Kitchen Solvers trains franchise owners on ways to network and cultivate customers
by Gerry Henley
How does a home improvement business ensure a steady stream of work? That’s an important question for any startup business.
Here’s a peek into how we train franchise owners to recognize opportunities to build their businesses. Read more about our extensive sales training and support here.
I’m always surprised that more remodeling firms don’t network beyond their contracting and subcontracting peers. By joining a small business networking group like BNI, you can quickly connect with a broad range of professionals who agree to share referrals. LinkedIn is a great resource for small business networking group, too, and if you’re new to it, I’d be happy to be your first connection!
Real estate agents can be a fantastic source of referrals for a home improvement business, too — and many real estate offices hold monthly seminars for their agents. Ask to speak to them about how kitchen remodeling can boost home values and accelerate sales, and that kitchen cabinet refacing is quicker and more affordable than remodeling. Certification classes for new real estate agents offer another opportunity for you to network and educate. The knowledge will help real estate agents serve their clients, and you’ll be the first person they recommend.
One of our franchisees, Fran Rainey in St. Charles, Minn., recently struck gold by walking into a 19-unit apartment complex and asking if he could talk to the property manager. There was no obvious sale — Fran simply wanted to let the apartment manager know what Kitchen Solvers does and how cabinet refacing works: it’s usually less expensive; it’s fast; residents can continue to live at home and use their kitchens during the remodel, so they don’t have to relocate … and the property manager loved the idea. Here’s the thing: His company represents about 1,500 units in the area. That one prospecting call is going to lead to a steady stream of jobs.
Prospecting can be informal, too. Chat up the person next to you in line at the pharmacy. Ask them about their day and mention what you do. Don’t miss an opportunity to let people know about your business, and keep a stack of business cards in your pocket — then hand them out like they’re candy.
Play the long game
Most kitchen remodeling customers take about two years from their decision to remodel to hiring a remodeler. It’s a big investment, and most people are unfamiliar with the process. Making a big decision with limited information is unnerving, which is why customers tend to spend a lot of time educating themselves.
We make the process easier. Kitchen Solvers franchise owners are trained to recognize where people are in the sales process and provide the most helpful information. A homeowner just beginning to think about a remodel may not want to see every cabinet, hardware or countertop option.
Most customers go through four steps:
- Investigation: What are people doing with kitchen remodels these days? What will it cost?
- Evaluating options: What are my choices? What are the trade-offs?
- Setting criteria: The new kitchen must add a pantry to the existing cabinets; all hinges must be hidden; we want cherry cabinets; and the existing granite countertop needs to stay where it is.
- Making the decision: This is who we’re going to hire and how much we’re going to spend.
We train our franchise owners to help people out at every step, which turns Kitchen Solvers into a trusted resource.
Unlike most remodelers, we don’t just ask, “How much have you got to spend?” Instead, we offer (at step one) our insights into kitchen trends and what has made other customers happy, as well as email newsletters about kitchen remodeling; (at step two) information about the range of remodeling options; (at step three) expertise in how a kitchen can be reconfigured, along with the pros and cons; and (step four) help in deciding.
By using all three of these approaches, Kitchen Solvers franchise owners keep the project pipelines full. To learn more about our training, as well as other aspects of the business that help Kitchen Solvers owners succeed, check out our research pages at www.KitchenSolvers.com, download our free franchise information report, and read our blog for Q&As with owners and customers.