Pay Structure, Inclusivity, Appreciation, Flexibility
It has been called the Great Resignation. It is a movement that started in the spring of 2021 to the present where employees voluntarily leave their jobs “for a better/more well-balanced life” so to speak. The new trend? #QuitTok. Employees use Tik Tok to publicly resign from their jobs. While on an individual level it could be a good decision, for employers, it has been a nightmare. According to a report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the U.S. economy is still short over 4 million jobs as of January 2022.
Headlines across the United States continue to highlight the shortage of labor and the consequences of forced shutdowns. Some of our clients have felt this same pressure and asked for guidance from NAPCO. We’re listening.
Here are a few ideas to attract and keep hard-working, loyal employees:
1. Pay structure. Minimum wage can be hard to swallow for some employees, especially when you are asking them to work with chemicals. One way some of our clients work is to pay employees on a commission basis. For each job completed, the employee gets 10% commission from the total project cost. This pay structure can be a game changer because it motivates employees to take on more jobs and also do it right the first time. If they have to go back a second time, they receive no more pay for his/her time. This incentivizes them to do the best they can the first time around.
2. Company culture. As we’ve seen over the last year and a half, we need to be better prepared for the unknown. If you have a company culture where everyone feels valued, then you will be less likely to “lose” employees during times of uncertainty. Here are a few ideas to consider when building your company culture:
a. Part of the Bigger Picture. When employees know who and what the company stands for, it is easier to be a part of it. You can do something as simple as a vision and mission statement, and then educate employees on what those statements mean and what you want your company to be remembered by. By being inclusive, employees feel like they are part of the bigger picture and understand how their work helps support it. They feel more like a family.
b. Appreciation. Everyone wants to feel valued. If you are a company that can make that happen, then you will have less challenges retaining employees. Here are a few ideas for showing appreciation to employees on an individually level or as a group. Give a shout out for an employee of the month via email and a $25 gift card. Ask managers to write an email to their teams once a month congratulating them on a job well done. For groups, getting together once a quarter outside of the work environment can be highly beneficial. Some ideas include: a holiday party, employee BBQ or team lunch, escape room, early dismissal to go play a round of mini putt. Be creative. It doesn’t have to be expensive; it just needs to show authentic gratitude to your employees.
c. Flexibility. Figure out where you can give employees more flexibility, while still maintaining clear expectations of when and how they should be available. During the interview process, find out what is most important to them, maybe it is being home by 5p.m. to eat with family or having a day off mid-week. Whatever it is, try to build boundaries for what you need to do to run a business while still giving employees a little flexibility.
In one of our most recent blogs entitled, “Kitchen and Bath Refinishing Demand at All-Time High,” we uncovered the dramatic increase in the working-from-home lifestyle. According to Pew Research, 71% of people are currently still working from home. Because of this, many homeowners are looking to invest in their homes and in larger projects, such as remodeling kitchens and baths. The issue? There is a shortage of raw materials to make this happen. According to a recent NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) survey, a majority of builders reported a shortage in cabinets, ceramic tiles, plumbing fixtures and fittings, and more than 90% reported a shortage in plywood, oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood.
The solution? Refinishing! Refinishing provides an alternative remodeling method to help satisfy homeowners’ needs without the time, hassle and mess that comes along with a full remodel. While we could stop there because this leads to a lot of opportunity for refinishers, there is still one other issue for homeowners and refinishers alike–pricing. The price of raw materials has also spiked dramatically. So, how do you market the refinishing business nowadays and how do you consider the price increase?
How to Combat Increase in Materials or Supplies
While increase in demand is a great problem to have, what has not been addressed is the rise in pricing of raw materials, such as steel, aluminum, plastic, paper, and chemicals. Due to global supply shortages, transportation delays, and freight costs that have tripled in the last year on most building materials. Homeowners will need to be educated on these rising costs and refinishers may need to add in additional costs for product. Refinishers also need to account for longer turnaround time to receive their product, ensure extra product is on hand, and make homeowners aware of potential delays, especially with the holidays upon us. While NAPCO has done its best to keep prices the same and innovate in order to find other solutions to products that are hard to come by these days, prices look like they will continue to increase. To combat the price of raw materials, take a look at your pricing structure and profitability to determine if you should raise your prices. We also have a blog on tips to know when it’s time to raise your prices.
