Full-Service Design Franchise Sees Rapid Growth

by WOHe

Full-Service Design Franchise Sees Rapid
Growth

By Daina Manning


NEWINGTON, CTOne consumer wants an opulent designer bathroom.
Another just bought a whirlpool and needs someone to install the
thing. For both ends, Paul Calafiore, president of the Newington,
CT franchise of DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, will happily take
the job.
Calafiore’s rapidly expanding enterprise was named the
international remodeling chain’s Franchise of the Year in 2001,
beating out 250 other DreamMaker franchisees in 15 countries.

His franchise has also received awards both for design and for
running an all-around excellent remodeling operation. In a year
with a fluctuating economy, Calafiore’s franchise is on track to
complete more than 200 remodeling jobs in 2002, all with a crew of
four salespeople/designers and seven installers.

The key to his success, Calafiore believes, is that, “We have a
systematic approach to jobs. We pretty much do all of our work in
house. We use our own technicians. We’re a licensed plumbing
company so we offer plumbing services to our customers (he notes,
however, that this service is only available to present and former
remodeling customers). We offer full design, from concept to
completion.”

The DreamMaker franchise’s typical jobs range from a $5,500
“progressive” remodel, which involve a tub liner rather than
installing a new tub, to a complete, luxurious master bath for
around $60,000.

Sometimes, the company’s take-charge approach even includes
fabrication of countertops and custom cabinetry pieces in the shop
that adjoins DreamMaker’s showroom, though typically countertop
fabrication is outsourced.

Speed is essential in Calafiore’s operation at DreamMaker. “We
can pretty much remodel a bathroom in five to seven days,” he
notes. “The first day, the lead tech will go out with a production
manager and a helper to move things along. After that, [the lead
technician] will pretty much be on his own.”

‘Pre-Packaged’ Designs
Calafiore says he’s gotten great results from both a sales and
installation standpoint by offering bathroom remodels in ready-made
designs. “We’ve packaged the bathroom,” he notes. “We have
pre-designed packages in the showroom, and we’ve found that
customers are coming in and picking [one] out: ‘Gee, this bathroom
is really beautiful, I want that.'”

Calafiore reports that many of the customers who come to the
firm take the showcased bathroom without any modifications, which
makes installation a snap.

“We’re doing two or three bathroom remodels a week, so these
guys are trained on that,” he notes. “They’re seeing the same
products over and over again, so the product knowledge is
there.

“Also, [it’s] a team effort. We’re usually working a nine-hour
day; if we’ve got two or three bathrooms going on, if someone [gets
done] early, they’ll pick up the phone, call [another job] and go
out there. The guys know we’re on a schedule.”

The pre-packaged designs also facilitate sales, emphasizes
Calafiore. “With these jobs, we
can hold tighter profit margins,” he notes.

The packages are also pre-priced on a spreadsheet, so much of
the paperwork on a project is already done. Additionally, “You can
hire a sales person who doesn’t have a ton of experience with
design to sell these pre-packaged bathrooms,” he notes. Designers
use Planit Autograph software to facilitate their work.

Unlike many other remodeling businesses, DreamMaker has no
problem attracting good help. “There are people knocking on our
door, wanting to work here,” Calafiore insists. “On the sales end,
it’s a little more difficult. But on the technical end, the guys
talk to people out there, they’re hearing about us, and what an
up-and-coming company we are. We offer a very good pay scale,
profit sharing, a retirement program, health insurance, vacation
time, sick time and personal time.”

DreamMaker employees adhere to a “core code of values” for the
company, which emphasizes integrity, respect and a customer focus,
according to Calafiore. “When somebody’s wrong or out of line, you
can just bring the code of values up, and say, ‘You’re not
following what we believe in,'” Calafiore elaborates. “That holds
up well.”

Strong Marketing
Calafiore also credits a strategic marketing plan for his company’s
success. “We try to track our leads so we know where everything is
coming from,” he explains.

The DreamMaker franchise also participates in three to four home
shows in its surrounding area each year, and advertises in all of
the weekly local papers in the company’s immediate region, along
with the Yellow Pages. Other marketing efforts include a customer
newsletter that goes out to 1,300 people, yard signs on current
jobs and new vehicles with prominent signage for all of the firm’s
technicians. The company previously tried television and radio
advertising, but found it ineffective.

Calafiore estimates that 40% of his jobs come from referrals.
The DreamMaker franchise has a referral incentive program for
former customers, with dinner certificates as a reward.

Overall, DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen has achieved tremendous
growth since Calafiore bought the franchise in the early ’90s. In
fact, he recently moved the company to a newer, larger and more
prominently located showroom/shop.

“I enjoy the challenge of growing the business,” concludes
Calafiore. “The biggest part for me is, we’ve put together a core
group of people within the company [who have] grown and become
successful in their business and personal lives.” Calafiore cites
employees who started out a few years ago and have advanced in the
company “and now they’re out running projects and doing a great job
for us. That’s been very fulfilling.”

DreamMaker Bath &
Kitchen 

MAIN OFFICE: Newington, CT
PRINCIPALS: Paul Calafiore,
president
EMPLOYEES: 11
SHOWROOMS: 1, 2500 sq. ft. (plus 3,500-sq.-ft. shop)
HOURS OF OPERATION:
Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.,
Sat. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
MAJOR PRODUCT LINES: Wilsonart, Showplace Cabinetry, Alumax bath
enclosures, DuPont Corian, Staron, Option kitchen cabinetry
DESIGN SOFTWARE:
Planit Autograph
SPECIALTY: Bathroom remodeling
BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY:
“We have the goal to be the recognized name brand in the bath and
kitchen industry, and we’re going to realize that goal.”

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