With new remodeling companies constantly entering the market, remodelers need to find a way to make their business stand out.
This is exactly what Ted Nemeth of ReVisions Remodeling, Ltd. has done by honing his approach to business and marketing. Rather than trying to be the 'Jack of all trades' remodeler, Ted has found success by focusing on becoming an expert in a specific category (Exterior remodeling) and a few specific brands (James Hardie Siding, ThermaTrue Doors, Andersen Windows). By doing so, Ted and the staff at ReVisions have become skilled and knowledgeable enough to offer both an outstanding service and position themselves as a resource for people considering exterior remolding projects.
Tune in for this episode of the PME 360 Powering Business Growth Show, as Ron Rodi, Jr and Ryan Paul Adams interview Ted and explore practical, actionable marketing tips for those in the remodeling and home building industries.
"By focusing into a niche market and by focusing on specific products in that niche market and becoming experts, I think that's what we do really well, and we're able to educate customers as a result."
-Ted Nemeth, CEO of ReVisions Remodeling, Ltd.
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Focusing on a Niche Market in Remodeling with Ted Nemeth
Ron: Good morning!
Welcome to the PME360 Powering Business Growth Show, where each session we discuss proven ways with our industry experts to help power growth for your remodeling business.
Our guests have proven themselves within their niche and are the experts and leaders in their space. Please listen in as our guests and experts provide practical tips that you can immediately apply to help power growth for your small to mid-sized local remodeling business.
I’m your host Ron Rodi, Jr.
Joining me today is the incomparable Ryan Paul Adams. As the founder and CEO of PME360, Ryan and his team helped power growth online for small to mid-sized local businesses with the focus on the home remodeling and improvement space.
PME360 provides effective, affordable, easy to understand, complete marketing systems that help power growth for your business and do it quickly.
Ryan has developed several companies online and off, and has helped generate millions in revenue for local businesses over the past 8 years. Entrepreneur, author, founder, family man of 2 (soon to be 3), Mr. Ryan Paul Adams.
Ryan, good morning!
Ryan: Hey Ron! Thank you. Good morning!
Ron: Also very excited to have with us today, founder and CEO of ReVisions Remodeling, Ted Nemeth.
It is possible to say that Ted started building when he was just 12 years old. In the 6th grade, Ted remodeled his parent’s entire basement with framing, paneling, wiring and a dropped ceiling.
There were a couple of learning moments along the way. But for the most part, his project was a solo effort.
For Ted, the building bug continued on up to college when he took a position in Linworth Lumber Company – a division of the Strait & Lamp Group.
During his time at Linworth, Ted had the opportunity to learn various aspects of the business from the best builders and remodelers in Central Ohio. Pairing that with education form numerous national suppliers and organizations such as the BIA (Building Industry Associates of Central Ohio), NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), Andersen Windows, Eagle Windows, Dixie Pacific, James Hardie and Therma Tru just to name a few, Ted found the right time to move into business for himself in 2006.
In September of that year, ReVisions Remodeling was formed through a partnership with Dan Stout. Today, Ted serves as the CEO of ReVisions Remodeling and is instrumental in plotting the direction and shaping its future to be an exemplary model of customer service and value in the remodeling industry.
It is my pleasure to introduce our close friend, Mr. Ted Nemeth.
Ted, good morning! How are you?
Ted: Good morning!
Ryan: Good morning Ted!
Ted: Good morning Ryan! Good morning Ron!
Ron: Thank you for joining us. That’s a great story, the remodeling of the basement when you were just 12 years old.
Ryan: Yeah, love it.
Ted: I don’t know what my parents were thinking to be honest.
Ryan: That’s how you learn. That’s how you get it.
Ron: At what point did they realize you were down there remodeling the basement?
Ted: I think they knew what was going on because they actively participated buying the circular saws, nails and so forth.
But they might have wondered what was going on when we blew a circuit down in the basement.
That was one of the learning moments when we brought in the electrician. But well, it was an interesting experience and it was something I’ve always wanted to do and I think I begged long enough and they finally relented and gave in.
Ron: That’s fantastic! It’s actually a nice story about hearing people know exactly what they wanted to do at an early age in life.
You get a lot of people that don’t quite know what they want to do. So, we really appreciate having you with us today.
Ted, tell us a little bit about the business, about your role and position. I know we talked about it a little bit about it in the intro. But I’d like to hear it from you. Tell us a little bit more about Revisions.
Ted: Well, Revisions Remodeling is a full service remodeling company. And what that really means is we’ve done everything from the basic simple kitchen, bath remodels, window and door replacements, additions on houses. We really go to the builder area of remodeling.
