February 6, 2012 | That is what you are hoping the neighbors are saying about you when they show off their new deck. The concept of “Keeping up with the Jones’” is the best pipeline for leads in this business. People are proud of their home improvement projects and they like to show them off. Your hopes are that when they are showing off their latest huge investment and boasting about the latest craze in products that they got, they drop your name in the process. Referrals are bar none the least expensive and most valuable lead source in the business. They are virtually free and if it’s done right, you just have to take an order. So how do you harvest this land of milk and honey?

Start with vicious networking. Figure out ways to get in front of your customers friends and neighbors. One way might be to take a few minutes during the build and stop by the houses in the immediate area. Knock on the door, introduce yourself and let them know that your crew is the one working at that house. Show them a picture of what you are building and ask if they have any questions or comments about the workers or anything else. Remember to feel out your customer to see if things like this will be okay. Some people lead very private lives and don’t want the neighbors knowing what they are doing. Another great way to get some easy referrals from a sweet deck project is to throw a grand opening party for your customer. Ask them to invite their friends over for a show off BBQ. You can bring the provisions and run the grill for them or have it catered in. Considering the cost of around $10 a head for some hamburgers, you will get some great prospect conversations and most likely a solid lead.

Consider starting up a referral rewards program. Here’s an example: Say you just finished a deck for Mr. Jones. Print up some low cost coupons on cards about the size of a business card. They should have your contact info, a line to write Mr. Jones’s name, an action incentive such as “Save 5% with this card” and make them look exclusive like a V.I.P pass. Ask Mr. Jones to sign them and give them out to his friends. When his friend calls you buys a deck, you will track the purchases that tie back to Mr. Jones. Award 1 point for every dollar the friend spends. You can give Mr. Jones a selection of rewards that he can use his points to get such as grills, TV’s, etc. I know of a company that uses this type of a program and it is very successful for them.

Another idea is to speak at the HOA meeting or donate a play structure for the pool area in the subdivision right after completing a project. You can establish yourself as the choice contractor for the subdivision if you are active in their events. Keep in mind that subdivisions that are a little older, maybe in their 20th year since the build-out are full of empty nesters who’s kids are in their 3rd or 4th year of college or done. They need a new deck, siding, windows, HVAC, insulation and a roof over the next 5 years and they generally have disposable income to invest in their home.

Coupled with NADRA’s safety inspection concept and the breadth of products available in today’s market, there is plenty of opportunity available to deck contractors. Being creative with your marketing to get leads is what will set you aside from the competition, that doesn’t mean you have to spend more money doing it. Network as much as possible so all of the Jones’ friends call you.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

If you have subject ideas or comments, please send them to me at davidelenbaum@gmail.com.