work themselves; and locations for storage.
The final part of the assessment steers the client to the budget. Cipriani Builders hopes they are comfortable by this point and more willing to discuss money issues.
Jay Cipriani also spends time teaching at a local community college to educate consumers on how to choose a remodeling contractor and what elements should be included in contracts.
“Originally we looked at it as a marketing tool,” Simone says, “but it’s really a multiuse program.”
The company has generated a few leads over the several years Cipriani has taught the course. However, the primary goal is not to win business but to empower the client.
“Consumers have no place to go to learn how to do it properly,” he says, with regard to selecting a contractor. “It gives them that avenue to learn.”
Full-time employees: 22
Industry memberships: NAHB, AIA
Annual design/build projects:
Average annual revenue (including sales, overhead):