But more recently, we have decided that our strengths are really on the outside of the house.
And so we are taking a much stronger focus on exterior renovations to homes. So trying, not necessarily to do additions and so forth, but rather window replacements, siding replacements, door replacements, that sort.
We are trying really to focus the company on a niche segment of the remodeling market.
Ron: In the name of course of business remodeling and a lot of other businesses have a lot of general contracting field.
They try to be all things to all people. It sounds like you’ve really created an exterior replacement niche and that’s really your focus. Is that correct?
Ted: Yeah it is.
It is hard in these economic times to turn down jobs that are not focused on the exteriors. But we’ve really found that it’s where we excel and that’s where we can bring a tremendous amount of value to our clients and our customers.
We are not abandoning the ReVisions Remodeling name which is more of a general name but we definitely take a distinct exterior focus when we are marketing and talking to homeowners.
Ron: So outside of that niche, what do you feel that you do really well that differentiates you to competitors?
Ted: Instead of taking a shotgun approach to exteriors where we offer a whole catalogue of different siding products, and a whole catalogue of different windows and so forth.
And being a jack of all trades, we really narrowed ourselves down and we selected just 1 or 2 brands in each of the different exterior components as far as the sidings and the windows go.
Ryan: That’s really smart.
Ted: And what that has allowed us to do is be experts in those individual products. And by being experts in it, we are effectively educating our customers. We’re moving away from selling and we’re actually educating.
And so that has a way of breaking down barriers with homeowners when we’re in there having a conversation with them about the products and about the strengths.
And honestly, sometimes about the weakness. When we’re having that conversation in that level and it becomes an educational component, it really helps with the sale.
We are no longer talking about price but we’re talking about quality and meeting the customer’s need.
So there’s an educational component and there’s also a listening component to that sale.
That’s really by focusing into the niche market and also by focusing on specific products on that niche market, we are becoming experts.
I think that’s what we really do well – we educate.
We also keep our ears open for what’s going on the market. So we understand the overall market and we understand the competitor’s product out there as well.
And what’s going on with that. That’s a very well rounded education component we offer.
Ron: And you’re really specializing on what it is you do install. These are some of the brands you carry: Andersen Windows, James Hardie fiber cement siding, Therma Tru doors.
And I’m sure, you can become an expert at the installation of those particular building product, manufacturer product, right?
Ted: Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely! We are a James Hardie Associate Contractor.
So not every contractor out there has that distinction. It offers us opportunities for education, installation education, project product education support.
I’d like to think that we know as much about the James Hardie products as our Sales Rep of James Hardie to us knows about the product.
I know that is true about Andersen Windows. Andersen will oftentimes, when we’re out in service operations, particularly complicated service operations, I’ll be out there with the Service Rep (Regional Service Rep from the company) and he’ll be asking me questions. We’ll be banging back and forth trying to figure out how things are working. So we’ve got a unique field application knowledge on these products as well.
And that’s what you get when you get product specific and product focused.
Ryan: What I found Ted is that sales is all about conviction. If you have that conviction, it resonates.
Your prospects can pick up on that. It becomes really hard to have that conviction when you’re a jack of all trades and you represent every product line out there.
When you get to the point where you’re really focused and you’ve decided, “Look I believe in this product”, it comes across in your sales process.
Now you can really speak to it, you can speak to the benefits, the features, the guarantees, the warranties, everything that goes along with that.
You become the experts. And your prospects see that.
And the guys and girls that tend to be more general and haven’t thought about it aren’t going to be able to compete with somebody like you when you go ahead and go through your sales process.
It’s really an educational process. You are able to spitfire all of those benefits. You know it very, very well. I think that’s important for people to understand.
When we talk about the focus, a lot of it is going to help in your sales process too and it will allow you to have that conviction.
Ted: Absolutely! This may not be the best example because Walmart is the leading national retailer. However, when you go into this Walmart store, you get all these different products and nobody really knows anything about what they’re selling.
They’re going in there, walking through there. They have features and benefits. But Walmart’s biggest thing is low prices.
Ron: Exactly, exactly!
Ted: I hate Walmart. I have to be honest. Walmart drives me crazy. So, those aren’t my customers.
My customers are looking for features and benefits. They’re looking for value. And they’re looking for a company that can help educate them on products.
And help educate them on what’s going with their house. Help educate them and guide them in decisions that they’re making.
We’re really trying to move the conversation away from price and we’re talking about features, benefits and value. When you go out there, you build a relationship.
Ron: You touched a good point.
It’s a major decision. These are major projects that you’re building for someone in their home.
