Earning a certification is a great marketing tool to tout your expertise to your potential clients.
Unlike other professions, remodeling often doesn’t have any requirements for entry, in the way being an attorney or doctor does. Because of these lack of barriers, it’s important for remodelers to stand out from the competition by earning certifications that signify a higher knowledge level and professionalism.
The proper introduction
Downplaying your certification by bringing it up late in the sales process or not at all, instead allowing your Website to do the talking is a missed opportunity. Tom Haines, CR, GCP, UDCP, president of Haines Construction in Richmond, Va., knows a thing or two about NARI certifications and how to use them to his greatest advantage.
“It is definitely part of the sales process,” Haines says. “It’s usually brought up at the point when I am telling clients about myself and my company.” He says this is during the first in-person meeting.
However, with all of the research being conducted online by the client, Haines is confident that this is not the client’s first introduction to his certifications. “I believe they probably saw my certifications in the signature line of my e-mail or on the “About Me” page of my Website during their preliminary research of my company.”
So oftentimes, the client is interested in his certifications and will ask him a question about it.
Haines says the level of detail he provides about his certification is dependent on the client. “I bring it up to everyone, but some people are more talkative than others,” he says. “So I try to read people to determine how far to elaborate about the course content.”
In terms of high-level information that is provided to everyone, Haines hits on each certification he has—including the Certified Remodeler (CR) and Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP)—he describes NARI as a professional trade association and talks about his involvement, and tells them about the process of earning that certification.
“I give them an idea of the time investment that goes into the study group and the six- to eight-hour exam,” he says. “I make it clear it was more than filling out an application.
“I definitely try to explain to them the business management side of my CR certification, and how that is just as important in a remodeler—knowing how to successfully run a business—as it is to knowing how to swing a hammer.”
For the GCP and UDCP certifications, the level of detail about the course is highly dependent on the homeowner and their interests. “If the client has mentioned they would like to use green materials or increase energy efficiency, then I will go more in-depth about my GCP,” he says.
Getting clients to grasp the value
What’s the value of seeing a licensed and board certified medical doctor? For most people, the value is that they will receive better, modernized medical care.
The same is true for remodelers, but it’s less apparent to homeowners that the value of hiring a certified professional directly relates to quality work and experience.
“I think people can quickly get a feel for the professionalism and the competency of someone by talking with them,” Haines says. “But the certification takes things to the next level of credibility and experience to really differentiate me from the competition.”
Haines continues: “A lot of people talk about on-the-job training, which is a good form of learning in this industry, but I make them aware that building is much more complex then people think, and they can’t just assume that everyone who knows how to swing a hammer, knows what they are doing. Quality of remodeling depends on experience and knowledge of new tools and products and building techniques. Continuing education helps me stay current on these things.”
Renewing his certification, Haines feels, demonstrates that he’s in this business for the long-haul. “It validates your commitment to your profession,” he says.
Regardless of the level of detail a potential client wants about his certifications, Haines believes that it influences people’s decisions to hire him over someone else. “All industries change quickly, and people understand the value in earning certifications to embrace changes and stay current,” he says.—Morgan Zenner
NARI’s upcoming classes are Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler (CKBR) prep course, which starts on Sept. 27, and Certified Remodeler Project Manager (CRPM) prep course, which starts Oct. 25.
NARI recently reduced the prices of its certification exam and prep courses, so now’s a good time to check them out.