In the Floor Academy episode: “Identifying Your Target Market: Do You Know Your Ideal Client Avatar,” guest, Paul Luccia, who recently retired as Owner of Cabot and Rowe, a company specializing in bathroom remodels, explained how to build lasting relationships with ideal clients, get referrals, and more, but most importantly, how to enjoy what you do every day.
Luccia’s ideal customer was someone looking for a dream bathroom who would select high-end materials and pay for a high-quality installation.
Over the years, Luccia learned how to identify prospects like this, and as a result, his business flourished. He charged premium rates for his area, which enabled him to take his time and do a great job for customers who really appreciated his work.
Kyle Hedin, host of The Floor Academy Podcast, asked, “How do you know, before you bid on a project, whether the prospects are your ideal clients? How do you tell the difference between someone who is willing to pay for quality work versus someone who is just trying to keep up with the Joneses? They see all the value in the materials and not in the installer.”
Throughout the episode, Luccia unpacked the answers to these and other questions, providing valuable insights for contractors who are struggling to establish themselves with their ideal clientele. Most of Luccia’s suggestions do not cost anything to implement.
Visit higher end tile shops and designers monthly.
He also recommends bringing your kids. “They love when children come in… It’s also a good way to get your kids to know, hey, this is what Dad does for a living. …This is where your food comes from.”
The monthly discussions are not necessarily always about work. “I get to know their families,” Luccia said. “At the end of the year, I like to present these big gift baskets… not as a bribe to get more work, but because I truly enjoy working with these people on a professional basis.”
Make it a point to regularly spend time with those who can connect you with your ideal clients.
Paul Luccia says to look for "pride of place."
One way to know whether prospects are your ideal clients is what Luccia calls “pride of place.” It is the concept that people who care about their home and possessions will be more likely to recognize the value a skilled installer delivers.
“When I show up at somebody’s house,” Luccia said, ” I know how well the house is kept. …Is there pride of place?” One might imagine Luccia was talking about how grand or expensive a home is, but he made sure listeners understood that this was not a concept with a dollar value attached. “You can be rich or poor and still have pride of place.”
Luccia rang a lot of doorbells and turned down a lot of work at first, but in time, he started meeting those customers who were willing to pay well for a job well done. Ironically, these are the same people who are more likely to respond to requests for referrals.
Ask for referrals.
Go back to the people who recognize your value and ask them if they know anyone else who needs work. You must verbally encourage your existing customers to refer you.
“Personally, it’s not an insult to my professionalism for me to call up a customer and say, ‘Hey, you’re one of the favorite people I’ve ever liked working for. Do you have any friends who want some work done?’ …You’d be surprised. That’s when the floodgates open.”
Luccia warned, “People will always refer you to people like themselves. If they pay well, if they treat you nicely… or they’re just horrible to work for… You know, it works both ways. Don’t ask for referrals from people you don’t like.”
Let them know you care.
Luccia recommends getting to know prospects as people before jumping into details about the project. You might ask them how they like living in the neighborhood, pay attention to their dog, notice the artwork on the walls or their kids’ artwork on the refrigerator.
Making “that human connection,” Luccia said, is not “a sales tactic.” He stresses that this connection must be genuine. Really care. Don’t fake it. People will know.
Luccia made a habit of sending cards once a year to past clients. He handwrote the names of the family and pets and personalized messages in each card.
Participate in online home repair forums.
- Expanding your knowledge
- Developing the ability to provide concise, accurate answers
- Learning how to talk to customers on their level without talking down to them
- Understanding and building trust with your target audience
Demonstrate your value.
“As a business owner, you should be able to come up with ten or twenty reasons why you’re better than the competition,” Luccia said. When you create this list of reasons, don’t mention your competition, and demonstrate your value without talking about money.”
“It’s hard to come up with it in the beginning until you realize all those little things you do,” Luccia said. It could be something as simple as using taking five minutes to Swiffer the floor before you leave or teaching employees good phone etiquette. “Those little things become ‘the culture of your business.'”
Enjoy what you do every day.
When it comes to running a successful business, Luccia explained, “The passion needs to be there. …You’re going to really need to enjoy what you’re doing. So, you need to find ways to make that happen.”
According to Luccia, visiting higher end tile shops and designers monthly, looking for “pride of place,” asking for referrals, letting people know you care, participating in online home repair forums, and demonstrating your value — are all practices that can make it possible for you “to enjoy what you do every day.”
These days Paul Luccia is running Built With Foam, a custom foam business for remodeling contractors, and putting his years of experience to good use making quality products for tile installers.