7 Ways to Grow Your Contracting Business (While Times are Good)

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After some rocky years following the housing crash, new home sales are looking good. In fact, sales of new homes jumped 5.2 percent in November, considerably higher than expected. And that average includes some tremendous regional growth. New home sales in the West and Midwest were up by 7.7 and a whopping 43.8 percent respectively during that period, according to U.S. Census data.

So, things are going well … That may be the case, but we don’t see successful contractors sitting back and counting their greenbacks in times like these. In fact, while the market is on an upswing is the perfect time to grow and strengthen your business.  During those periods you have some cash flow that can be put toward increased marketing, and with more recent sales you have the attention and ear of more clients.

Growing your business is all about establishing new customer relationships and solidifying existing ones. Use this time to promote successful projects, increase your marketing reach, and nurture client relationships.

Here are some proven ways to build your business when times are good.

#1. Boost your online presence

While things are moving along smoothly, spend some extra time on enhancing your participation online. Of course your website should always be accurate and up to date, but is it informative? Consider adding a blog as a vehicle for sharing information that’s relevant to your customers’ interests. To ensure that your content is effective, research what your audience wants from posts and never use your blog to sell. Post information that tells people something, and it’s more likely to be shared widely.

This helps you to establish yourself as a reliable expert, someone who people can rely on for relevant and accurate information. It plants the seed of trust, which makes for strong and positive relationships with customers and industry partners.

Also online, read some influential blogs in your field, and participate in the comment area conversation. Again, it’s important to resist the temptation to make a sales pitch; just interact in a positive way, and look for opportunities to share useful information. Link to these blogs to help your readers learn more as well.  

#2. Assess your progress toward goals

Success can’t happen without a roadmap, and while the market is hopping it’s a great time to check in on your progress. Hopefully your goals are quantifiable, meaning progress can be measured in some way. If not, take this time to set some specific parameters and objectives that you’ll be able to monitor over the months and years to come.

#3. Dive deeper into your marketing strategy

Take a look at your marketing strategy, and push your boundaries. One area that continues to be strong for marketing is email.  It’s certainly one of the most cost-effective approaches. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing has a return on investment of around 4300 percent. (Yeah. Two zeros.)

Of course this isn’t going to happen if you bombard people with generic “give me your money” messages. As with any online content, emails have to be targeted, personalized, and relevant. An effective marketing tool that doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time is a monthly email newsletter.

It helps to be able to keep up with what your contacts are up to, and there are plenty of tech tools to help with that. Rapportive, for example, allows you to get your contact’s LinkedIn profiles directly in your inbox.

#4. Set up an after-the-sale service program

Referrals are critical in the business, so spending some time on ways to extend your relationship with past customers can really pay off. Take a page from the Car Dealer’s handbook and provide great service after the sale. New homeowners are always in need of services: why not use your expertise to set them up with the best?

Beyond serving as a resource for referrals to excellent and trustworthy service providers, establishing a home maintenance service keeps you top-of-mind for years to come.

#5. Host an event at one of your communities/projects

Keep yourself relevant to your clients by inviting them to a gathering to showcase your latest and greatest work. Reach out to past clients. You never know which of them might be considering a move or have relatives or friends coming to the area who might be very interested in newly completed projects.

#6. Hire an assistant to make calls and follow-up on leads

One of the major ways that we lose business is by not following up on leads and inquiries. A study cited on HubSpot found that  “71% of qualified leads are never followed up with. What’s more is, of the leads that are followed up on, they’re only touched an average of 1.3 times. This represents tremendous opportunity costs not only in revenue, but in the customer/prospect experience as well.”

Especially when business is good, you likely have leads coming in on a variety of channels. It can be difficult to keep up, let alone evaluate which leads are most promising. This might be a good time to hire someone with great people skills who can follow up on those leads, contacting them, answering questions, and providing further information. This assistant could help to categorize your leads for more effective marketing going forward, as well.

#7. Revamp record keeping

Help keep things running smoothly as your company grows by evaluating your system for keeping records. If you’re still using a lot of paper and spreadsheets, check into some digital solutions. Software and platforms for business have come a very long way in just the last few years. Consider these ideas for making record-keeping more accurate and less time-consuming than ever:

  •      Use cloud storage for 24/7 access anywhere
  •      Automate billing
  •      Integrate tasks with a CRM system
  •      Share and sign documents electronically

Don’t Let Your Business Run by Chance

Learn more about our after-the-sale home maintenance programs for contractors and builders. Connect with our Glasshouse team today and start realizing the benefits of long-term client relationship building.