Alternative to Remodeling is Refinishing
If you’re a builder, painter or other general contractor, you don’t have to pass on remodeling jobs—you just need to speak to homeowners about using refinishing as an alternative. If you want to increase your knowledge about refinishing—hone your skills, learn about new products - check out the 3-day trainings from NAPCO on professional refinishing. Refinishing provides an alternative remodeling method to help satisfy homeowners’ needs. Expanding your skills and services to include bathroom and kitchen refinishing is an excellent way to continuously provide options to homeowners so they can improve their surroundings, without worrying about material shortages.
What does this mean for NAPCO customers?
No single event has had such an impact on society in the last two decades as the COVID-19 pandemic – it has forever changed the way people live and work. For those of us in the kitchen and bath refinishing business, the most important change we are seeing (in terms of our client load) is the transition to more permanent or semi-permanent working-at-home lifestyles, making demand for kitchen and bath refinishing at an all-time high.
Although the pandemic hit many refinishers hard in the beginning, the future is brighter than ever. This was a key finding of the most recently released Q1 2021 Kitchen and Bath Market Index (KBMI), showing that the kitchen and bath refinishing industry went from one that was contracting due to decreased demand to one that is now not just thriving, but thriving at an unprecedented rate.
The KBMI is a quarterly report issued by the National Kitchen & Bath Association in partnership with research and consulting firm John Burns Real Estate Consulting. This report is designed to uncover the current strength and positioning of the kitchen and bath industry by looking at consumer trends. The report also uses data to forecast the most anticipated challenges and expectations for the upcoming months.
And what do these findings mean for NAPCO refinishers? The demand for kitchen and bathroom refinishing is out there now more than ever. NAPCO recommends that refinishers do the following to ensure clients can find you and you’re working as efficiently as possible as a small business.
1. Is it time to raise your prices? It’s a tough conversation to have, but important especially in times like today when labor costs and price of raw matierals are rising.
2. Convert your hard leads into sales. Spend the time now focusing on your hard leads before going after the soft leads while demand is high.
3. Work smarter, not harder. Leverage NAPCO reserouces available to you and think of ways you can make quicker sales, like having a portfolio available to show off your work to clients on the spot.
4. Continue to build your social media presence so clients can find you without you having to look for them!
5. Make sure your business pages are updated. Pages like Yelp make it easy for clients to find you and learn about your services.
6. Think about expanding your services if you’re only taking on bathroom refinishing jobs. Customers are spending money in the kitchen right now and it’s an easy sell if you’re already in a client’s house for a bathroom job.
The KBMI report went on to highlight a number of anticipated trends for the rest of 2021. The biggest takeaway trend being that homeowners are going to continue investing in larger projects to make their homes more comfortable for permanent work-from-home lifestyles. This means the demand for kitchen and bathroom refinishing projects will most likely continue to increase throughout 2021.
Check out some of our previous blogs for more information on marketing and sales strategies to make sure you stay prepared for the increased demand.
2020 reminded us that life -- including business life -- is all about adapting. And while the COVID-19 pandemic was undoubtedly the most impactful thing to have happened in many Americans' lifetimes, it is another life event that must be adapted to. Today, the most successful businesses are those that best understood this importance. Businesses and entrepreneurs, including kitchen and bath refinishers, who saw the pandemic as something of a teaching experience and were able to learn and adapt, ultimately came out in better shape. The following is a look at a few of what we see as the most important lessons from the pandemic refinishers and entrepreneurs should consider for a thriving business.
