“I don't use any installed in my business.”

Ever hear that comment?

“I don't want to compete with my customers.”

Ever say that one?

Even now, as installed sales continues to grow rapidly around the country, urban myths and incorrect, far-out assumptions still abound. Many contractors still don't know what it is—or that they're using it—and many dealers are still too worried about alienating their clients.

A couple weeks ago I ran into a contractor that I knew from my days working with a regional lumber association. The conversation eventually got around to installed sales (imagine that). He told me that his business had changed somewhat and that he was no longer building houses and instead had turned more toward custom remodeling. That's around the time he said that he didn't use any installed services. It sounds fair, right? He's a remodeling contractor/ex-home builder who probably does most of the work himself. Hardly. When I asked him about the specialty installations on his projects, such as who installs the cabinetry in his kitchen remodels, who installs the floor covering, etc., his answer was: “I sub all that out to various suppliers who furnish the material and labor.”

You guessed it, despite his insistence to the contrary, the contractor is deeply involved in installed sales. He further explained that he was primarily a designer, project manager, and a general contractor for his clients and that he didn't have any crews of his own anymore! He had gotten tired of the hassle. Now he subs anything and everything that he can to the “specialists” in that particular field, including for windows, doors, and skylights.

It's unfortunate that many builders and remodelers often make a distinction between buying a turnkey “installed sales” package of materials and labor from a “subcontractor” and their local lumberyards. In this particular case, the contractor said that he is “loyal” to his local yard, but that it doesn't offer any installation services. I wonder what it is that he actually buys from this dealer now. And if the company offered installed sales, or listened to its customers, what more could it be selling with the right marketing approach—one that promotes the dealer as an expert subcontractor?

On the other side of the coin, I hear dealers say, “I don't want to compete with my contractor customers.” I hear this so often it makes me want to scream. One recent big box newsletter I read proudly proclaimed to its contractor customers that it didn't offer installed sales because the store didn't want to take money away from its customers. It didn't want to compete. The newsletter also went on to say that installed sales deprived the contractors using these services of the “freedom of choice.” All I could think was, “Give me a break.” If the installed sales program is introduced, managed, and marketed properly, there should be little chance that a builder/contractor/remodeler can view the service as competition.

Getting past the “competition” myth (and gaining back some business from customers who use turnkey subs but “don't use installed sales”) means realizing—and communicating—the true benefit installed sales provides customers. In our case, primarily installing for our builder customers, we provide a value-added package of services that helps our customers become more competitive, shorten cycle times, and lower operating cost. And at the same time, we provide professional installation of critical components within the structure. We also provide jobsite management and quality control checks for these critical components. Is that competition? I don't think so. And our customers that use the service don't think so, either.