5 Content Marketing Tips for Contractors and Builders

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The key to connecting with potential clients online in any business is the use of content marketing. What is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute provides this definition: Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

The key here is to make the content “valuable and relevant.” Otherwise the definition would apply to any kind of marketing or ads. Good content marketing provides information that people will seek out.

So content marketing should provide information that your customers need. But why do you need content marketing? Because it has three very beneficial effects:

  •      Increased sales
  •      Lower cost
  •      More loyal customers

Here are some tips to help you maximize those benefits for your business.

#1. Take advantage of different formats

Content marketing comes in a variety of forms. Forbes lists these examples:

Infographics

These images present statistics, charts, graphs, and other information in an easy-to-read format. If you need some examples, here are 197 infographics on the topic of content marketing.

Webpages

Make the most of your site by considering search engine optimization, which helps you boost its ranking on sites like Google. Take a look at The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz.

Podcasts  

Change up your online content with some audio. It makes you visible on an additional platform, iTunes. Podcasts can be a very inexpensive way to add some snap to your online content.

Videos

Your business can have its own YouTube channel. Videos are a tremendously effective way to promote new projects.            

#2. Write a Blog

Unless you’re blogging, you’re not maximizing your marketing reach. It’s an extremely cost-effective way to connect with a wide audience and generate valuable leads.  

According to a 2016 report, B2B marketers who blog receive 67% more leads than those who don’t, and marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13 times more likely to enjoy positive ROI.

A well-written blog is the quickest way to establish your credibility as a reliable expert in your industry. If this is uncharted territory, there are plenty of resources available to get you started, like this free planner from HubSpot.

Different types of blog posts lead to different results. Denamico identifies several that are especially appropriate for builders and contractors.

Tactical

These are generally 500-750 words in length and they make up the bulk of most blogs. Tactica posts provide steps or insights to achieve a specific end-goal. This post is a tactical blog. A homebuilder’s post might include “What to Look for in a Custom Home Builder” or “How to Lower Energy Costs in Your New Home.”

In-depth

These are longer posts, and they include outside information such as data on industry trends, new products or construction techniques. These take more time to research, but can be very effective.

List

These posts are fairly easy to produce, and very shareable on social media. They usually drive short-term traffic, but you can update them periodically to get more mileage.  Examples might include a Checklist for First-Time Home Buyers or Five Easy Ways to Update your Bathroom.

Influencer

This type of post can be used to highlight other leaders in the industry or your community. An interview with an expert on sustainable building might be a great topic for an influencer post.  

Editorial

This type of post offers your considered opinion on things that matter to you: trends, legislature, new materials and construction techniques, and consumer demands. They may generate some great discussion.

Ad hoc

This type of post can be about anything that occurs to you. Write about upcoming events in your company or community. Talk about a positive customer encounter or an exciting new project. Consider Ad hoc posts as a journal that shares your company’s story.

#3. Stick to relevant topics

Cement your place as an expert in your field by covering it in your posts. Explore a range of topics that will be of interest to your target audience. If you’re low on inspiration, consult an online resource for topic ideas. They can be categorized into different stages according to where the target audience is in the prospecting process: awareness, consideration, decision, or delight.

#4. Make it fun to read/watch

HubSpot provides some great tips for making content more engaging and interactive. The key is to elicit a response, or make the reader want to share the post with someone. Online sharing really unleashes the possibilities of content marketing. Here are just a few of their ideas:

  •      New home photo albums
  •      Captioning contests
  •      Ask questions
  •      Share company and staff events, awards, and accomplishments
  •      Seasonal tips –home maintenance, etc.
  •      Property updates
  •      Local area info
  •      Property tours
  •      Floor plans
  •      Link to other blogs/content

#5. Take advantage of available services

You may be feeling a little weary just reading about all of the work that goes into effective content marketing, and it is certainly easy to get overwhelmed. There are only so many hours in the day, so how much can you realistically dedicate to generating content?

If your schedule doesn’t allow for hours of writing, our Done-For-You Newsletter may be the ideal solution. We create the valuable and relevant content your homeowners are looking to read, brand it with your logo and contact information, and automatically send it to your client list each month, so you can stay on the radar and provide useful information without neglecting your other tasks. Let us help you grow your business!

Glasshouse Launches Done-For-You Newsletters

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Keeping in touch with clients, while important, often falls by the wayside when business is good. But for most contractors, the majority of new business comes from referrals. We wrote about the value of continued communication recently and can now offer you a solution to help: Done-For-You Newsletters.

The name speaks for itself. Our Done-For-You Newsletters give you a hands-off approach to keeping in touch with your clients, generating referral business, and staying top-of-mind when a new home project arises. In a few simple steps, you can set it and forget it.

