The Honey-Do List

by WOHe

By Phil Green

If you haven’t noticed, times have changed in the remodeling industry. Back in 2005 the phone was ringing off the hook. There was excitement in the air. Remodeling shows, like “Flip this House, “Flip that House†and “Property Ladder,†were on almost 24/7. Anyone in the remodeling trade was a valuable commodity. Times were good.

Enter 2010. What happened? Where has all the work gone? Instead of remodeling homes for a quick return on investment, clients have become very selective about what projects they decide to undertake. Kitchen and baths used to be projects where homeowners spent extra money to showcase the spaces. Getting the glass tile backsplash or heated tile floors in the bath was part of the original budget right from the beginning.

With the uncertainty of their own jobs, many homeowners have scaled way back and many jobs lately have been reduced to maintenance work: repair the leaking faucet, weather strip the doors and windows, re-grout and re-caulk instead of re-tile. Don’t get me wrong: It is very important and money saving to keep a home in good repair.

One practice I have been doing for years to keep my name in the minds of past and recent customers is to always do something for them above and beyond what they paid for within the project. I know that many remodelers already do this and have found that they are on the “short list†of calls when the client does decide to do the deck, addition or basement build-out.

Everyone has a “honey-do†list. I have one in front of me right now. A honey-do list is a list of projects or repairs that a homeowner will get around to doing someday. My honey-do list is where I get my ideas from for things to do for my customers pro bono.

Ask your client for his or her honey-do list. Pick a couple items, do them and say, “No charge.†Most of these small unfinished jobs can be done simply and inexpensively by anyone who calls himself or herself a remodeling contractor. Even a can of W-D 40 can repair many simple problems. Your homeowner will appreciate you taking the time to serve him or her in this simple act of kindness.

My motivation in completing a honey-do list is pure. I really do want to help my clients, and this is a simple way to do it. It shows that I too appreciate the work sent my way. The residual effect is your homeowner will most likely remember what you did for him or her and reward you by giving you the next larger project or referring you to friends and family.  Maybe instituting the honey-do-list idea in your next project will provide you with benefits down the road.

Phil Green has been a remodeling contractor for 30 years.

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