Deck Building Trends
Even though many homeowners think of spring and early summer as the premier seasons for building a deck, that’s no reason to let business significantly slow down come chilly weather. It’s our job to educate homeowners about off-season building to help keep business booming throughout the year.
Regardless of the season, the variety of available products and the competitiveness of the market require sharp sales skills. Simply put, if you’re not upselling your customers, you’re missing out on a critical opportunity to grow your business and better serve your clients. Here are several strategies I’ve found to help upsell decking – while prompting homeowners to renovate their outdoor living space later in the year.
Help Homeowners Decide
Let customers know that their dreams of enjoying new decking or railing don’t need to hibernate through another winter. To encourage homeowners to complete their outdoor living project before next spring, provide incentives and emphasize their exclusivity to customers who build in the off-season.
Offer discounts through the chillier slow months to entice new business from homeowners who may be “on the fence” about new railing or decking. Fairer temperatures and dryer weather eliminate much of the risk of unbearable summer heat or spring showers that could potentially delay a project. Underscore the shorter waiting list to get the project started, compared with spring and early summer months. Because you’re most likely juggling fewer projects, be open to discuss with customers the potential to shorten the timeline for deck installation.
Make it Stress-free
Although there’s nothing more relaxing than lounging on a deck, most homeowners can’t say the same for designing their perfect outdoor living space. Help customers take the strain out of creating a personalized backyard by asking questions about their intended uses for the space and offering suggestions so they can begin visualizing their creative choices. It’s easy to put off actual decision-making about big projects – but with guidance from you – the homeowner can feel motivated to tackle their outdoor-living renovation now.
Suggest blogs and social sites to help your customers design their outdoor space. For example, Pinterest and Houzz are two popular online destinations for consumers interested in home improvement projects. Pinterest is full of outdoor living images that homeowners can peruse to help them form a better vision of what they want, while Houzz offers more design-specific ideas about style and the particulars of designing their space. In addition, the blog hosted by Trex® posts tips and photos for outdoor-living inspiration, and can serve as a great resource.
Recommend online tools that assist homeowners in exploring deck design and color options, and encourage them to experiment with the different features and options to select the look and style they prefer for their decks. Designing a deck is a big task, but I’ve found that resources, such as the Trex Visualizer app, help guide homeowners through the process of coordinating decking, railing and trim products to suit their personal tastes and home aesthetics.
Sell Beyond the Deck
Don’t just talk deck boards with your customers. When beginning a project, I always discuss with my clients how the right foundation and accessories are what will really add value and aesthetic to their home.
When it comes to what’s underneath, steel deck framing is a smart investment that allows homeowners to maximize the life and value of their deck, while creating incremental profits for builders. Steel substructures, like Trex Elevations® Steel Deck Framing System, offer an ideal opportunity to upsell because they provide durability, longevity and beauty. However, the substructure of a deck typically isn’t top-of-mind for most homeowners, so it’s up to you, the builder, to present your clients with all the available products and information so they can make the best choice for their backyard and budget.
Homeowners are often more focused above the deck boards, concerned with the design and feel of their outdoor living space. For example, there’s an increased interest in pergolas and walls to define different functional areas and create privacy. Similarly, consumer interest in accessories such as deck lighting, ornamental post caps and decorative balusters also is on the rise.
Given the myriad of options available, this is an area where clients can truly customize their space and let their personality shine – and you can position yourself as an outdoor living expert.
Help Customers Think Long-term
With any customer, cost will be top-of-mind when planning a deck build. Many consumers limit their options due to preconceived notions about the cost of composite decking. A great way to address this concern is by quantifying the long-term value of a composite deck. The cost – and time – required to maintain a traditional wood deck can far exceed the upfront investment in a high-performance composite deck that will last for 25 years. Make sure your clients understand the cumulative expense of power-washing, sanding, staining and painting a wood deck – not to mention the value of all the time they get to spend enjoying the deck rather than working on it. Typically, in five to 10 years, the relative maintenance costs even out.
Today’s wide range of offerings and price points make it easier to convert customers to higher-margin wood alternatives that meet their outdoor living needs.
As construction has been winding down in many places across the country, now’s the opportune time to shine by offering a fully engaged deck planning and building experience. Your clients may have nearly as much fun planning their outdoor living space as they do enjoying the finished product – and you can benefit from increased referrals and profits year-round.
Jay Oliver is a TrexPro and president of Long Island Decking Inc. For more information visit www.lidecking.com.