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Custom Email Templates & Articles Written by Industry Pros

We will create monthly newsletters on your behalf and send them to your client list. Our engaging newsletter templates are customized by talented designers. They include three to four pieces of content alongside your company information, logo and brand color. Upon receiving the newsletters, your customers will enjoy reading expert advice from industry professionals on essential home maintenance tips, valuable upgrade opportunities, and more.

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Branded Microsite

Additionally, we will create a personalized microsite to host articles from the newsletter along with an interactive company profile page.  Showcasing contact information, customer reviews, photos from past projects, and original articles from your newsletters, the profile pages are the perfect tool to keep your clients up-to-date on how you can keep their homes in peak condition.

The homeowner-focused articles in your microsite will be updated on a monthly basis in conjunction with the mailing of your newsletter. However your clients can visit the site at any time to read past posts or research your company. Not to mention, it’s quick and easy to make updates to your page when you have new reviews or images to share.

If your marketing plan needs a jumpstart or you are too busy to even think about how to stay relevant with past clients, Done-For-You Newsletters are the answer to your problems. Fill out our sign-up form to get started on your first newsletter campaign today!

Selling Your Home? Give Buyers Confidence with Glasshouse

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Preparing to sell your house means shifting your perspective a bit. You have to start seeing it not as your home, but as a place where others might want to live. As you probably know, there are dozens of things you can do to make the property more attractive to potential buyers.

Of course the initial impression that a home makes is critically important. That is what fuels the drive to improve curb appeal, make any necessary repairs, and upgrade fixtures and appliances.  It has spawned a whole industry, devoted to preparing and staging the home to make it more visually appealing, so that buyers can picture themselves living there.

Once prospective buyers get past the initial impression they are looking for indications of the home’s value. They want to decide whether to make an offer, and if so, how much the home is worth. Well-maintained features and systems show that a home has been well cared for, and buyers feel more confident about making an offer.

Keeping up with maintenance tasks, large and small, help a home retain its value. Industry observers tell us that neglecting maintenance can result in a 10 percent decrease in the value of a home. Without maintenance, an average home can depreciate by thousands of dollars.

When the time comes to sell that house, inspectors are likely to find a laundry list of needed repairs, and potential buyers can easily be scared off by the types of problems that will come to light.

A university study showed that regular maintenance boosts home value by about 1% per year, so maintenance slows down depreciation. That fact, combined with the fact that real estate prices overall tend to increase over time, means more value in a well-maintained home.

For the most part, if you’ve practiced good maintenance over the years, it will be evident. Any of the exterior features –siding, roof, landscaping –as well as the cosmetics inside are easy to observe, but what about when it comes to your HVAC system, plumbing, electrical, and other systems?  Unless you’ve been able to keep scrupulous records and receipts, you may not be able to demonstrate to potential buyers how well they’ve been maintained.

A sale can hang on considerations like these. Indeed, financing a purchase may be impossible for some buyers when a home requires certain repairs.  FHA loans, for example, won’t be granted for homes with structural issues.

The more you’re able to assure the buyer that the home is solid and well maintained, the more comfortable they’ll feel. Having a third party validate your statements about home maintenance can be the kind of assurance that will help buyers reach a decision.

Working with the house managers at Glasshouse can be the ideal solution. We can provide complete records of the maintenance completed on your home, along with information on the age and condition of its systems and structural elements.

Having Glasshouse as your ally means never having to wonder whether you’ve covered all of the important preventative maintenance that your home needs. A detailed and personalized maintenance calendar means that nothing is neglected or left to chance.  

Our dedicated house managers make quarterly visits to complete a preset list of maintenance tasks, building a digital catalog of the home’s systems and appliances with each visit.  They will also provide informative maintenance reports following each visit.

This comes in handy when the time comes to sell. Not only will you have few, if any repairs to make before putting the house on the market, which can save considerable time, but you’ll also be able to provide the potential buyer with peace of mind.  They can hear about how the home has been professionally cared for by the professionals who handled the job.

Preventative maintenance can save thousands in repair costs. It’s estimated that every $1 spent on home maintenance saves $100 on repairs. Explore our site to see how Glasshouse works to make it easy to keep your home in peak condition, so you can enjoy it now and maintain its value so you can find the right buyer when the time comes to sell.

Give potential buyers confidence in the value of your home with Glasshouse.

5 Ways Builders Can Stay In Touch After the Project

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The value of repeat business and customer referrals is tremendous. In fact most contractors would be hard-pressed to stay in business without the sort of word of mouth that sends new customers their way.

