In launching a new business model based on the long-established pro-dealer formula, The Remodeler's Choice (TRC) wanted its customers to know the company was in no way taking on a one-size-fits-all approach.
When it debuted in August 2006, TRC became what it says is the nation's first traditional dealer dedicated 100% to remodelers. A division of the Fullerton Companies, TRC was founded on the belief that remodelers are a specific portion of the pro market and have needs unmet by the typical lumberyard.
Dave Klun, vice president of sales and marketing, describes the genesis of the Minneapolis-based company's marketing plan as a grassroots endeavor among its executives and employees–all of whom have remodeling experience–and ImagePatrol, a brand marketing firm.
- Robert Bowden Inc. / Better By Design
- The Lumber Yard / Inside Job
- Keim Lumber / Charm's Star Attraction
- Franklin Building Supply
- Interstate & Lakeland Lumber / Best Fit
- The Remodeler's Choice / A Large Slice of Service
- JAY-K Lumber / All Jacked Up
- Truitt and White Lumber / A Clear Winner
- Ridgefield Supply / Access Round the Clock
While planning the launch of TRC, the team devoured a fair number of pizzas and bottled water. Somebody suggested such a meal has universal appeal. Then symbolism came into play, since pizza can be associated with timely deliveries–and remodelers care a lot about timeliness.
The result: the TRC Special Delivery program, based on a foundation of effective, regular communication between TRC and its customers combined with efficient, confirmed deliveries. Promotional components of the program consist of custom TRC-branded pizza-slice containers (sans pizza) and branded water bottles. TRC customer service representatives deliver the items to jobsites along with materials. Klun says customers appreciate useful interaction, which is a far cry from suppliers that provide "ghost deliveries" with little to zero communication between supplier and customer.
"The whole concept of being proactive is, 'let's not wait for the phone to ring, let's ring their phone. Let's not wait for them, let's go to their job-site,' " Klun says.
Building on the pizza motif, each pseudo-slice has a "guiding principle"–eight in all, just like eight slices of pizza in a pie–about the organization, such as "maintain your schedule," "save your energy," and "expand your knowledge." TRC plans to deliver actual pizzas to jobsites once a customer has received all eight of its guiding principles.
TRC staff has been trained to reinforce the principles each time they talk to a customer, strengthening the company's brand while establishing it as the top choice for remodelers. Since TRC was an upstart, some customers might look at the company as a gamble when it comes to big projects and big purchases.
"You have to earn the business," Klun says. "It could be your last delivery, but you better make it the best."
ProSales' Excellence Awards judges liked TRC's grassroots approach, its focus on serving the core remodeler customer, and the professional packaging of its marketing plan. Aside from branded pizza and water, TRC provides customers with folders containing business cards, note pads, and the eight guiding principles, as well as the bios, skill sets, contact information, photos, and personal interests of each TRC sales staff member.
TRC took a grassroots approach as well with its trade magazine advertising, depicting actual regional remodelers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The ads address ethnic and gender diversity within the professional remodeling industry; a red letter "R" joins the black-and-white photos that the ads feature to emphasize the commitment to remodelers.
Although TRC worked with an outside agency, the ideas behind the plan did not fall out of the sky. Klun is no novice to the remodeling game. He was instrumental in launching "The Remod Squad" at Scherer Brothers, the Brooklyn Park, Minn.-based dealer. The Remod Squad designated a sales team that specifically handled remodeler business. In 2005, Klun also served as president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
"You can buy plumbing, electrical, and lighting and go to a wholesaler who specifically talks your language, who understands the concept," says Klun of TRC. "What kills me is, as a carpenter myself, remodeling has never gotten the attention it deserves."
Moving to Fullerton Companies, headquartered in Plymouth, Minn., Klun's philosophy about servicing remodelers was shared by CEO Jeff Howe.
Fullerton's other businesses include Fullerton Building Systems, which provide panelized building components, such as exterior finishes, to more than 40 restaurant chains stretching from California to Maine. Fullerton also operates The Builders Choice, a nine-unit traditional pro dealer chain.
"We believe remodelers are the most underserved, most underidentified market in the construction industry," Howe says. "All of the dealers say they do remodeling, but they do it on the same truck with the same materials and the same salesmen that they service builders with. A builder is trying to do everything it can to be repetitive, and yards are about efficiency and effectiveness in serving them over and over again."
According to Howe, licensed professional remodelers do not want the same thing twice. "They tend to be design-based, and there is much more creative activity involved in their projects," he says.
Examples of how TRC has left behind that type of thinking include its deliveries?90% are same-day jobs handled by smaller vehicles, including pickups. You don't need tractor-trailers to make deliveries in the back streets of a city.
While there are no immediate plans to expand TRC to additional sites, Howe says Fullerton is dedicated to growing the business. TRC is viewed as a hub that can feed off the synergies of Fullerton's traditional yards, including deliveries, while still focusing on its core remodeler customers. As is, TRC is surrounded in every direction with a Builders Choice yard that's within a 45-minute drive.
"We need to address this as a market approach," Howe says. "You have to have efficiencies, and you cannot charge the customer too much for your activities."
- Company: The Remodeler's Choice
- Year Founded: 2006
- Headquarters: Minneapolis
- Number of Locations: 1
- Number of Employees: 28
- 2006 Gross Sales: $3 million (third and fourth quarters only)
- Percentage of Sales to Pros: 90%