Key Lessons From the Pandemic for Small Businesses & Entrepreneurs
1. Knowing how and when to delegate tasks to other employees. Operating a small business means that you have to wear a lot of hats, and it is understandable to feel responsible for every single aspect of your business. But it isn't possible to wear every hat effectively. The pandemic's craziness with its shifting regulations, safety advisements, tax breaks, and many more has meant that there are even more things that businesses have to be aware of and tasks that have to be completed to stay ahead. The lesson here is that being more open to delegating tasks to knowledgeable employees leaves more room for you to focus on running a successful company.
2. Take inventory of your products. Although this should be done on an ongoing basis, we learned from the pandemic that it's a good idea to have more than enough product on hand so when deliveries are pushed and shipping delays arise, you are more than ready for it. Don't put yourself in a position not to be able to take on a client's job just because you don't have the necessary product onhand.
3. Review marketing strategies. We have written extensively about this in previous blogs, but it bears emphasizing again. You have to keep your messaging up-to-date with global events. In addition, staying up-to-date with your target audience and knowing who your customers are and how you get them will allow you to continue to effectively communicate with prospective clients even during global crises. Understanding what's important to them, for example, knowing your safety precautions ahead of time could make or break their commitment.
4. Review safety protocols to look for ways to increase safety. With the pandemic, we’ve learned that people are being safer now and see the importance of preventing disease spread, such as keeping high-touch surfaces clean and paying more attention to overall cleanliness, something refinishers were already implementing before as standard protocol. Even once COVID-19 is gone, refinishers should keep up many of the same disease-limiting safety protocols as the new standard to keep employees and customers safer from viruses like the flu. Including your daily safety etiquettes in all of your marketing eases any concerns that customers may have and may make them feel more comfortable committing right off the bat.
5. Review processes to improve efficiency. A significant change office workers saw throughout the pandemic was the increase of remote work, which reduced many companies' operating expenses. For refinishers, you might also consider using a remote worker to field calls or complete data working, or you might look at other processes such as ordering that could be streamlined to save costs.
6. Review customer-centric practices. In our previous blogs, we stressed the importance of why the idea of "HOME" should be the emphasis in your marketing due to how the pandemic has changed the very meaning of our homes. Likewise, you should look at all of your other customer-centric practices and consider changing what gets emphasized and what can be cut for being no longer relevant post-pandemic. In addition, consider what's most important to your customers and make sure you are providing that information ahead of time. For example, is having before and after photos of related work going to land you the job sooner? Always take the time to evaluate how you can stay in the field of vision of all your current and future clients.
7. Demonstrate consistency. With so many things changing, customers and employees want consistency now more than ever. Be that consistent boss and consistent refinisher for all your clients. Implement new technologies and processes where needed and make sure your business projects a someone you can trust attitude in everything you do.
8. Monitor gross profit margin and profitability more than once a year. Don't wait for tax season to check your profitability. Start doing this at least every season so you can ensure maximum profitability. Use this in tandem with the aforementioned delegation tip to prevent feeling overwhelmed by the excess work.
Successful businesses need to learn how to adapt and survive in all situations. The essentials of a successful business don't entirely change during global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the ability to remain flexible and adhere to all situations will allow the same businesses to thrive during these challenging times.
Small business owners are always looking for ways to operate in a smoother and more streamlined fashion. It’s all about working smarter and not harder to maximize efficiency and increase profit margins. Over the past few months, we’ve heard from many of our refinishers – some are thriving and have found creative ways to engage with new customers. Others need some support and are looking for advice on shortening their sales cycle and ways to close deals faster.
We take our customer requests seriously. While many services trade on the idea of, “you get what you pay for…” refinishing is one service that delivers way beyond expectation and certainly exceeds what you might expect for the price. So, our team came up with several ways that NAPCO can help you work smarter as we head into 2021.
- Show off your work to clients and show them what the finished product will look like with a portfolio. Some refinishers are carrying a tablet with them on sales calls. With this option, you can ditch the traditional portfolio and create a folder of images you can flip through with potential clients. A tablet is an optimal way to show larger images and still stay socially distanced when you are on the go or talking to clients at their homes. Want to stay more traditional? A hard-bound printed portfolio containing high-quality, professionally printed photos is a great way for customers to visualize your work. Plus, you get to brag a little on your jobs with beautiful photos of past transformations.