An essential element of customer retention is keeping in touch after the sale. Retaining a customer takes a fraction of the investment in terms of both time and money that it takes to secure a new one, and the potential returns are much higher. Your existing customers are your best source of new business, so it pays to make staying in touch a priority.

There are a few tried and true best-practices when it comes to staying in touch after the sale. Here are a few that work for contractors and home builders:

#1. A Strong Content Marketing Plan

Not all marketing aims to sell a specific item or service at a specific time. Much of it is aimed at staying top-of-mind, and establishing yourself as an expert ally on whom your customers can depend.

Email is a tremendously important marketing tool, and can be used efficiently with great results. The statistics on email’s effectiveness are numerous and compelling; here are a few important numbers:

  • For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return on investment is $44.25.
  • Email is nearly 40 times better than Facebook and Twitter at acquiring customers.
  • 91 percent of consumers check their email at least once per day on their smartphone, making it the most used functionality.
  • 70 percent of consumers always open emails from their favorite companies

Working occasional emails to existing customers into your marketing plan does not have to be time-consuming.  Services like MailChimp make it easy to set them all up at once and to go at intervals you select. There are also CRMs (customer relationship management) specifically designed for builders that let you set up “drip marketing” within their contact management features. Some popular examples are Buildertrend, Co-Construct, and Real Simple Systems.

There are many, many ways to make contact with your customers, but whatever mode you choose, make the message memorable and personal, if possible. Keep track of birthdays or home purchase anniversaries, and send a greeting. Send congratulations on milestones. Even more useful is to send reminders for home maintenance or interesting articles on homeowner tax breaks.

#2. Connect on Social Media

It’s easy to find memorable and personal ways to reach out to your customers if you connect with them on social media. Depending on the length of your client list, it may be a good idea to use Facebook’s friend lists feature to group your friends into customized lists like “first-time home buyers,” “past clients,” “industry contacts,” etc. Then you can view news feeds based on your contact lists or send messages to certain lists of contacts.

There are also email plug-ins that will help you keep up with your clients. For example, services such as Xobni and Rapportive create an address book of all your e-mail contacts and show you profiles of each contact, including their latest status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

#3. Make it an Event

If you’ve recently completed a project or broke ground on a new neighborhood development, invite your customers to an open house or community tour.  When your new projects make a favorable impression on existing clients, it does three things: plants the idea of making a purchase themselves, assures them of your continued interest and regard, and gives them a specific product to recommend to friends and associates.

Most people know of someone who’s in the market for a home, and if they are impressed with your new project, there’s a potential connection.

#4. After-the-Sale Closing Gifts

One way to create a lasting impression and stay in your client’s mind after a sale is to send a thoughtful closing gift. It’s smart to choose something that recurs, in order to keep your name in the client’s mind. Gifts that make homeownership easier or more enjoyable are also an excellent choice. Here are some suggestions:

  • Hire a cleaning crew or home design service
  • Smart home products, like Nest thermostat, smart garage door openers, or smoke detectors.
  • Monthly gift membership, like fruit-of-the-month
  • Subscription to a relevant magazine –DIY, home design, or gardening are popular topics.

We recently talked extensively about closing gifts. You can find the article here.

#5. Provide a Home Maintenance Plan

For builders, providing preventative home maintenance after the sale can be perhaps the most significant way to stay in touch. Yes, the industry is accustomed to providing a home warranty with the completion of any build —but when the homeowner cashes in on that warranty, it’s typically because something had gone wrong.

With an ongoing preventative maintenance program, builders are able to stay in touch in a positive way —by helping to maintain and care for the home. And, what better person to provide maintenance than the one who built the house? Not only will this keep builders top-of-mind, it can turn into an ongoing revenue source.

Glasshouse: The Preventative Maintenance Solution

For builders and contractors who don’t have the infrastructure or technology in place to manage after-the-sale, routine preventative maintenance, Glasshouse can help. Our proven program and plug-n-play technology can help you stay connected with your clients long after the sale —all while providing the maintenance today’s homeowners don’t have the time or energy to do. Learn more today!

Contractors Find New Profit Stream After the Build

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There’s no denying that the construction and housing industry can have its ups and downs. We don’t have to think too far back to 2008 to remember that. But, there’s an underlying source of revenue —one that doesn’t see dramatic ebbs and flows— that can help you increase your bottom line and build relationships and trust with your clients. And, it’s home maintenance!

Consider the automotive industry. Edmunds.com tells us that more than 40 percent of gross profits for an auto dealership come from the service and parts department. According to research from Arthur D. Little:

Rapidly declining profit margins in the new car sales business together with the continuous extension of car life are making the after sales business increasingly important.

