July 7, 2010 | All structures require a proper and solid foundation. In the long run, it won’t matter how well you frame, trim, or install any deck or building project if this effort is made on a weak or flawed footing. Short and long term problems will materialize. On a poor foundation, settling occurs, cracks show up, and repairing the damage is difficult and costly.

As a deck builder or remodeler, your contracting business is also a structure that requires a solid foundation. Without it you’ll experience sub par performance and failure similar to the way a deck or house structure would be affected. Because this business foundation is what all future efforts and investments will be built from, it’s important to do it right.

Installing a good foundation simply requires a common sense approach to the very basics of business. The initial mix for this pour includes the basic concepts of operating as an honest and ethical contractor. The rest of the mix includes establishing a reputation, positive impressions with prospects, good communication, and conduct becoming a professional.

The Honesty and Trust Factor
One of the key decision making considerations when a prospect is choosing a contractor is based on the trust and competence factor regarding the individual they’re communicating with that results in a “comfort level”. The higher the level, the better chance you’ll get the job.

Realize that most prospects don’t have a clue as to who you are and in the beginning you’re just another contractor that they’re receiving proposals from. They’re forming opinions about you from the first moment of contact and their initial impression of you matters. For example; at the end of the day, a customer could meet with 3 contractors, accept 3 proposals, have a problem distinguishing any real product difference between the three, and choose you because they trusted you. Gaining this trust is the first step in setting up a solid foundation.

Quality Craftsmanship
Without question, delivering quality craftsmanship is a key to any contractors’ foundation, and is the second necessary component required to be successful. You could be the most trustworthy, honest, and nicest person in the world but if your work quality is average or worse your business will be the same.

Good clean work regardless of grades of materials and performing to high standards should be one of the core basics of a contracting business. This requires the right mental attitude, good intentions, ambition, pride, and sincerity of service. If you’re work is noticeably better than others that compete within the same niche, it’ll help you get more jobs. This approach holds true through all niches of the deck and remodeling business. If you’re not able to achieve this, you’re lacking in an area that will result in limited success, probable long term failure, and you’ll never be a major player in your market.

Quality Experience
There’s a second aspect to quality that is often under realized. It involves the actual remodeling or deck building experience associated with the project you delivered the customer. Don’t ever believe that just because you did a good job with any given project that it overcomes any trauma that accompanied the experience. A great looking project can be compromised by a problematic delivery. If the homeowner requires therapy after you’ve completed the project, it doesn’t matter how good the work was, you’ll never work for them again and you won’t receive any referrals.

Deliver the experience by training your employees and subs to show respect and courtesy to the homeowner and their property. Teach them the basics of professionalism. Organize and schedule a project to maintain a good work flow. Don’t allow the job to drag out because employees or subs aren’t showing up on time or in the proper sequence. Good communications and setting realistic expectations are part of setting the table for the customer. Keep in mind that some customers handle the construction or remodeling intrusion better than others. Even a project that goes smoothly by our standards can be nerve racking for homeowners. Set the expectations up front for the best results. Understand that the little things can be big in the customer’s eyes.

The Complete Foundation
Although the basic aspects here are the equivalent of Business 101, they cannot be overlooked. Develop trust, credibility, and confidence from the prospects at the beginning of the process to better your chances of securing a contract. Continue to strengthen this effort with the customer as the project goes on and after the project is completed. Deliver a quality project and experience as a standard and operate as a true professional. Without these basic concepts, your potential will be limited no matter how good you are at other elements of the contracting business.

Many of us entered into this business as subcontractors and without professional business or sales training. Many may believe that not having professional sales training limits there abilities. The truth is it doesn’t have to. Understand that the right combination of confidence, quality, organization, professionalism, honesty and sincerity can over come this. The key to selling in my opinion is to not sell at all but to look your customer in the eye when you speak, show that you are competent and trustworthy and that you can provide what they seek. In the end, it’s the comfort level that counts

Written by Bobby Parks of Peachtree Decks and Porches, LLC.

Posted courtesy of DeckExpo.