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A Process, Not a Product

by David Lupberger


Question: Why is there so much animosity directed toward the remodeling profession? When I tell people I'm a contractor, almost everyone has a horror story they want to share about a contracting job gone bad. It's a very frustrating part of this occupation.

Answer: Homeowners do not look forward to the process of remodeling. They definitely enjoy the results of remodeling, but they do not look forward to the process. They are frightened by the process and everyone has heard horror stories about contractors.

David Hollies, president of Home Connections, a contractor referral service in Silver Spring, MD, has a great quote regarding the process: "Remodeling is a bit like having 15 strangers over to play football in your living room for a few weeks. They all arrive and depart at different times and each is determined to make a mess of your home. It may not be that bad, but remodeling will disrupt just about every routine you have, including some you're not even aware of."

Major Surgery
For many people, a major renovation is a lot like surgery. In both remodeling and surgery, homeowners surrender some degree of control over their lives, to go through a process that is painful, worrisome and invasive and on top of that, the end result is in no way guaranteed.

Remodeling is also a lot like dental work. Who reading this hasn't put off dental work because they just didn't want to go in and have it done? How many people rush to the dentist to have needles stuck in their mouth and holes drilled in their teeth? In my case, I finally had dental work done when my teeth hurt so much that I couldn't eat.

In a similar way, when homeowners move forward with a remodeling project, the pain of their existing living conditions has to be greater than the fear of fixing the problem.

As a remodeler, when we walk through the homeowner's door, we are usually focused on project management - estimating the job, lining up the subs, arranging for materials and scheduling the work. Often, our attention is not on the homeowner and their concerns or needs. For us, this is a job - a series of tasks which need to be managed for the job to be completed.

More Than a Job
But this isn't just a job to them! This is a very big part of their life and most homeowners only do one, maybe two big projects in their entire lives! They are scared and feel they have a lot to lose.

So, what do you do about this fear that generates such animosity and suspicion?

It is my direct experience that acknowledging that the homeowners you work with have some very real fears is the foundation for having a successful business.

Why? Remodeling is a relationship sale. We are not just selling a finished product. We are also selling a process, and you must manage that process as well as manage the project.

Who Do They Trust?
Your success in remodeling will be based on your ability to communicate with your clients that you understand what they're going through. They are vulnerable during this process and they don't know who to trust. Frequently, they don't know where to begin or even what to do.

So what is the key to success? You must manage the homeowners during a remodeling project. Managing the homeowner is as important, if not more important, than managing the job. You must guide them through every step in the process. You must manage their expectations. You must help them understand exactly what will be happening.

You are the expert in remodeling. Like a small-town doctor, a big part of your job is holding their hands and guiding them through the process.

When homeowners complain about a bitter remodeling experience, take a few minutes, if you can, to ask them about what happened. What they will tell you will be a key piece of information that should change the way you do business. Nine times out of ten, their complaints are a result of their experience, not the product. Remodeling is a process, not a product. Manage the process well and you are 90 percent of the way home.

Reprinted with the permission of Qualified Remodeler

To contact David Lupberger directly, call him at (301)570-9756. You may also send your comments and/or questions to David at his personal email..

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