Saturday, December 21, 2013

Doing the bathroom remodel right


It is that time of year when bathroom remodels become a high priority for homeowners. While getting the right design, materials, colors, etcetera, is time consuming, these tasks are nevertheless some of the more enjoyable aspects of remodeling a bathroom.

The most common reasons people remodel their bathrooms are because they want to enlarge, update, create a new use for an existing space or they want to personalize their bathroom. In most cases, choosing the right contractor makes a world of difference in the overall success of remodeling a bathroom.

Today, I want to expose you to things you need to be mindful of before you begin redoing your bathroom. There are issues that often times can blow an already tight budget, or in worst case scenarios these items can drastically alter the completion time and/or plans.
When a client calls me to remodel their bathroom, I first off walk them through what I call the out-of-sight issues that need to be considered. Yes, picking out tile, marble and vanity tops are the fun things, as they should be. But getting your bathroom, right and tight is critical.

First off, make sure the existing floor is secure and suitable for the type of fixtures and flooring you will be installing. Have the contractor look for rotted areas in the floor. Also check for squeaks and make sure the floor is level. Additionally, if you are moving the location of the shower etc, make sure the plumbing below can be adapted without the need to cut through framing beams.

Consider the existing insulation, or lack thereof in the bathroom. Chances are you may want to redo the interior walls. Such an event often leads to installing new insulation or at a minimum adding to the old. You will also want the wiring to be checked to gain some insight into the overall electrical costs. A lot of people think an electrician can just jump off this or that wire. When the reality is that often times a bathroom remodeling project requires substantial wiring work.

Finally, when remodeling a bath give a lot of consideration to installing a noise barrier. Next to the living room, the bathroom is often times the noisiest room in the house. What with running water, toilet flushing, hair dryers and more, a bathroom can be noisy. This issue is never more apparent then when someone is using the bath early in the morning or late at night.

Remember, make this a fun project. At the same time, ask a lot of questions in order to know what you currently don't know before work begins.
 

Resolutions for a business



If you are making New Year's resolutions, do they involve your business or you as a professional business person? Think about this. A majority of your customers or clients are making New Year’s resolutions. While your customers/clients are in the mood to make changes, it is the perfect time to make a stronger connection, or to reconnect.

I have always wondered why businesses do not put out a questionnaire to their customers, inquiring about their resolutions. There is much to learn about your customer base by learning what they want to change. Make the questionnaire anonymous or not. Also, offer a small discount for people to take the time to fill out the questionnaire.

Some business owners set goals the first of each year to build their consumer/client base. I think it is important to also set a goal to further harvest your existing consumer base. Connecting with your consumer base via resolution is a creative way to gain a more personal understanding of your consumer.

You want your business to have top-of-mind-awareness with your consumers. The best way to build that awareness is to connect in a deeper, more meaningful way than your competition does. If you have a better understanding of how your customers want to improve themselves and the world around them, then you have a competitive advantage.

The secret to having success with this is how well you aggregate, analyze and implement your learnings. The goal to doing this should be for you to be able to better tailor your business to meet the ever changing needs and desires of your consumers. 

Information is a power tool to have in your business - building toolbox. You can buy a lot of research data. But, at the end of the day would you rather make a business decision using general data collected from the masses, or would you rather have important personal information collected directly from your customers/clients?

Try an anonymous questionnaire that asks for resolutions and why they are important to the person. The answers just may unlock the marketing secret to building a deeper recurring relationship with your consumer base.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Resolve to better maintain your home in 2014



It's that time of year where resolutions are on most peoples' minds. Perhaps the resolution is to eat better, lose weight, enjoy life more or maybe even adopt a pet. Of all of the resolutions I have heard about throughout my life, seldom, if ever, have I heard someone resolve to better maintain their home in the coming year. Think about yourself for a moment. If you make resolutions, have you ever made one to better maintain your home? If so, was it kept? If you never made such a resolution, why?

Chances are that your home is the largest physical asset in your portfolio. Yet, most homes are not maintained to the level they should be. People hire a professional to maintain their financial portfolio, so that it is properly maintained and that it deteriorates as little as possible. People go to a doctor to help maintain their health, so that one's body does not prematurely deteriorate. Your finances and health are proactively maintained, yet for most people maintaining their largest physical asset is a reactive decision.

