The "Process" And Brand Harmony

 
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Old 12-30-2007, 10:14 PM   #1
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The "Process" And Brand Harmony


(I checked in advance and cleared with Nathan the backlink in this posting).

Sonny Lykos, a semi-retired contractor in Florida, has shared with me over the past several months much material on marketing and sales, with an emphasis on branding; and more specifically "brand harmony". This is the concept that your integrated business practices can create a distinct brand, allowing you to escape commodity pricing and 'low bid wins the job." Advertising and promotion are just a small part of the picture here -- the idea is to create such a strong reputation that potential clients phone you, and trust you so much that they simply accept your price/proposal and don't question it with a search for low bids. (I think you can see what this would do for your profitability).

One of his key resources is "The Process" a document that he sent to prospective clients after the initial inquiry, but before the first meeting to discuss significant renovation projects. The document sets out the issues and challenges in renovation/construction work and educates prospective clients that there is no such thing as a 'free estimate' -- you will have to pay for a full-scale design proposal. (Of course, the contractor might assess a ball-park estimate on the phone to ensure that the prospective client has a realistic budget for the work involved, before going to the "process" stage.)

Sonny's legacy is apparent in the operation of several thriving contractors who in fact reference The Process on their websites.

He has granted me permission to make it available to others (as Nathan has granted me permission to publish this backlink to my Blog, from where you can download the document.)

http://constructionmarketingideas.bl...2/process.html

This follow-up posting adds to the information in the first reference:

http://constructionmarketingideas.bl...process-2.html
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Old 12-30-2007, 10:27 PM   #2
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Re: The "Process" And Brand Harmony


I'd be really interested to know what percentage of customers you both think actually read that entire thing. While I know there are certain customers who absolutely will read that document word for word, I am just as certain that the majority will not. Just based on the belief that there are 3 types of ways that people communicate and 2/3 of them will not even begin to fit into the benefits of the "process".

That said, there is certainly benefit to having a "process" I also believe that Sonny may be a bit mislead in how much the "Process" is effecting his success for signed contracts versus what I suspect his personality, age, reputation and referrals are doing for him.

I think it's great and there is a great concept there, and I thank you for the link to view it, but I don't see it as much more than a tool that is helping land a certain type of customer and not something to base a businesses sales or marketing effort around.

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Old 12-30-2007, 10:45 PM   #3
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Re: The "Process" And Brand Harmony


I've been reading through your blog off and on over the last few months since you started posting here. Eventually we plan on taking Rocky Mountain Bathrooms on to be a national brand and if you are available for consulting hire I'd like to know, as we may have some use for your services.

You mission statement section of your blog is timely in that after reading "Good to Great" I recently composed our mission statement. I'd be interested in your comments good or bad.

http://www.rockymountainbathrooms.com/employment.htm
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Old 12-30-2007, 11:52 PM   #4
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Re: The "Process" And Brand Harmony


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Finley View Post
That said, there is certainly benefit to having a "process" I also believe that Sonny may be a bit mislead in how much the "Process" is effecting his success for signed contracts versus what I suspect his personality, age, reputation and referrals are doing for him.

I think it's great and there is a great concept there, and I thank you for the link to view it, but I don't see it as much more than a tool that is helping land a certain type of customer and not something to base a businesses sales or marketing effort around.
But Sonny is doing what should be done by every businessman, approaching his client as an equal that deserves value for their dollar. How can this be bad for business?

I think you're putting too much emphasis on what can be measured easily, Mike. Metrics have their place in business, but so does honesty and integrity. By making these the core values of his business, Sonny is telling potential client's that they should expect to be treated fairly and honestly and he sets the bar for that treatment in writing.

Look at your own website. Are you really doing things that differently than Sonny? You don't have names for it, or his 35 years in the business. You advertise, but still, are you really that much different in your core business practices? I sure don't see it if you are.

As for landing a certain type of client, it seems to me that his clientèle are the ones we'd all like to chase. The ones we don't have to spend thousands of dollars on advertising for. The ones that don't buy on price, but rather look for the value brought to the table.

I feel like I'm preaching to the choir here.
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Old 12-31-2007, 05:28 AM   #5
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Re: The "Process" And Brand Harmony


Mike and Double-A, thanks for your observations and follow-up postings.
What I like about Sonny Lykos' The Process is that it systematizes the client/contractor relationship in a manner that addresses the entire process, right from the start. This helps the contractor in the pre-qualification stage (you don't want to go out and complete estimates etc. for someone who is just bid shopping). Yet because it gives a lot of information -- stuff that the uninitiated might not realize; or it corrects commonly believed misconceptions -- it induces trust and shared responsibility for the work; and of course, you are not wasting time on tire-kickers but committed clients ready to do business with you.
Sonny has develped a much simpler form/documentation for smaller projects where it is unreasonable to request a design fee, and notably some contractors using his process model still offer "free estimates" initially -- but these are ball-park things done over the phone, again simply to qualify the client and (also from the prospective client's fairness), to give the prospective customer a reasonable idea of the range in which they are working.
I had thought about posting this entry in areas of this forum dedicated to business processes and systems rather than marketing, but that defeats the intent behind Sonny's message (for which I concur totallly): That marketing just starts at the beginning of the proejct, but is really defined and successsfully completed when you and the clients are both truly connected by the end -- to the point that you want to do business with the client again, and the client enthusiastically recommends/endorses you to friends and colleagues. Then, of course, you have hit the sweet spot in business where you can charge a fair price and spend only a modest amount on new client development/outward advertising.
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Old 12-31-2007, 11:56 AM   #6
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Re: The "Process" And Brand Harmony


Long version/short version.....