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Focus on Profit Margins in Construction

Profit margins, in any industry, are always a concern. In fact, material costs began a steady rise in the spring of 2016, and observers predict they’ll continue to climb in the coming years. Associated Builders and Contractors earlier this year identified these key inputs that contribute to the overall costs of construction materials:

  • Prices for steel mill products expanded 4.6 percent from a month ago, but are down 5.2 percent on a yearly basis.
  • Iron and steel prices expanded 5.8 percent month-over-month, but are down 2 percent year-over-year.
  • Softwood lumber prices expanded 2.2 percent for the month and 6.3 percent from May 2016.
  • Fabricated structural metal prices remained unchanged month-over-month and are down 1.9 percent year-over-year.
  • Prices for plumbing fixtures and fittings expanded 0.2 percent for the month and are up 0.3 percent from the same time last year.
  • Prices for prepared asphalt and tar and roofing and siding products expanded by 0.4 percent month-to-month and 0.7 percent year-over-year.

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Contractors Don’t Have to Reinvent the Wheel

In the same way that car dealers realize considerable additional income by providing service and maintenance after the sale, contractors can see their profit grow when they create a long-term relationship with homebuyers.

The automotive industry has been doing this for years. After-the-sale maintenance provides dealerships with the ability to stay in close contact with their clients months and years after the initial sale. They’re able to build trust and relationships, which impact future sales and referral opportunities.

What’s more, maintenance and repair is static. It’s not going to ebb and flow in the same, often drastic, cycles that the construction industry has seen historically. It’s an opportunity for contractors to create an ongoing revenue stream that can keep them afloat when times are tough, and can get them ahead when times are good. Remember, a market downturn is inevitable, but it’s easier to build out a client list when times are good, you’re building, and you can work a service plan into the overall bid for the home or remodeling project. That recurring income can keep the business afloat when larger projects die down.

But, contractors don’t have to reinvent the wheel. At Glasshouse, we’ve created the process and technology needed to provide your clients with ongoing service —home maintenance— after the sale, thus allowing our contractor partners to open up a whole new revenue stream. It’s plug and play!

“We’ve found that maintaining long term relationships through home maintenance with our clients not only increases revenues, it also increases the value of their properties, and mitigates systemic issues developing over long periods of time. Increased facetime with our clients leads to more eyes on their property…  which leads to a higher level of protection on what, for most, is the largest investment they will make over the course of a lifetime.” – Jed Daoust, Principal/CEO at Daoust Design and Construction

Customer Relationships. Managed.

Preventative maintenance is key to retaining a home’s value and maximizing the life and efficiency of its systems. Contractors are ideally positioned to advise and facilitate the ongoing maintenance of the homes they build.

Providing homeowners with a comprehensive maintenance plan helps them to feel confident in their purchase and in their ability to retain the value of their home. Not only can this create income for contractors, but it can establish an ongoing professional relationship that lasts for many years beyond the sale.

Learn more by connecting with our team at Glasshouse today!


 

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Here’s Why the Auto Industry Services After the Sale (And You Should, Too)

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For years, the automotive industry has used after-the-sale service and maintenance as a way to generate additional income for their dealerships and to stay top-of-mind with clients. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that car dealerships make around 44 percent of their gross profit from the service department.

Using Penske Automotive Group (owner of 326 auto franchises covering 40 brands) as an example, Popular Mechanics reports that “the gross margin for service and parts was 57 percent for the Penske group, vs. just 8 percent for new-vehicle sales.”

But what does this have to do with the construction industry? Well, the same ideas that helped car dealers nearly double their profits and develop long-lasting relationships with their clients can be applied to the business of homebuilding.

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Building Trust via After-the-Sale Service

The primary reason people bring their cars to a dealer for service is peace of mind — they trust the dealer as the expert on their vehicle. When you bring your Ford to a Ford dealership, you are dealing with technicians who know these vehicles inside and out. The local mechanic down the street knows about engines, but not necessarily the nuances of every specific make and model. The dealership provides ongoing training that keeps their mechanics up to date on Ford models and parts, and they have greater familiarity from working on these cars day in and day out.

The same holds true for construction. Who better to advise and direct repairs and maintenance for a home than the contractor who built it? A home is a much bigger investment than a new car, so surely protecting that investment should get just as much consideration.

Fostering Ongoing Relationships

People also take their car to the dealer for service because, throughout the buying process, they’ve established a relationship with that dealer. Loyal customers who return for regular maintenance and continue to receive good service are far more likely to refer future customers and to continue doing business with that dealership.