- Don’t make customers do the guesswork. If you create a photo album of images, create a fact sheet for each project. Outline the project mission – “Refinish cabinets from avocado green to clean white.” Show them clearly which image is the “before” and which is the “after” shot. Let them know the square footage, the name, and category of the refinishing material, “Kohler snow-white, high-gloss finish.” Identify how much time was required to complete the job and a customer testimonial singing your praises!
- Leverage NAPCO resources! We have many before and after images, as well as marketing brochures for you to use. If you’re in need of marketing materials, please call us directly to speak to the Marketing department to gain access to NAPCO’s portal. The images illustrate high-quality work and impressive finished products. These before and after photos would make a great temporary addition to your portfolio while you build it up with your own photos. Note that NAPCO provides these images to refinishers just starting out, however it is not recommended to keep these photos in your long-term portfolio as they are shared with other NAPCO refinishers. In addition to photos, NAPCO also offers color swatches of all the basic neutral colors, found here. Carrying color chips is an easy way for the homeowner to see the exact color to be better equipped to make a quicker decision on the spot. Similarly to shopping for paint at their hardware store and getting samples, this allows you to offer a more professional presentation and greater variety for your customer.
- Next, document your own work on the job. Ask your client for permission ahead of time and take photos of the project before you start and after you finish. Building your own work portfolio is a rewarding way to show your experience and offer your customers a visual comparison to the work they are requesting. Be sure you’re taking high-quality photos that you can include in your physicial or digital portfolio. This includes cleaning your area, making sure it’s bright enough, and that you have the same angle for both the before and after photo.
Overall, remember the proof is in the pudding! The best way to close a sale is to show the homeowner what the finished product will look like. If you have a website for your business, be sure to also add before and after images to the site. Additionally, share these images on social media and ask your customers for reviews. If they are willing to give you a review, they will also probably tell their friends about your work! Word of mouth is powerful, and all it takes is a simple ask.
If you score an in-person meeting with your prospective customer, bringing a sample of the finished product will lend itself to a higher close rate. This might be in the form of our NAPCO color swatches, your own image portfolio (printed or digital), NAPCO’s before and after marketing materials, or an actual cabinet door front that has been completely refinished. You can be as creative as you want to be with your presentation materials. The key is to stay safe, demonstrate your professionalism and work smarter, not harder to make your business more successful.
Two years ago, NAPCO challenged its product development team to think beyond the bathroom. We saw a way for NAPCO’s refinishing products to have an even greater positive impact in peoples’ homes by formulating a product designed for kitchens. And to help our customers and new refinishers venture into the kitchen with us, we expanded our training program to include kitchen refinishing, prepping trainees for both bathrooms and kitchen upon completing their certification.
So what’s holding you back if you haven’t started refinishing kitchens? Stuck just refinishing bathtubs and wondering how you can boost your business volume? Kitchen cabinet and countertop refinishing can look difficult, but we have found that refinishers who take our training course and practice taping hinges, can easily transition from bathroom refinishing into the kitchen with the potential to triple their incomee. Here’s why:
KITCHEN REFINISHING PAYS 3 X MORE THAN BATHROOMS
Kitchen refinishing jobs allow refinishers to make 3x the amount currently made on one bathroom job. Since kitchen refinishing uses the same equipment, tools, and application techniques as bathtub refinishing, there is no need to invest in anything new to get started. On average, refinishers can make $2,000 on one kitchen job versus working on four to six individual bathroom jobs.
BUST THE CABINET MYTH
Many bathroom refinishers avoid the kitchen because of how long they think cabinet refinishing takes. Using traditional methods, taking off doors and masking can take anywhere from three to five days. NAPCO’s class teaches refinishers how to tape and mask a single hinge in under two minutes. This technique allows refinishers to get to work fast and finish an entire project in one or two days depending upon the size of the kitchen and number of cabinets.
