By Jennifer Sherrill, Kitchen Design Concepts
When I ventured into the world of remodeling almost 14 years ago (as a profession and not just GC’ing large additions/remodels on my own homes), I was coming from a background in Management Consulting with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte Consulting. In consulting, it was important to be certified in the technologies and methods being utilized to solve client’s issues. It gave you a leg up against other consultants that were doing the same thing, but didn’t have any formal training or certification. So naturally, once I dove into design and construction, I went looking for ways to differentiate our company. My search was for a certifying organization, that also had education as an important aspect of their mission. Of course, I found NARI and immediately joined. NARI not only had a strong certification program, they offered a family of fellow contractors I could lean on to help me navigate my new world. NARI also offered a vendor community I could utilize for products needed on my projects. And importantly, a rich education component.
The first certification I targeted was Certified Remodeler (CR). Wow, not only did I learn a ton, but I made friends with folks I have stayed in touch with over the years. As soon as I earned the CR designation we added the logo to our website and crafted some verbiage to use in our sales pitch. The sales team asks potential customers if they know about NARI and if they don’t they educate them. The sales team will then tell them the owner is a Certified Remodeler and only XX people in our geographic area have this designation. And for the “woman power” thing we throw in the very low number of women that have the designation in our metroplex.
Explaining to potential customers what NARI is all about and that we are members helps them understand we are not one of those “fly by night” companies that may not be here tomorrow. Telling them about our folks that are certified helps people understand our dedication to learning and conveys our commitment to our industry. One statement that really seems to resonate with people is when my business partner tells folks that a contractor with a CR is akin to an accountant with a CPA. That makes a big statement and seems to resonate with them.
A couple years after receiving my CR I earned my CKBR. Since we are primarily Kitchen and Bath remodelers we have designers on staff that have NKBA certifications, but I wanted to get NARI’s CKBR because it showed we know the “construction” component of a kitchen or bath remodel. I really enjoyed the study guide for this course and sometimes refer to it during projects. Finally, I just learned today that my application for Master Certified Remodeler (MCR) has been approved and I am now a MCR! Of course, we’ll use social media, press release and other tools to get this word out. And, refine our messaging to ensure clients understand the eminence this brings to me, and our firm.