Providing a service plan to new home buyers is a great way to leverage the trust they already have in your company and continue to build a long-term relationship. Few homeowners are aware of how critical preventative maintenance is for retaining their home’s value and saving on repair costs. And even fewer actually do it. Offering to come in quarterly and do the simple maintenance and checkups that keep a home in good condition benefits everyone. The homeowner is grateful to have their home’s expert help retain its value. And you, the builder, benefit from being top-of-mind for referrals and future projects.

Stopping Preventative Maintenance Woes

New cars come with a sophisticated feedback mechanisms that tells owners when it’s time to change the oil, check the battery, and even replace the tires. The automation of the car’s maintenance requirements makes it easy for owners to protect and extend the life of the car.

Homes don’t come with a dashboard, but the average homeowner could certainly benefit from one!  Regardless of how well you inform them of the home’s recommended maintenance items, even the most conscientious homeowner will soon forget. And the few who do perform preventative maintenance will not recognize the early signs of dry rot, termites, or water damage – meaning it won’t get noticed until it becomes catastrophic, expensive, and inconvenient.

A well maintained home retains its value, and structure and systems kept in good repair make for a more comfortable home with fewer unpleasant surprises.  Considering the fact that for most people, a home is the largest investment they’ll ever make, it seems natural for them to want to protect the property. Make it easy for them by offering a maintenance plan.

A Shift in Perspective

As contractors and homebuilders, these ideas are a shift in perspective. The industry is accustomed to “building and forgetting.” Yes, there may be a home warranty involved, but how well does that help build relationships, ongoing trust, and your bottom line? If the industry were to adopt a strategy similar to the automotive maintenance model, it could see similar success.

The good news is that Glasshouse has developed and tested a software platform that makes adding a Service Plan simple and straightforward. We created a quarterly preventative maintenance model that makes sense for all homes and is easy for any field technician to perform so that nothing is overlooked or neglected. Glasshouse’s platform helps foster and profit from those relationships that you’ve worked so hard to establish.

Learn more by connecting with our team today or download the full infographic here.

 

6 Perfect Housewarming Gifts For Millennials in the Bay Area

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Millennials. Such a familiar term, and for good reason. They’re the largest demographic in the U.S., and they’ll continue to dominate as the boomers age. In fact, Pew Research tells us that in 2015 for the first time, there were more millennials than Baby Boomers in the U.S. workforce. The Census Bureau predicts that they’ll soon outnumber the Boomers by almost half a million, and the difference will only grow as the years go on.

These statistics help explain why so many of your clients fit into the millennial age group. While for years they have tended to prefer renting to buying their homes, it appears as though this is changing. The NAR’s Generational Trends Report for this year is showing that millennials are growing up, and their home-buying decisions are becoming more traditional.

While they’re becoming more traditional in some ways, millennials continue to hold many views that set them apart. They like to work collaboratively, interact on social media, and form a strong connection with their communities. Many millennials are actively involved in the community, in addition to holding challenging jobs.

When you’re thinking about a useful and memorable housewarming gift for your millennial clients, it’s good to keep these points in mind. Millennials are keenly interested in taking care of their homes, which represent such a major investment. They also feel that spending time with family and friends is very important for a well-balanced life.  Their families may be growing, and they have busy careers.  

What are some housewarming gifts that can appeal to these priorities?

#1. Cater to their tastes

If your clients have ever made a passing reference to specialty brews, they will love a monthly subscription such as a craft beer of the month club. The Rare Beer Club delivers two to six bottles of beer to subscribers each month. It features a wide variety of beers, and a subscription like this has an extra advantage. It keeps your name in the client’s mind for an extended time, a sure way to increase referrals.

There are dozens of options for subscriptions that deliver specialty treats and gourmet foods – even beauty products, jewelry, and more. Your clients will appreciate the customized feel of this gift.

#2. Help protect their investment

The home represents a huge investment for all of us, and millennials want to retain its value. This requires good preventative maintenance, but young families seldom have the time, tools, and expertise to handle the job in a comprehensive way.

Gift your lucky homeowner with a subscription to Glasshouse, which professionally handles all of the routine maintenance for the home, taking the task off the homeowner’s plate to give them more time for family and friends.

#3. Accommodate their devices

Millennials love technology, so a gift that complements their devices can be a hit. There are some amazing but inexpensive accessories for smart phones, iPads, and other devices available from merchants on Etsy. Many are handmade and very unique, like docking stations and stands made from wood and other natural materials.

#4. Help them kick back

Another great subscription idea is one that helps millennials relax and enjoy some entertainment. This could be a subscription to a streaming site like Hulu or Netflix, or a one-time gift of tickets to an upcoming concert that you know they’d love. Movie passes can be a great gift for a family.

