Preparing for the next job is a simple part of our routine - how about preparing for the next season?
Being Prepared - For The Job, For The Season
When getting ready to start a new project, preparation is key. In construction and remodeling, we assess the scope of work and take account of our tools and skills. What equipment will be necessary to complete the job? For the equipment I own, is everything in good working order and all required components and accessories accounted for? What are my best options for the equipment I might need to acquire or replace? There may be aspects of the job that I don't know like the back of my hand - how can I prepare for those unfamiliar tasks?
At a higher level, we take stock of our business on an annual basis to review the victories and setbacks of the prior year. What could we have done differently? Were there opportunities for differentiation, higher sales, honing of sales skills, efficiencies in installation methods?
When to Invest Your Time
The construction and remodeling industry is cyclical in the Midwest, and the slower winter period provides a good opportunity to take a beat and size up how we're doing. It's also the ideal time to reinvest in ourselves - we're talking time, not necessarily money - to learn about new sales techniques, opportunities to set ourselves apart, and ways be more effective with the labor we have available. Spending time on these activities is nearly impossible during the heat of the season - but during the winter, when temps are low and snow is piled high, it's much easier to invest time in education. Let's explore 3 ways you can discover a new competitive advantage this winter:
1. Boost Competency & Credibility with Manufacturer Certifications
Many manufacturers offer certification programs that allow you and your salespeople or installers to become experts in their products. Some of these programs are paid, while others are free. Some things that most have in common are that successful completion will reward you with:
- A certification you can include in your marketing materials to build trust with prospects
- Depth of product knowledge that can help your sales team close sales more effectively
- Installation training and resources that your installers can use to meet the manufacturers' requirements for installation
Some manufacturers will also give you preferred placement in their website contractor locator services and even provide you with customized marketing tools. What a great way to start the season with a new advantage!
One fantastic example of a manufacturer credential program is the suite of courses available from CertainTeed, which has several free contractor certification programs for roofing, siding, and more - it's a great place to start both for new employees that need to learn about building products AND for seasoned contractors that want to learn more about building systems and CertainTeed's products!
2. Take Advantage of Distributor Training Programs
Many building material distributors offer free seminars during the winter to help contractors brush up on a wide variety of business-related topics. By partnering with manufacturers, they are usually able to offer these classes to contractors for free. At Wimsatt, we've previously put together classes ranging from industry-specific topics to general business, including:
- Search engine optimization
- Attic ventilation
- Social media marketing
- Metal roofing
- Lien laws and writing contracts
- Fall protection
- In-home selling
Spend a winter morning attending a free seminar, and if even one out of a dozen ideas presented becomes something you can apply to your business, the class has been worth your time!
3. Looking for An Edge From Outside The Industry
While our industry provides no shortage of educational opportunities, you can also gain a competitive advantage by looking outside our industry for ways to set yourself apart from your competitors. Some examples include:
- The Dale Carnegie Institute, which provides training at different levels to match your level of availability and commitment ranging from webinars and online workshops to in-person seminars and classes. Their courses on leadership development can help you become a better coach at your company, while their courses on sales and presentations can help your sales team become more effective at selling in the home.
- Exploring the work of sales coaches like Jeffrey Gitomer. The self-proclaimed Sales King has authored several books that are considered essential sales reading, including the Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude and the Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness. He also offers many sales-focused resources and workshops on his website.
- Taking a look at the resources your local community college has to offer. We're not talking degree programs here - think small business development programs that offer short public seminars and workshops. A small financial and time commitment can net big results for the entrepreneur looking to grow a young company or develop skills in basic accounting, management, marketing and more! See the wide variety of seminars offered at Schoolcraft College in Livonia for examples.
Make the Time.
Our industry is constantly evolving as new opportunities emerge in materials, technology, and installation methods. Whether you have decades of experience in construction or you're just now striking out on your own with a fledgling business, there is always more to learn. Investing in yourself and your company this winter may help you discover your next competitive advantage!
About Dave Karras
Dave Karras is the Marketing Manager at Wimsatt Building Materials.