McCadden: Want to Improve Your Business? Sell Time Slots

authors Shawn McCadden | May 19, 2021

If you have been marketing and selling remodeling services for some time now, and you’re not really happy with how it’s been going, now might be a good time to reconsider and sell something else.

The current remodeling marketplace is booming. Recent reports indicate the demand for remodeling will stay strong for at least the next few years. The economy is strong, and it too is expected to remain strong, maybe even expand. We shall see. This all sounds good for remodelers.

However, the skilled-labor shortage, predicted for years now, is starting to become a serious problem for remodelers trying to keep up with demand. It is pushing sold-project lead-times way out, often months into the future. And if you think it’s bad now, trust me, it’s going to get worse.

Also, material costs have skyrocketed, and trying to predict today what materials will cost by the time you can actually get to produce a sold project can be risky, especially if your contract doesn’t shift the risk and burden to clients.

New Practical Realities

Although there is plenty of work out there, taking on more than you can produce within a reasonable time frame—perhaps three months—puts your business at risk when materials and subcontractor prices rise, and neither is actually available when promised.

This practical reality is messing up completion schedules for remodelers as well as their clients. As a result, subsequent project start dates also get bumped out. Things have gotten so bad, many frustrated consumers have come to realize just to get something done, they must accept and tolerate mediocre service and constantly extended project completion dates.

Often, this is the case because even their remodeler, just to get things done, also has to accept mediocre. The reality is doing a larger volume of work is really not practical for most remodelers and participating within that game can risk tarnishing your brand.

Stop Marketing

That’s right, I’m suggesting you stop marketing and selling remodeling projects. Instead, start selling time slots and promote your company’s availability to get a remodeling project done. Keep in mind, however, that at least for now, selling remodeling this way is a niche market. Not all remodelers will be able to do this. Not all remodeling prospects will give up their ability to bid out their project.

The idea is to keep your company about the size it is now and to become more efficient at how you do what you do. This applies not just to the physical remodeling work but also to production management. It also applies to how you market and sell this new way of offering and delivering remodeling. You will also need to be very good at scheduling, because if you promise a time slot, you need to deliver during that time slot.

Market and Sell the Benefits

Due to how busy remodelers are, many remodeling consumers are very disappointed to learn their project will not start or be completed on time. Some clients will just accept this and wait. Others want what they want now, and they are willing to pay a premium to get it. They just want to get the quality of service and craftsmanship they expect, particularly if they pay a premium for it.

Instead of marketing how beautiful your kitchens will be, market that you have a specific three-month time slot available. There are many instances where time-sensitive projects must be completed. What about a prospect with an elderly or physically challenged loved one who is moving in on a certain date?

What about a couple who wants to host a family gathering or wedding, an event where being done late is not acceptable? What about a couple expecting a baby and needs the bedroom ready before the baby comes home? These may be rare prospects, but simply put, how many prospects do you really need to say “yes” in order to fill your schedule for the year?

Evolve Your Business Systems

To support this new way of doing business, assess whether your current business systems and policies are in-sync with the business model. I suggest you sell the time slot by only accepting a significant non-refundable deposit to secure it.

Design may still need to happen, and a fixed-price contract may still need to be created, but why bother doing those things if the prospect isn’t already committed to your business? If you’re operating with real design-build procedures, you have a head start. So, instead of selling your design-build process first, sell the time slot first. Then gain your prospect’s confidence to buy it. Show your prospect how also paying for the design-build process helps them stay within and maximize their budget and design.

Because you’re selling a time slot, prospects must commit to your required schedule for completing their required decision making during the project development stage. It needs to be clear that if they cause delay in the design’s completion-date, they will forfeit the time slot, as well as their money.

Again, this business model and selling it is not right for most remodelers. But that’s a good thing for those who can pull it off. There will be limited competition and little chance of becoming a commodity.

That is the limited 30,000-foot view of this idea. More needs to be worked out. But imagine selling time slots at premium margins to clients who commit to do business your way and only your way. Make sure your contract is bulletproof. I recommend you find a lawyer who specializes in remodeling and will sell you a time slot to discuss engineering the contracts and agreements you will need to weed out the wrong clients before they sign on. QR

Shawn McCadden is a speaker, business trainer, columnist and award-winning remodeler with more than 35 years of experience. He can be reached at shawnmccadden.com.

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