And it’s not everyday that they decide to replace their siding. And they want to talk to an expert. You don’t want to talk to a generalist because as Ryan said that a generalist isn’t going to be as focused.
And to take that point a little bit further, your role a lot of it is sales and marketing. Now if you’re looking into bringing in additional sales people, it’s going to be a lot easier to bring in a sales person and tell them, “Look your focus is going to be on the exterior instead of focusing on kitchens and bath, basements, drywall and painting, right?”
So it’s also being able to make a lot easier for people who come under you.
Ted: Oh yeah, absolutely!
It’s much more teachable. When we have a focus, you can set a plan.
One of the hardest things that I have, that I personally struggle with is setting a plan and sticking to it. I can tell you it has become tremendously easier to set a plan and stick to it when we started to focus on the products that we were offering.
When you are all over the place, it becomes very difficult. There are so many things you should know about or you’re just not good at it.
Ryan: Mistakes are starting to happen and customers aren’t happy. And you’re mad at your people who’s doing the work because they didn’t do it right.
But at the end of the day, if they’re failing, it really comes back to ownership. The reason that they’re failing is that there aren’t processes in place and the business model is too complicated.
When you run into complication, remodeling is an extremely complicated business in itself. And people make it way more complicated than it needs to be.
And having that focus allows you the ultimate goal which is stepping out of the way and being able to let that thing run by itself and your people can run and do the work that they are supposed to be doing without constantly being in the middle of it.
That only comes with focus and knowing a couple of product lines and then going after it, and attacking that market.
Ron: We’ve done recent interviews with some other experts. Not only does it create chaos, it also affects the bottom line, right?
So if you’re used to doing a siding project, you know exactly how to run it. You know exactly how to run a window job and doors. Then all of a sudden, you get a major kitchen remodel. You may not know exactly the hidden costs that lie there. So it can really affect the bottom line.
And it is a good point too, Ted. Sometimes, it’s hard not to take on especially with a down economy. But at the end of the day, do you feel like those jobs will end up costing you more?
Ted: Yeah, I do. I call the interior jobs my heroine.
Ryan: Yeah! It’s just so hard to say no.
Ron: You’ve been addicted since age 12.
Ted: I know. I try to get sober from it. Things are slipping a little bit. You’re looking at the bottom line. I need a little lift me up right now. But in the end, you take them.
And for us, “Oh man! Why did we do that again?”
Honestly, we’re getting a lot better at not doing that. In the end, business is business. You need that bottom line to keep things rolling.
But our focus is on exteriors. We don’t spend a penny towards marketing the interiors. And we are very careful, very careful about taking on those jobs at this point.
I would say, by the end of winter, this coming winter of 2013, 2014, we’ll be done with interiors.
If there will be interiors for ReVisions Remodeling again, then it will be set up in an entirely different division.
It will be run the same way that the exteriors are run. The only thing they’ll have in common is the master name, but they will be run as separate companies.
Ron: Very good, Ted. A little bit of a segue. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned while in the business?
Ted: That’s a challenge. I’d say, well, there are two.
One, the biggest lesson I personally learned in a personal level, owning a business, you experience the highest highs and the lowest lows.
Your successes– you’ve done it with your hands, you’ve done it with your own brain, you’ve put everything together. It’s just incredible.
But when it blows up, you’ve also done that. That’s the biggest lesson that I’ve learned. Going to business myself, I’m thinking this is going to be great, I’m going to own my own business. This is going to be incredible.
It’s a challenge. It’s going to be really, really hard. But it’s rewarding at the same time.
So I’d say the second biggest lesson in the business itself is that you’ve got to step back from the business every once in a while. Disengage yourself from working in it.
And you’ve got to work on your business. That has been probably one of my hardest things to do. I understand it in theory and when I put it into practice, it works tremendously well. But it is very difficult.
Ron: …to put it into practice.
Ted: Yes, it’s very difficult to put into practice. Practically, for small businesses but it’s important to work on the business. You’ve got to step away from the day to day and look at where you are going and plot.
Look at where you’ve been. Look at where you’re going…and you’ve got to work on the business. That’s the biggest lesson that I’ve learned. When I execute that, things go a lot smoother.
Ryan: Because you are reinvesting on your assets that’s what you are doing. Anytime you can do that, things really start to take shape and you’re really starting to put together a real business.
I talk to a lot of people. I ask theM, “Do you have one day a week that you can shut everything off and focus on your marketing, your sales process on your production?
And I think that’s really, really important for most remodeling business – any remodeling business.
