Accounts in hand: contractor training can give pro dealers a better understanding of their local remodelers and might build a business or two in the process

Accounts in hand: contractor training can give pro dealers a better understanding of their local remodelers and might build a business or two in the process – View From Remodeling

Chris Wood

Most lumberyards don’t offer training for remodelers. They believe contractors don’t need it. Except for the top 5 percent to 10 percent of remodeling firms, they’re wrong. While quality contractors understand, for instance, a 50 percent to 67 percent or higher markup over direct cost or a 100 percent markup for the handyman business, the majority of contractors still charge 15 percent to 20 percent markup. Training owners in the economies of running a business would eliminate this problem.

That training approach must also cover all the basic operating systems in residential construction, such as preconstruction conferences, the collection of monies due, writing change orders, precompletion punch lists, and certificates of satisfaction. Manufacturers–who will likely bear the training expense will also want to train remodelers in selling and using their products and services.

Lumberyards are in a unique position to train contractors about the differences between remodeling and handyman services. Educating remodelers in the nature of the handyman business will also provide lumberyards with installers for handy-man-type products they carry, such as ceiling. fans.–From “Put Lumberyards to Work, “by Walt Stoeppelwerth, REMODELING, October 2002, p. 33

Most pro dealers have a grasp on who the strong professional remodelers are in their markets–the top-tier pros who are flexible enough to make business changes and don’t need training in accounting, job costing, or installation techniques. Pro dealers also know their handyman markets–sometimes nonprofessional and not very quick with supply chain communication, or supply chain payment, for that matter. High customer maintenance with low return on investment isn’t a market characteristic that anyone in residential construction supply is clamoring for.

For many pro dealers, sifting through the ranks of local remodelers to add more accounts and customer depth is often a tough task. Particularly for larger, multi-unit operations, it can be difficult to determine where the small project journeymen end and the higher-dollar pro remodelers begin.

As Stoeppelwerth suggests in REMODELING, canvassing your overall repair/remodel market with general business and job project training is a great way to pinpoint the up-and-comers, establish relationships with potential installers, and develop a positive partnering image for your company. Still, organizing a perpetual contractor development program is a bit of a stretch for the pro lumberyard. While everyone in the industry wants to assist their customers in building a better business, there are not too many signs going up “XYZ Lumber and Business School.”

But Stoeppelwerth makes some valid points. Remodelers have a thirst for training, value-added services, and partnerships that drives them away from big-box retailers. Lumberyards are obviously the first recourse for these solution-hungry contractors, and value-rich pro dealers stand to gain by offering some preliminary answers and then nurturing development potential. Yes, there might be a down-and-out account in the mix, but on the other hand, you just might end up training a handyman into a professional (and account-bearing) contractor along the way.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Hanley-Wood, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group