Marketing mini-makeovers

Is the economic outlook improving? It’s tough to say. Because the outlook is clouded, many homeowners are unwilling or unable to undertake major remodeling projects. Yet, the desire for home improvements remains. For plumbing contractors, this creates an opportunity to offer mini-makeovers.

What’s a mini-makeover?

A mini-makeover involves replacing only the plumbing aspects of a kitchen or bath. The tile’s not touched. Counters aren’t replaced. Cabinets are left as is. Only the brass and/or porcelain are replaced. While not a complete update, a few small changes can significantly improve the appearance of a room for a fraction of the cost of a complete remodeling project.

The bathroom

Replacing the tub or shower pushes this beyond the “mini” in a mini-makeover. However, everything else is up for grabs. Replace the toilet with a high-performance, low-flow or dual-flush model. If the homeowners are middle age or older, consider a higher toilet (e.g., 30 inches).

Depending upon the impact to the floor, replacing a pedestal sink can change the entire room. If the sink is a drop-in, there are still a variety of upgrades. Look at copper, pewter, stone or glass. Look at drop-ins with patterns or designs etched in. Also, consider the installation of under-sink lighting for glass basins for a dramatic effect.

A change in the basin or pedestal may suggest the brass. The focus is the sink faucet, of course. However, don’t overlook the handles and coordinating the toilet hardware, towel bars and toilet paper dispenser. Something as simple as a pivot arm toilet dispenser can sell the entire job because it solves a nagging problem for the decision maker (i.e., the woman who has been unable to get her family to replace the toilet paper roll).

Don’t forget the showerhead. A rain showerhead can make a dramatic change. A variety of designer handheld spray showers can give you another leg up by offering something unavailable at the big boxes.

The kitchen

Similar to the bathroom mini-makeover, the kitchen mini-makeover involves upgrading the basin and the brass. While not part of the typical plumbing company’s offering, considered adding the replacement of cabinet hardware to the mix. This gives you the opportunity to coordinate the hardware with the plumbing brass.

Portfolio

If you have past project on file, create a photographic portfolio of your work. Ideally, you will have before and after pictures. For products you haven’t sold yet, get manufacturer pictures to incorporate into your portfolio. This because a key part of the sales process, since you can show it to the homeowner on their ground.

As you discuss the possibilities, use visual imagery. Hold a picture of a faucet near the sink and say things like, “Imagine this pull out spray faucet on your sink. I think it would look great, don’t you?”

Showroom

Touching the products is much better than looking at pictures. Some plumbing contractors have showrooms where you can invite homeowners to come and examine products. Others will have to rely on a supply house showroom. If that’s you, coordinate a time with the supply house when you can bring the customer over and have a variety of products to browse. Even better, see if the supply house will let you borrow products to take to the homeowner.

Invest in a few big box products made with internal plastics that feel cheap compared to products made for the trade channel. After the homeowner’s held a quality product, let them compare the big box products for themselves.

Marketing

Homeowners have no concept of the pricing. Create a base mini-makeover that may only include brass replacements for a bathroom or brass and cabinet hardware for a kitchen. Market this by direct mail to your customers as mini-makeovers, starting from X amount of dollars. Or better, estimate the minimum credit card payment (typically, this is 3% of the outstanding balance) and promote the payment.

Put fliers together for your plumbers to hand to homeowners at the start or completion of service calls (hint: staple them to the invoice). Send out pictures via Facebook, your website, Pinterest, Twitter and e-mail.

This isn’t hard. People are looking for affordable ways to make home improvements in an uncertain economic environment. The mini-makeover fits the bill.

Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable, which provides contractors with a vast array of downloadable sales, marketing, and business management tools, 24/7/365 online peer support, and cash rebates for parts and supplies. For more information call 877.262.3341 and ask for a free tour.

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