It doesn't matter.

What you have done byproviding more details aforehand, is to psychologically guide the consumer into the mindset of what should be necessary components of a "True Professionals" detailed proposal.

They do not need to read the 5-7 page manuscript in its entirety.

I have a very detailed roofing proposal, which is 6-7 pages of analysis of problems and proper suggested solutions, then condensed down to a summary options page plus the contract page and general conditions page.

Do people read through the entire proposal? I would like them to, but that is rarely the case. By presenting the extent of the details in a well written document I am allowed to be considered the most knowledgeable rrofing contractor providing the specifications and proposal. That may not be what some HO's are looking for, but at least, I have set myself on top of the pinnacle of the hundreds of other contractors to choose from.

Along with Sonnys Process, is his SCA, which stands for Scope And Cost Analysis. At that time, their is a commitment made by the consumer for the entire detailed proposal. So, I try the "Light" version of this, since the initial perception of roofing is, "Its Just A Roof" and anyone will be doing the same thing.

Hopefully, with the usage of my pre-positioning package, delivered eitherwhen they first make contact or upon my show up to do the estimate, I have eliminated many other contractors from consideration.

Sonnys current maket niche is condominium associations, but his model has been proven to work with other potential clients in mind quite successfully by other remodeling contractors too.

Don't shun this tool from usage as part of your marketing and branding philosophy. It works.

Ed
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:35 PM   #7
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Re: The "Process" And Brand Harmony


Sonny also sent me "The Process" a while back and I have been using a
a version of it for my pool renovations. It does seem to weed our some of the "bid takers", and it makes clients see that renovating a pool is much more complicated than they first thought.

Sonny also just came up with a "Shorty" version of "The Process" that he was kind enough to send me. I plan to use it for my repair department.

Good stuff, and Sonny is a great guy, always eager to offer his wisdom. You can learn a lot from the work smarter, not harder guys.
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Old 12-31-2007, 07:16 PM   #8
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Re: The "Process" And Brand Harmony


Guys, I created The Process one day after getting very frustrated of having to meet with several people who were bottom feeders, had no idea of what went into developing a detailed Proposal - the time and experience - or the time we spent with each of them. These people just didn't care. As far as they were concern, hiring a contractors was the same as buying a refrigeration. They did not now the tremendous differences between each contractor and how he would prefer to approach the project, much less the potential customer.

So in decided to create The Process initially to be used as a qualifier. It took many, many drafts before it became a qualifier, an educator, and a document that addressed any project from both the contractors and the home owners view point

The Process is not for everyone. It's perhaps, not for someone just starting out. It's not for someone who only wants to "make a living." It's not for someone who doesn't mind having a customer tell him to figure out an estimate - at no charge - for the 2-3 ways the scope of the project was discussed -. And it's not for those who run their business with a tradesmen mentality instead of with a business owner mentality.

It is for those who realize and respect their own time. For those who have many incoming calls for new sales. For those who have branded themselves. And for those who want to orchestrate the sales and renovation process instead of having their customer do so. And The Process is for those who know the market they want to serve, and the caliber of customer with whom they want to work. Not every "coupling" is a good one. Not every personality or character will mesh. Remember, we're not selling widgets from a factory, or selling TVs from a retail store. We must take our manpower, equipment, and materials to their home. Their home then becomes our "factory", and obviously under much less than an ideal environment from a real factory. And you then, are the "plant manager."

So again I say The Process is not for everyone. It's only for those who want to control all aspects of the relationship and project, which of course they must if it's to be built correctly. And for those who want to spend less time making more money - the #1 goal of any business regardless of it's industry.

Since we started using it before I sold my business to my sons in 1999, Tom has already completed third projects for old customers, and the second for many of them. In fact, he's completed over 50 remodeling projects in one high rise condo. So The Process is also part of the Branding process. But the "branding" process is a complete separate story.

I no longer do large projects, specializing in condo repairs (about 70% of sales) and private repairs and very small remodels under $5K. Some of my condo projects go up to $10K, So the "Shorty" serves my needs. New customers are tactfully advised I'm not cheap since I only do things correctly, and that process determine the cost, not some predetermine price by them that is picked out of the air. Consequently, my sales closing rate is about 95% regardless if it's for a condo or private party.

Mark mentioned the book "Brand Harmony", a correct concept that virtually every aspect of your business must be aligned with your "branding" process. That means everyone, your own staff, subs, vendors - everyone.
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Old 01-01-2008, 05:18 PM   #9
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Re: The "Process" And Brand Harmony


I've heard about Sonny's "Process" for about a year now and have finally read it. It makes a lot of sense to separate yourself as a professional from the very start if you want to find good clients.

Obviously this is written for his particular market and situation, but it's a good example of how to go introduce yourself as one of the best.

Thanks Sonny!

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