YOU ALREADY HAVE LEADS
The beautiful thing about adding kitchen refinishing to your business is that you already have a long list of warm leads. Everyone who has a bathroom that you refinished also has a kitchen. A phone call, postcard mailing and an email campaign may be all you need to start booking kitchen refinishing jobs.
During the pandemic, many refinishers are trying to find ways to bring their businesses back to 100% revenue and what better way to do that than to add kitchen cabinets and countertops to your skillset! Already a certified refinisher? We encourage you to get into the kitchen to continue growing your business NOW! If you need a refresher course, NAPCO’s Kitchen Class will be perfect for you. If you are ready to get started, give us a call. Class sizes are extremely limited as a health precaution. Talk to us about your training needs and interest in kitchen refinishing to get started now! Let NAPCO help you over the “refinish line” toward your career goals! Call 800-888-1081 or click here.
Given the uncertainty many reﬁnishers face today, NAPCO has developed a 5-week broadcasting conference series FREE to ALL REFINISHERS, that explores practical measures to consider implementing during and after the pandemic. Throughout the series we will include an explanation of ﬁnancial planning, lead generation, developing a strategic marketing plan, and other proactive suggestions intended to help reﬁnishers overcome business challenges and position themselves for continued growth. The conference runs from May 13 at 5:00pm CST and continues weekly every Wednesday through June 10.
What challenges are you facing? How are you running your business during this time, what changes have you made? Do you have questions about how to keep the cash rolling in and wondering what new strategies you should take, or just curious about what other refinishers are doing; now is the perfect opportunity to learn and share with each another. During each session you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. For more information on our weekly webinars, or to sign up today, visit https://www.napcoltd.com/online-conference.
We encourage refinishers to come join in on the conversation with industry experts at NAPCO to understand ways to continue growing your business during a pandemic. ALL refinishers welcome - We are ALL in this together!
Everybody daydreams about being their own boss, creating their own schedule and taking vacations whenever they want. Another primary motivation to throw your hat in the ring and launch your own business is to put your hard-earned income into your own pocket and not somebody else’s. Sound good to you?
NAPCO is passionate to help you turn that daydream into the reality of owning and running your own business or improving and upgrading your own existing business. We can help you strengthen your skills so you can start and/or expand your own refinishing business and become your own boss, creating the life you’ve always wanted.
If you’re not a current refinisher, we can teach you how to become an expert in both kitchen and bathroom refinishing with our 3-day hands-on training course. On the other hand, if you’re already a refinisher, we can help position you and your business so you can hire more people to increase the number of jobs and earn even more income. Trained refinishers have the potential to make an easy $100,000 or more per year. If you add one or two more employees, you could increase your annual income to $250,000 or more per year. Can you feel that warm ocean breeze on your face, a cold drink in your hand and your toes in the sand yet?
We know most refinishers look forward to being their own bosses so they can make their own schedule, work hours, and vacations, all while being able to provide jobs to others, spend more time with family and friends, and attend to tasks that don’t usually fit into a regular business day. When you become a NAPCO trained refinisher, all those aspirations are within reach.
Talk to NAPCO about upping your refinishing skills so you can reap the benefits of being your own boss, all while increasing your yearly income and keeping more of your earnings. Take your business to the next level and create the life you want, NAPCO will help get you there – call us at 800-888-1081, so we can help you over the “refinish line”!
There’s good news and there’s bad news.
The bad news is that according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, remodeling spending is expected to slow down considerably by the end of 2019.
Specifically, they project that renovation and repair spending in the U.S. will shrink from 7.5 percent in 2018 to 5.1 percent in 2019. This is due to a variety of factors, including flat home sales activity, rising mortgage interest rates and slowing house price appreciation rates, which cause owners’ interest in making major investments in home improvements to decrease.
The good news is that home improvement and repair spending is still set to reach more than $350 billion this year, and the even better news is that as a refinishing business, there are things you can do to remain profitable and busy even during a remodeling slowdown.
