As the East Coast braces for the brunt of Hurricane Sandy to make landfall, it's not too late for area dealers to take a final walk through their yard to ensure limited material and structural damage. It's also a good time to reach out to remodeling contractor customers to gauge their anticipated post-storm workload. As we batten down our own hatches in ProSales’ hometown of Washington, D.C., here are a few checks to make and scenarios to consider:
In his three-part series on preparing for Hurricane Sandy, Coastal Contractor's Ted Cushman reveals sales opportunities for dealers once the weather clears:
Once the weather passes, established remodelers are going to be busy — too busy. Virginia remodeler Robert Criner says the wave of phone calls was tough to manage. "When I started out answering the phone," he remembers, "I thought I was doing a great job saying 'Listen, we're only going to work for past clients.' Well within 20 minutes, I'm only working with past clients within ten miles. Another 20 minutes, it's within five miles. And by the end of the first couple hours, we were just giving advice to people. Because you just couldn't handle it — it's a volume that is just beyond your control."
But in the wake of a hurricane, advice ... has a value that's hard to estimate, says Criner. "The one thing that is most reassuring to people is a voice on the other end of the phone to give them advice. To tell them what to do, how to dry it out, how to open it up, advice for their insurance company..."
The flood of insurance work can quickly overwhelm a community's local remodelers, says Criner. "What's going to happen is there's going to be a big deluge of damage, and the insurance companies are going to come in there with a thousand adjusters. Every adjuster is going to say 'go out there and get three estimates.' But nobody is there to help the contractors giving the estimates. So it's set up for a poor situation. So you have to kind of pick and choose who you are going to help. And again, you will make the biggest impression if you make sure someone is answering that phone, and someone is there to give advice — even if you can't get there."
Read the full story: “Getting Ready for Sandy: Remembering Isabel: 'In the Aftermath, a Frozen Bottle of Water is Like Gold.” Coastal Connection e-newsletter, Oct. 28, 2012.
As for projects already in progress, Cushman warns that heavy winds and flooding could halt progress and cause damage:
In Bergen County, N.J., remodeler Greg DiBernardo sees a rerun coming of last fall's Hurricane Irene, which brought severe flooding to the state. "A lot of things were undermined, a lot of buildings got unstable," he says. DiBernardo's company has made a move into foundation underpinning with helical piers in recent years, so the storm will probably bring him some opportunity: "Just like high winds bring work to the tree guys, we may pick up a little bit extra because of this."
New Jersey contractor David Festa has been working on a house that may suffer when Sandy hits. The building's story is already long and troubled: when the building inspector noticed an illegal second-story addition, the contractor "just left," says Festa. "He was working with no license, no insurance, and no permits."
The town condemned the structure "because of the weight," says Festa. "It had no foundation at all — just built on gravel on the ground — and this guy was adding a second story." The homeowners moved out, the bank foreclosed, and a new buyer purchased the house at auction, with the understanding that the addition would be torn off and a foundation added. The new owner hired Festa to provide a foundation, repair some framing, and add sheathing; but another contractor hired by the client to side the building hasn't completed the dry-in — and now there's a big, wet hurricane coming.
Read the full story: “Hurricane Sandy: Coastal Connection Special Report." Coastal Connection e-newsletter, Oct. 27, 2012.
Protecting Your Yard, Communicating With Customers
ProSales hit the Internet forums this morning to find a few more dealer-to-dealer tips on dealing with high winds and heavy rains:
We post a sign that states no returns on hurricane supplies. Yes batteries, flashlights, water, and anything "camping" related. - Karen Zeithammer Cheatham, Isles Do it Best, Punta Gorda, Fla.
Send out a quick email reminding customers of the need for hurricane supplies, listing them, and telling of incoming shipments. - Berger True Value Hardware, Hawthorne, N.Y.
Have additional tips? Add them in the comments section below or share them on our LinkedIn page.