This article first appeared in the July/Aug 2023 issue of ProRemodeler. Written by Mark Richardson.

Today’s market environment is strange and wonky. 

Over the last few months, many remodelers have experienced weeks where the phones were quiet and then suddenly started ringing again. In some areas of the country, it’s a challenge to find team members, while in other areas, the talent lines up at the door. The economic news sounds poor, but several remodeling indicators are very positive.

All these mixed signals create feelings of uncertainty. Generally with uncertainty, it is hard to have a lot of confidence and conviction about making plans for your business. Should I push the pedal down and grow or should I pump the brakes?

It has been said, “If you don’t know the answer, then at least know the question.” Maybe in today’s market, the answer is not to look at what to do. Instead, look at what not to do.

The following are seven things I do not recommend for remodelers in the current landscape.

1. Don’t over-qualify prospects

In times of abundance, most business leaders put several filters in place to qualify prospects over the phone. These filters are often based on budget, project timeline, geographic location, personality, or other variables. In today’s unpredictable market, I would encourage removing some of these filters and allowing the dialogue to go downstream further. Tell your phone screener to back off and let the owners or salespeople go deeper on the budget discussions or project size and timing. 

 Today, clients will often go with a builder-grade window or standard faucet if it makes the difference in whether they can do the project.

2. Don’t judge a book by its cover

Your prospects’ financial situations may be very different than you initially think. Many of your potential clients could have a lot of cash on hand but in first talking with them, you would not realize it. This could be savings, family money, or some kind of windfall. Rather than sell them, try to be there to provide expert guidance that will help them buy. You might be surprised by the positive outcome.

3. Don’t upsell

With frequent and unpredictable price escalation, I recommend that you sell down rather than up. Today, clients will often go with a builder-grade window or a standard faucet if it makes the difference in whether they can get the project built or not. This takes a different mindset on your part and a revised traditional selling process.

4. Don’t assume they will sign now

I know you would like a potential client to jump on the bullet train and immediately sign a contract, but they may be taking the scenic route instead. Make sure they have a real urgency to build now, otherwise, post-COVID priorities, such as travel and family, will take precedence over the importance of your remodeling project. 

5. Don’t feel the need to pin down all the details before starting

I know this is contrary to best practices, but delaying a project in order to nail down all the specifications might cause the job to vaporize or end up being delayed much longer. Think about more allowances or even phasing the project to move it along. Set this stage at the beginning of the process and your client can help you get there.

6. Don’t continue to be strangers with past clients

Past clients are one of your greatest assets. Begin to invest an hour a day in reconnecting (an email or newsletter is not enough). Call them and visit them. These reconnects can not only be positive for business but will also help you get your mojo back.

7. Don’t think virtual relationships are okay with your team

This is a very tricky one, but we are human. I’ve noticed that the businesses I work with that have high-touch internal relationships and collaboration do much better culturally than those that are focused on the efficiency of Zoom. You might need to ease back into it, but meeting in person with your team is important.

While there are many other “don’ts,” the ones outlined here are a good start. Sometimes in life, you just need to avoid the potholes or make fewer mistakes to achieve better results or success. We are all hopeful there will be more clarity about the future but let’s begin here with the “don’ts.”