#5. Tech is their friend

With millennials, you can’t really go wrong with technology. Pick an item that they likely don’t have (everyone has an iPhone), and will help make their home cozier. A Nest thermostat can be a great gift, and it keeps on giving through lower energy costs and a more comfy home climate. Another winning techy gift might be a Roomba vacuum. Fun, practical, and very techy.

#6. Make a donation

Millennials make charity donations at a high rate, so your clients might appreciate a donation made in their name. Pick a local charity that lets them feel connected to their new community. Go Out and Help’s site provides an extensive list of Bay Area charities, so you can choose one that meets your client’s interest and your budget.

Bay area millennials are an important segment of the community’s home-buying population, and a terrific potential source for referrals. Show your appreciation for their business by choosing a housewarming gift that demonstrates your understanding of their priorities. Consider the individual, and choose one of the suggested gifts above to make a lasting impression.

3 Reasons Why Staying Top-of-Mind After the Sale Means More Referral Business

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Referrals are the lifeblood of any business. In the real estate industry, for example, in which referral business is always a topic of conversation, referrals and repeat business constitute 32 percent of all the business generated. They’re tremendously advantageous, not only in terms of volume, but also because they significantly boost the return on investment for all of your marketing efforts.

Whether you’re a real estate agent, a contractor or home builder, it makes sense to maintain long-term relationships with clients. First, because they themselves may be a source of repeat business. When past customers come back for another deal, the profit margin increases, because marketing and acquisition costs are negligible at that point.

In fact, it costs 5 to 8 times less to generate revenue from an existing customer than from a new one.

The research on repeat customers shows clearly their potentially outsized impact on profits. Another report cites that “repeat clients tend to spend more money over time, offer more customer referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations, make fewer demands on service professionals, and can even lower your business costs since they’re cheaper than acquiring new customers.”

Second, as noted above, your existing customers are also your best source of recommendations and referrals. The National Association of Realtors® Member Profile for 2016 tells us that, while repeat customers represent 14 percent of all business generated, referrals account for another 18 percent.  Some research indicates an even higher level of business via referrals, taking “word of mouth” into account.

Given these figures, there can be no doubt that expenditures of time and revenue on customer retention are a good idea. Keep in mind, however, that there are some factors influencing whether customers stick with a service or company that are often out of your control. Research indicates that there are 4 common reasons that clients may feel locked in with their service providers:

  • Perceived switching costs (they believe it would be too big a nuisance or relatively costly to find anyone else);
  • Relational benefits and satisfaction (a good experience; satisfied with the job you’ve done so far);
  • Obligatory factors (they feel obligated to use you, either because you were recommended by family or friends or because of the work you’ve already done for them);
  • Personality factors (they may be resistant to change or even may want to avoid the discomfort in hurting your feelings by using someone else).

Knowing these factors, as well as your clients’ personalities, can guide your contact with existing customers. For example, pointing out the length of the relationship or thanking the client for their longtime loyalty can encourage them to stay with your company.

The Benefits of Staying in Touch

Staying top of mind with existing clients maximizes both repeat business and referrals, which are major profit generators. Here are several reasons why keeping in touch with your clients has such great impact.

  1. It’s Cost-Effective

A recent study put out by the Wharton School found that referred customers generated 16% more profits than their non-referred counterparts. Considering that the cost of marketing to referrals is minor or even non-existent, this means that more of the revenue generated from these new customers goes into your pocket.

  1. It Builds Loyalty

Customers that come to you as referrals are more likely to stay with you for the long term, because they’re entering the relationship with a higher level of trust already established. The same Wharton study found that client referrals are also 18% more likely to stay with your business. When they took into account the higher profits and great loyalty of referred customers, researchers found that the lifetime value of a referred customer can be up to 25% greater than a non-referred customer.

  1. It Makes You the Expert

The communications you provide in staying in touch with your customers should include information that’s relevant to them and also increases their awareness of the services you can provide. For contractors or home builders, for example, staying in touch after the sale allows them to demonstrate their expertise —whether that be through maintenance, side projects or new business.

Making After-the-Sale Communications Work for Your Business

The keys to effective communication after the sale are consistency and relevance. Set up a schedule for making contact, and stick to it. Keep track of your clients, and of how their needs may change over time, so that you can share information that matters to them.

While the real estate industry as a whole has focused on strategies to build and grow referral business, the construction side of the industry has seemed to lag behind —finding it difficult to develop “reasons” for contact after the sale.

