Selling To Remodelers: Service vs. Price
Competitive pricing is important, but tailored service is critical.
By: Kevin Anundson
At Renovations Group, Inc., our customers often come to us with a budget for a specific remodeling project or room addition to enhance their homes. Our company is as budget conscious as our clients, and while we try to meet their needs and drive prices down as far as we can, lumber and other building material products are simply too important to skimp on.
Lower grade building materials are initially an attractive alternative, however, quite often you’re just creating more work for your team. Labor hours are a significant cost in most remodeling projects, and the last thing you want to do is to pick up ten 2x4s to get two straight ones. If you use a reputable lumberyard, you’re not only more likely to get better quality framing members, you’ll get tailored services as well, and that too is a critical component of controlling project costs.
We always try to satisfy our customers’ budget by selecting materials that meet their price point and desired intention. That could mean selecting “stock grade” windows vs. the more established national brands. Cabinets, too, have a wide range of price points that can have a significant effect on project cost, not only from just the purchase of the materials themselves, but from the increased amount of labor hours some of the less expensive materials require to install due to lesser quality fabrication processes and tolerances. We know the lower cost materials quite often mean more work on our end, even for some simple tasks like pick-up and delivery, or worse yet, the necessity to return and replace the unusable materials. You don’t always get “more” by paying more; however, the old adage: “You get what you pay for” certainly holds true with our preferred suppliers. A better quality product almost always guarantees a greater service experience for my company, and a better run project for our customers.
That’s why for LBMs, we use Wisconsin-based and family-owned, Bliffert Lumber and Hardware. Their standard of quality matches ours. Although Bliffert offers contractor discounts, that’s not what keeps us coming back. Their quality millwork and framing materials, dependability, knowledgeable staff, and exceptional service solidifies our relationship and makes us repeat customers.
Bliffert Lumber and Hardware is a comprehensive company that stocks most of the construction materials we need, including the rough construction lumber, interior millwork, hardware, egress and exterior millwork such as hand rails and decking material.
They’re also a great resource for questions about current and new materials available. They’ll even source materials for us when customers inquire about unique materials they’ve heard about from their online research or in publications—saving us time. Plus, they’re extremely responsive about delivery and pick up of materials.
In some instances, Bliffert is able to perform minor structural analysis for specific load-bearing applications. Their staff is talented and eager to assist their customers whom they recognize are key to their continued success in the greater Milwaukee area. Overall, they’re a tremendous support company, and there’s value that cannot be quantified, but is certainly recognized and appreciated.
All of our subcontractors and suppliers know and understand how valuable they are to the success of our projects. “I’ll handle it” are golden words to any remodeler because it frees our time and makes the customer experience that much better. Our team lives by those words, and project completions reflect that attitude. If our flooring installer is short a piece of base molding, he won’t tell me he’ll come back next week after we supply the missing materials, he just gets the missing materials and finishes the job. Going beyond baseline services is a reflection of how we function as a team.
Some builders may start out buying LBMs based on price, but eventually all quality builders understand the downside and ultimate cost of the lesser quality materials. Replacing studs that have twisted after installation is another costly effort in both time and money, and the cost of going back and fixing the drywall and replacing the stud is huge. That scenario is less likely to happen if you start with good, quality lumber.