Maintaining your home properly improves its safety, your health as well as your significant investment. Add to this, improved functionality and overall acceptable appearance and you have every reason to consider making a resolution to better maintain your home. If these reasons do not encourage you to do so, what would it take?

I read once that maintaining your home costs 10 times less than repairing or replacing poorly maintained items. As an example, your gutters should be cleaned twice a year. When cleaning your gutters, check the fascia board directly behind your gutters to insure the paint or stain is not coming off, leaving bare wood exposed to damaging elements. A little touch up paint can prevent rotted trim board replacement.

You are a smart person. It just makes sense to properly maintain your home, as opposed to overlooking or adapting items in need of attention. So this January, after going to the gym, sit down, write out a home maintenance honey-do list and make the resolution to master it.
 
 

Implementing branding success


As someone who loves everything there is to love about branding, I find myself particularly interested in unique brands. I believe that as you create or recreate a brand, uniqueness needs to be a cornerstone of its development. 


Hall Implement Company is a unique brand that has always fascinated me, and I think that taking a look at what makes the brand unique, will provide you will some good takeaways. 

  Founded in 1961 by George Hall, the company has become a high quality Maine brand. If you have a commercial or residential need for a John Deere piece of equipment, chances are you have shopped at Hall Implement Company. And how about this for brand longevity, Hall Implement Co. has been selling the John Deere brand longer than the legendary John Deere lawn mowers have been manufactured (1963). 

  Halls brand does so many things right, from the location’s eye-catching meticulous landscape, to the impressive quality product display, to its outstanding customer service. In your business, if you are thinking about things like presentation value, product display or building a top notch service reputation, there is much that can be learned from how Hall Implement Company does its business.

 Heck, I even think there is much to be learned from how a brand can use a word like “Implement," given it understates the wide array of products sold. Additionally, implement, as a noun, is a word that has become much less main stream in Mainers' daily vocabulary. 

 Maybe the true uniqueness in the Hall Implement Company brand is that it has stayed true to its heritage. While some might argue the brand could insert a more comprehensive word, no one can argue with the Hall Implement Company's success. The moral with this brand, is that as times change and words fall out of favor, a uniquely worded brand can still hold top-of-mind awareness with consumers. Because of what it offers and what it stands for. George, Donnie, Steve, Beth, Derek and Lindsey get that. I hope you do too, and that you will “implement” uniqueness into your special brand.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Snowed under




By Kaile Warren

If you have not already signed a contract for snow plowing services, chances are you are a procrastinator. Typically, August and September are good months to get your plowing needs under contract. Having said that, there is timeless advice related to hiring a contractor that I would like to share. The snow plowing industry is one of the least regulated industries a homeowner will deal with. Yet, the collateral damage that an unreliable plowing contractor can cause ranges from frustrating, to life-or-death situations.

Most people believe that there are only a few items that need to be hashed out with the plow company (i.e., time of plowing, snow depth of each plow, where to push snow, insurance and driveway markers). While these are worthy considerations, I would like to share other issues that you should work out with your plowing contractor.

Do not be afraid to question your plowing contractor about his or her skills.  If you have a gravel driveway, ask the plow operator what he or she does differently when plowing a gravel surface, as opposed to an asphalt surface. The plow operator should tell you they lower the plow shoes when plowing gravel surfaces, so that the plow does not remove the surface. If the operator does not know this, chances are you will experience collateral damage to your driveway at some point. Ask the plowing contractor if they are current on their snow plow truck payments. This may seem a bit personal, but you would be surprised at how often plow trucks are repossessed, leaving the client in a real bind. Work out specific terms related to any needed snow removal. No one likes surprises, and if a home owner/plowing contractor's relationship is going to be challenged, it usually comes from a snow removal need. 

There is a lot to consider when hiring a plowing contractor. Unfortunately, far too little effort goes into interviewing and working out a solid contract. Most plow operators try to do a good job. However, do not hesitate to set your demands, ask the tough questions and shop around.