David Roberts of Roberts Architects / Roberts Construction of Evanston, Ill. describes in a Daily5remodel.com posting how his remodeling business spins off incredible amounts of referral business with a simple letter hand delivered to neighbours of significant projects at the beginning of each job.
We don’t hard-sell the neighborhood with our introductory letter. Instead, we simply introduce ourselves, set expectations for the construction activities ahead, express our concern for the neighborhood and our clients, ask to be contacted with any questions and concerns, and we leave the door open for inquiries about our services.
How many neighbors do we contact? That all depends on the geography of the neighborhood, but we usually reach out to between 15 and 20 homes.
What type of projects qualify for these notices? Any project where we will have a presence for more than a few days or any serious outside activity.
In one recent neighbourhood, Roberts tracked $1,168,000 in business from immediate neighbours of a renovation project — not counting out-of-neighbourhood referrals. The actual letter he uses is available on daily5remodel’s premium site (for which you need to pay a modest subscription fee.)
Of course, the letter, itself, is not the reason this approach works so well — the actual job itself must proceed with the care and respect for the homeowner and neighbours to justify the positive word-of-mouth and recommendations. (I can’t imagine even the slickest neighbourhood marketing piece working well when your crews perform shoddy work and your initial client is dissatisfied. In fact, in that situation, you would almost hope that your neighbours never knew you were in the area.)
Instead, he writes:
Delivering letters and talking the talk is easy. But actually walking the walk takes a much deeper commitment and a sincere desire to be good neighbors and site stewards. I truly believe that living and following a sincere good neighbor policy makes or breaks our ability to meet this commitment.
We require that every player on our team understands and lives this neighborly approach on and off the construction site, and that takes training and the occasional refresher course when needed. Our trade/subcontractors actually sign a yearly agreement with us that includes behavior and appropriate activities in and around the project sites.
I wish I had a nickel for every time someone has mentioned how neat and clean our sites are as compared to the usual suspects, and how appreciative our clients are regarding how we have managed to fit comfortably in the neighborhood during a project.
How much will this approach cost you. Well, if you want to exact letter, you can pay the daily5remodel.com fee — but the real “cost” is in making sure that once you draw attention to your project, you live up to (and go beyond) everyone’s expectations. This is brilliant, sustainable and frugal marketing at its best.