Thursday, April 22, 2010

Help Your Clients With Earth-Friendly Remodeling Projects

It’s Earth Day, a day to inspire awareness and appreciation for the environment. Help your clients to be more aware by suggesting environmentally friendly remodeling projects. Recommend sustainable natural products, reclaimed materials, low-VOC paints and materials made from recycled products. Keep energy efficiency in mind. The earth will thank you and so will your clients!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My lean mean hairdresser

I visited my hairdresser yesterday for my normal appointment. I’ve been going to her for years and it was a regular visit. She had some exciting news to share. She told me I can now schedule my appointments with her on-line. I simply create an account with the on-line appointment service, click on her name and schedule my appointments. This morning I scheduled my hair appointments for the rest of the year. Pretty cool.

As we chatted yesterday, she told me that one of her biggest problems since she doesn’t have an assistant is the scheduling of appointments. She tried to schedule the next appointment before a customer left but, inevitably, someone needed to re-schedule or didn’t know their schedule and would call back. That led to playing phone tag. The process was frustrating and inefficient.

Using an on-line appointment scheduling service allows her to delegate that task and put it squarely in the hands of her customer. The service even syncs with the customer’s Outlook or Google calendar and sends the customer an automatic appointment reminder e-mail.

In this “new economy,” businesses must find new ways to become leaner yet more efficient at the same time. That may seem like an oxymoron but it is not. There are many tasks we do that can be handed off and not always to another person in our own organization. Many on-line services have cropped up that can handle anything from setting appointments to reminding us of birthdays and anniversaries.

Look at the processes in your own organization, especially the ones that take up the most time and are the most inefficient. Now, get on-line and start researching. Talk to other service providers to see how they handle these same issues. I bet there are other people out there who have conquered the same things that are driving you crazy.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Keep In Touch

So you’ve sold a job but the actual work won’t begin for a month, maybe two or three. You might be waiting on custom materials or the weather or something else. Do you stay in touch with your customer?

Yes! You may need to meet to finalize some of the allowances. Or maybe you send out some follow-up materials. Call or e-mail with a status of the material order (you’re expecting the cabinets in next week, etc.)

Customers don’t want to think you’ve forgotten about them. Give them a little love periodically and keep them happy.

Friday, March 5, 2010

"Cash for Caulkers" could bring more jobs to the industry

President Obama released more details about his Cash for Caulkers program, called HOMESTAR, that he hopes will soon become law.

The program will use rebates direct to consumers to help with the purchase of energy-saving investments for the home such as insulation, duct sealing, water heaters, HVAC units, windows, roofing and doors. Under the Silver Star Rebate, consumers can choose a combination of upgrades for rebates up to $3000 per home. The Gold Star Rebate program would be for homeowners interested in a whole home energy audit and retrofits that would achieve a 20% energy savings. The program will call for using products primarily made in the US and will require installation by certified contractors. Field audits by independent quality assurance providers would ensure that the installation was done properly.

The administration says that the program will create “tens of thousands of jobs,” save consumers between $200 and $500 each year in energy costs, and reduce energy use equivalent to three coal-fired power plants each year.

It’s estimated that the program would cost about $6 billion and would see participation by about 3 million households.

Of course, the details are still being worked out and Congress has not signed the bill into law although a similar proposal has been included in the Senate Democrats’ Jobs Agenda.

For more information, see the White House’s press release about the program.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An Overview of the Lead Paint Regulations for Contractors and Remodelers

Check out my newest article, An Overview of the Lead Paint Regulations For Contractors and Remodelers, for a quick overview of the new Lead laws that go into effect on April 22, 2010.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Countdown to the New Lead Paint Rules

Today is March 1st and in exactly 52 days, your life as a remodeler will change. That’s because on April 22nd, the EPA’s Lead Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program goes into effect.

If you have not yet begun the process of complying with this new law, you need to start asap. In the post What to do today to comply with the Lead Based Paint Program, I listed two things that must be done immediately: submit the EPA’s Renovator firm application and sign up for a lead safe work practices training class.

Equally important is to create your new operating procedures for dealing with the law. How will you comply? What steps will you take when a new lead calls in to determine if that home falls under the law? At what point in your process will you give the required pamphlet to the homeowner? Who will be responsible for that step and how will you document it? This new law will require a change to your current procedures. Be sure you know what you will do, who will do it and how. And write it down!

And remember, even if the home is built after 1977, you will still have to document that fact in your files. Yep, it’s more work. You need to look at your pricing, too. How will you bill the extra work required by the new law?

You’ve got a lot to do between now and April 22nd. Don’t wait. Write your new procedures now and put them into practice so you can work out any kinks.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Federal agencies issue guidelines on toxic drywall - Home Channel News

Finally - some much-needed guidance regarding the toxic drywall issue.

Federal agencies issue guidelines on toxic drywall - Home Channel News:
"Federal agencies issue guidelines on toxic drywall (Jan. 29)

Two federal agencies, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, have issued a joint set of guidelines to help homeowners and contractors identify so-called “toxic” drywall in homes. The process takes into account visual signs of metal corrosion, evidence of drywall installation in the relevant time period, and the identification of other corroborating evidence."

Read on for more . . .