Today, Glasshouse is solving this problem for real estate agents and contractors alike. For agents, the preventative maintenance services delivered by Glasshouse Service Providers make an ideal closing gift. We’ve talked about this before in our “Modernizing the Closing Gift to Maximize Referrals” article.

And, for contractors and home builders, Glasshouse is the perfect “reason” to initiate a touch point. Some of our clients start out by continuing communication with their customers via our Done-for-You newsletters, a branded monthly email full of home maintenance tips, advice on home upgrades, and more. While others maintain more direct contact through our plug-and-play software platform and app.

With our proven technology, builders can provide and manage invaluable after-the-build home maintenance plans —customized to their client’s homes—that not only keep their homes in tip-top shape, but keep the builder top-of-mind unlike ever before. What’s more, it’s a revenue source for builders that is more likely to withstand the ebb and flow of the market.

To learn more about Glasshouse partnership opportunities including Done-for-You Newsletters and how our service platform can help you maximize referral business after the sale, contact our team today!

Lesser Known Home Maintenance Tasks with Big Price Tags

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Home maintenance is something that’s always with us. It’s important to plan for the associated costs and to understand how they will morph over time.

Experts recommend that you set aside 1 percent of your home’s purchase price annually for maintenance and repairs, but that’s an average cost. There will thankfully be years when you don’t spend nearly that much on maintenance. Unfortunately, there will also be years in which you spend much more.

What you pay for home maintenance and repairs is influenced by several factors. The age of your home is probably the most significant. New homes need very little maintenance (but they do need it!), while a home that’s over 20 years old will likely be ready for some major updates. That is the time when the roof or major appliances may need replacing. Older homes also need to have weatherproofing restored, in many cases, to hold down energy costs.

Weather itself can have a big impact on the cost of maintaining a home. Climate extremes are hard on houses and their systems. Whether the issue is frigid winters, with their heavy demands on heating systems, frozen pipes, and snow-covered roofs or hot, humid summers, bringing moisture problems and struggles with insect damage, homes are vulnerable to extreme weather.

An informative piece on The Balance blog recommends adding 10 percent to your maintenance budget for each of these factors that fit your house, along with whether it’s located in a floodplain or is a single-family home (condos and duplexes cost less to maintain).

Being aware of this consideration can help considerably in budgeting for home maintenance. Another thing to know about is some of the potential big-ticket repairs that you may encounter on your journey.

Replacing rotting flooring and joists

This job can run into the tens of thousands, and is also a major disruption in the home. Undetected leaks are often left to do their worst for years, and it’s only a matter of time until major repairs are needed.

Avoiding this expense entirely is surprisingly easy. One important, but often overlooked practice is regular inspection of the caulk in the kitchen and bath. The caulking in kitchens and bathrooms keeps water from seeping into the crevices and crannies around sinks and tubs. Once the water gets in, mold proliferates (especially in damp areas around showers and tubs). Worse, infiltrating water could lead to wood rot in the structural framing beneath. Recaulking old or mildewed caulking is a basic home repair, requiring only a few tools and inexpensive materials.

Another way to avoid water damage is to promptly repair plumbing leaks. Fixing leaky faucets and other common household plumbing leaks can save the average homeowner about 10 percent on water bills, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Repairing or replacing damaged decking

Particularly if you’re living in one of the extreme climates mentioned above, a neglected deck might need to be extensively repaired or even replaced. A few gallons of sealant will cost $50 or less and applying it can be the work of one afternoon.

Repairing termite damage

It costs $3000 on average to repair termite damage to the home, according to Termite.com, and fumigating the house would cost even more. This cost can be avoided with regular inspections, which are very inexpensive: usually under $100. When trouble is identified, the problem can be eliminated with an inexpensive spot treatment.

Roof repairs and replacement

Okay, this probably doesn’t qualify as a lesser-known maintenance expense, but did you know that a lot of roof problems are caused by clogged or damaged gutters?

It’s true. Getting water off and away from the house as quickly as possible is the best way to keep it from doing any damage. When gutters backup and overflow, water seeps under the shingles and begins its insidious work on vulnerable materials. Keeping your gutters clear can save you some serious change.

Repairing foundation cracks, bulges, and settling

The foundation’s integrity affects all the parts of your home, so when problems develop you may be forced to pay thousands for repairs. The Foundation Repair Network reports that major foundation repairs can cost $10,000 to $14,000, while repairing a single crack may cost $800 to $1500.

These costs can often be completely avoided through regular inspection. Preventative steps can include ensuring that downspouts empty at least 2 feet from the foundation, and that the ground slopes away from the house to keep water from pooling at the foundation.

Download a free copy of our whitepaper: What does Home Maintenance Really Cost?