You’ve got to take one day a week. You’ve got to. You don’t have a choice. The fires will always be there. You can find all the reasons in the world to continue to put out those fires and continue to be in the middle of everything. But you really have to focus and shut things off one day a week.
And say, “Look this is important to the business. This is important to my life. So I can get a break someday. I’ve got to do this.”
Ted: Yes, absolutely!
Ron: That’s a lot easier said than done. But I think it’s crucial. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day. From a sales standpoint, I can always tell this story as it happens to me a lot.
Three days out of the office create just a world of hurt when you get back in.
So having that consistency in being able to say, “You know what, NO! I’m going focus today. Today is the day that I’m going to…”
I know it’s hard to turn down that customer, that you are looking to trying to land, but it’s important. You’ve got to try to focus and have that process.
Ted: Yes, absolutely!
It’s especially important if you are making a migration from generalist to niche because if you don’t step back and look at things.
We made a commitment to become niche 2 years ago. We still struggle with that and it’s in the moments that we step back and look at what we’re doing and we re-focus ourselves that’s when we get back on track, heading towards the right direction.
Yeah, that’s vitally important to the business, particularly if you are moving into the niche.
Ron: In believing in those products. You guys install a great product. You do great work in just believing in that, by staying in that.
We’re coming into the end of the show and it’s been some good stuff so far.
What keeps you going each day?
People are asked that question a lot of times and I get a lot of different answers but what is the reason why you can’t fail?
Ted: It’s my family.
I think, probably people would think it’s very cliché. But honestly, it’s my kids and my wife, they are the most important part of my life.
And even when I’m always from them for extended periods of time sometimes for business, travels, so forth.
I know everything I’m doing, it’s for me but it’s also for my family. I hope that someday, my kids decide that they’d like to join me in my business. That is why I do what I do like the sacrifices that I make running a small business.
There are a lot of sacrifices. I know that I’ll get it to the point where the business is running and I’m making adjustments to it and I don’t have much time involved in my business as I do right now.
But there is a sacrifice involved with it right now. Obviously, I’ve got young kids. One’s coming up on 2 and the other one is going to 7.
It’s something I’m working quickly so that I end up not spending so much time in the business and I’m losing my family time.
With what I do, there’s a part that satisfies my ego but really, a big portion of it is for my family.
Ron: As we’ve talked about some of the topics today, it’s really, how do you get there faster, more efficient and more effectively.
And going back to the old ways of that generalist mentality, it helps you focus when you got your family in the fold. And you’re really doing it for them.
It’s going to help you stay on course, to not go back to those old ways.
Ted: It actually helps, to be honest with you. It helps making the hard decisions. Because I think I’m making these decisions not just for me, not just for the business but I’m making these decisions for my family in the future.
Ryan: And you can keep things small. You could make difficult decisions but you clearly have that growth mentality and we can tell that from the first conversation we had.
You wanted more.
And identifying “why did I want more, why do I need more, why do I need to grow” – that is important.
Taking a look at growing is not easy. It isn’t easy, you’ll run into a lot of obstacles, a lot of challenges.
I give you all the credit in the world for wanting that. That’s the first step. Just wanting to grow and wanting more. There’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s what we do as business people. I think we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the people counting on us to keep driving the thing forward, to keep pushing the envelope, and keep going.
Ron: When you get to get over the mentality of people thinking they don’t deserve it, that’s BS to me.
If you work hard, set out to do a dream, you have a goal then go after it.
Ted: I deserve it! I can tell you I deserve it. I don’t have any problems saying that. I find personal satisfaction in giving back to the community. But definitely, I deserve success.
Ron: That’s awesome. Ted, any advice?
Anything that jumps out of you that you’d like to share to some of the business owners listening in?
Ted: I guess, getting back to the conversations we had earlier, I find that focusing your business is really the way to success.
At least, I believe it is for us. In the end, determination is going to get you your results.
Quality matters. Be true to what you’re doing. Be true to yourself. Take care of those people around you. That’s the advice.
Ron: I think that echoes throughout the entire topic here today.
Ted, is there anything we haven’t talked about. Is there anything that you want to get across?
I think we’ve covered a great solution set here. But one thing I know we talked a bit I the past is that quality matters.
Be the best at what you do. And I really feel that you are one of the most honest and individual full of integrity that I’ve met.
I think it’s really doing business with people you know, like and trust. That’s one of my favorite philosophies. You echo that sentiment?
Ted: Oh yeah. Absolutely!
Ryan: That even leads to people that you choose to take on as clients. Not everyone who calls you up or submits a webform really needs to be a client of yours.
