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Monday, January 19, 2009

The DIY Consultation

This image from Richmond VA roofer Frank Albert shows him at a home owner's site explaining how to manage a do-it-yourself roofing project. Why offer to help homeowners do their own work? The consultancy leads to referrals and leads -- and you are paid for your time.

This thread raises interesting possibilities and questions for residential contractors. The original poster, Silvertree (Paul Lesieur, in St. Paul, Minnesota) observes in the first post:
Clothes make the man!

I don't believe this is entirely true. But I posted back in early December that I got outfitted with new dress clothes. All of them the best. I believe that showing up looking like a page from Esquire helps with the price issue. You look like a million bucks and people know you ain't gonna be the cheapest guy.

On top of that, on my DIY website page I offer remodel consulting for $125.00 an hour. I don't expect that to be my bread and butter, but once again I am not selling myself cheap. I understand that consulting carries some risk so I have a disclaimer, I will help HO's find a solution to a snag in the process, but I will not offer advice on how to do the job, I will inform and steer people to finding the solution, including referring a plumber lets say.

Anyone done this, or thinking of something similar.
The discussions that follow focus less on the clothes than on the idea of providing a consulting service for do-it-yourselvers.

One poster, Frank Albert of Albert's Specialty Roofing in Richmond, VA, introduces his own version of a special DIY consulting site,

Do-it-yourselvers, in this model, pay the licensed contractor for tips, guidance, and reassurance they are on the right track. The trade professional is paid a reasonable professional fee for the consulting (after the homeowner signs a liability release, and pays with credit card or cheque).

Why do this?

Leads, leads, and more leads. The consultation often results in the homeowner deciding that a professional really needs to do the work, and who is best placed to win the business -- you can see how this gets you far away from the 'free estimates' space since the homeowner is actually paying you for your time. Often the homeowner doing work personally who is skilled at the job actually has some friends or colleagues who need a professional, and again, who is likely to get the business? And as the posters in this thread note, you use your off time, your spare blocks, and you can certainly qualify and screen people before seeing them.

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