How To Keep Your Refinishing Business Busy
1. Diversify your services. If you want to appeal to more customers, you’re going to have to make them an offer they can’t refuse, and that starts with offering them a variety of services. If you currently only refinish bathtubs and bathrooms, consider adding kitchen refinishing to your business to boost income. After all, one bathtub refinishing customer will be set for the next decade or so!
Keep in mind that customer will remember your good work and will likely hire you again when they learn that you offer new services like countertop or kitchen refinishing. This strategy allows you to appeal to past customers, and also add new customers looking for reliable refinishing.
2. Re-engage past customers and prospects. If someone has already used your services, they’re more likely to hire you again when their next refinishing need arises. Call on former customers to let them know that you have added new refinishing services to your business and how you can help meet their needs.
Don’t forget about contacts that entered your sales process at some point in time but didn’t hire your company for the job, for whatever reason. Now is the time to routinely follow up with them, even if you didn’t get the sale. Maybe they didn’t move forward for their own reasons, but now they’re looking to hire for that job again. Maybe they went with someone else initially but ended up unsatisfied with the results.
The goal is to engage with customers who were previously in the sales pipeline — either as a paying job or a prospect — and show them the value and expanded services you bring to the table.
3. Optimize your marketing efforts. Now is the time to step up your marketing efforts, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Start by making sure your website is clean and professional and showcases all the services you offer, as well as customer reviews and important contact information.
Next, add your business to Google My Business, Yelp for Business and Bing Places, which helps your business rank better in the local refinishers search results. And finally, don’t forget about the effectiveness of a local newspaper ad, direct mail and advertising wraps on your company vehicle. This is an easy and effective way to get your name out to prospective customers.
The Bottom Line
Just because a remodeling slowdown is predicted doesn’t mean you can’t still have a thriving refinishing business. Follow the tips above, provide exceptional service and you can remain busy — and profitable — throughout the year.
If you would like further advice on how to expand your refinishing business, get in touch with our customer service team at 800-888-1081. We’d be happy to talk to you about growth strategies and share our training manual with you!
Confused about the housing market and what it means to your business? You’re not the only one! Interest rates are low, but so is inventory in the affordable housing sector. The numbers are up and down depending upon where you live and the housing category. According to the National Association of Realtors’ Index, May marks the 17th straight month of annual declines. So, what does this mean for the remodeling industry? It’s hard to say. After home remodeling spending hit a record high of nearly $425 billion in 2017, annual gains are projected to slow in more than half of the nation’s largest housing markets in 2019, according to a report from the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.
With supplies of timber, aluminum, and steel being impacted by existing tariffs, and a shortage of skilled laborers, the refinishing industry may have a unique opportunity to grab what would have been full remodeling jobs. Refinishers use existing materials and coatings to make dramatic improvements to bathrooms and kitchens. By educating homeowners about this option, the price tag of a bathroom remodel can drop from $8,000.00 - $12,000.00 to a mere $1,500.00. Homeowners don’t have to wait to make improvements until they are ready to put their house on the market (which is when most remodeling activity occurs). The homeowner can upgrade their space and enjoy it as they live there. The improvements made will still yield an increase in value over the expense.
With all this trepidation and confusion in the housing market, refinishers have an exciting opportunity to expand their skills and fill a labor market gap. Robert Dietz, the chief economist with the National Association of Home Builders, said in a recent interview that “Most individual remodelers will say they’re busy and schedules are full because they don’t have enough help.” Building additional refinishing skills of your own and with your staff could give you a leg up to expand work with both existing and new clients.
Many of NAPCO's long-time bathtub refinishing customers have signed on for the new kitchen refinishing training program. Once these refinishers learn the cabinet taping technique and the methods for applying the Kitchen Renew waterborne coatings, they have been able to deliver both bathroom and kitchen refinishing jobs successfully. The best part about expanding refinishing skills to include kitchens is the jump in job pricing. A kitchen refinishing job can be very profitable, and a great additional revenue stream for your business.
For more information on NAPCO’s kitchen refinishing training program and/or its kitchen and bathroom refinishing training program, visit our website.