You really have to take them to a process. Make sure you’re asking the right questions. So you don’t end up with another nightmare on your plate. Because you are hiring and interviewing them as much as much as they’re hiring and interviewing you.
You really have to make sure you choose the right clients and customers for your business. I think a lot of people make that mistake and ends up burning them out.
Ted: From that end, it’s going to be some advice. I could feel very comfortable extending which is be selective with your customers.
You’ve got red flags going up. If you are feeling uncomfortable about something, don’t rush into the deal. And that’s especially difficult when you change your model from where the owner is out selling to when you got a salesman selling working on commission.
But it’s important to know who your customers are. Even do a little background research on them and understanding what kind of person you are dealing with just because you have integrity and you’re going after and approaching the business the proper way you’re willing to do what it takes to make things right particularly when you get a little bit off-course. That doesn’t mean though that your customers are going to hold the same sentiments.
Ted: We ran into one just a couple of months ago and it was just a nightmare. We’ve been very fortunate that we don’t run into those customers very often but I know from talking with a lot of my friends in the business that they seem to run into them all the time.
Ron: Out of curiosity, what type of project? Was that more of a general project, was that outside the niche?
Maybe you don’t want to get too specific…
Ted: It was exterior replacement. It was a couple. I believe they had a plan from day 1. I wasn’t involved in the sales process of the job.
It was one of my salesman. As we got into it, we broke a couple of our rules. They were insistent that we signed the contract on Tuesday and start production on Thursday.
Ryan: There were all these warning signs.
Ted: Like reading it, every chapter in the book of how to avoid bad customers we did it all.
It was just one of the situations wherein that moment I was working too much inside the business and not on the business.
I was not able to have that holistic view of what’s going on this particular customer before we signed the contract.
And now that we’re in the contract, it’s just too late. We put the ink on the paper, we are going to live it up to the end of the deal even if our customers don’t live up to the end of their deal. Those are the situations we get into and it was rough.
I can honestly say we’re on the back side of it. That customer still would like to say that they are not satisfied.
However, I know that that project is absolutely impeccable.
And the only reason they are saying what they are saying is because they had a plan going into this. They didn’t want to pay going into them.
And it wasn’t a big project, that’s the worst part about it. It was a very, very small project.
Ron: But it can drain you and shake your foundation. It can really to start to make you question what your existence really is.
Ted: Absolutely! It was a $2500 project that probably cost me $40000 because of the additional time involved in satisfying the client and in lost opportunities because we were working on satisfying this client.
Ron: Wow! What could have you done now that you have a post-job review or a de-brief and it sounds like you’re on the back side of it.
Outside of stepping more holistically and taking an overview approach, what else could you have done?
What else can you identify there…it’s something that we can make as a topic for our next podcast together.
Ted: It’s something we could get into a little more. But honestly Ron in 5 minutes, I did a simple Google search, turned off a couple of things: understanding the type business that they were involved in. There were a number of red flags and frankly just, we broke some of our barriers. We have firewall that we set up in our sales process.
Ryan: You changed your process for one person.
Ted: Exactly. And we allowed our process to be changed for one person because there was a bigger thing for us to get.
Ron: If I had a nickel for every time I heard that.
Ryan: Ron and I can speak of this. Many times when we give this advice to people, it’s because we live this. We had to give up a $175000 in recurring revenue for 2 clients who abused us.
It was just awful. We were killing it for him. It was just absolutely dominating but every single meeting was a dog fight.
They were out to fight. And they were out for blood every time.
It has come to a point where you’ve really got to know your clients. You have to look at them as your friends. And if you can’t look at them like that, you’ve got to make some tough choices. We’ve had to make those and it was not easy. But it makes your life better when you work for the people that you really enjoy.
My goal is for every customer at the end of the project, we would want to feel comfortable inviting in our house to have dinner.
We would expect they’re going to be comfortable enough with us to invite us into the house for dinner.
Ryan: And sometimes, if there are something’s that off and it doesn’t feel right, pay attention to that. Your gut tells you a lot.
Process is good but there are some intangible things there that you need to pay attention to the warning signs that are usually there.
Ron: Ted, how can people get a hold of you? To learn more about what your company is and what you offer.
Ted: Well, the best way probably to get a hold of me is through email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The office number is 614-5071121.
Either one of these is a good way: website, email address and telephone.
Ron: I know they can go to revisionsremodeling.net and you are servicing the Columbus, Ohio and Central Ohio areas so I really appreciate your coming on with us this morning.
We look forward to having you again. We appreciate your insights and your feedback.
Thank you for coming on PME360 Powering Business Growth Show.
Ryan: Thank you Ted! Really appreciate it.
Ted: Thank you.