Why you, why now?

January 18, 2010

That’s really the only questions between you and a sale.

If someone is going to buy from you, is it because you’re the cheapest? That’s a hard thing to maintain. There better be a more sustainable reason than that.

If they’re going to buy from you today, is it because you’re in proximity, the closest, the one source that can satisfy the itch they happen to have? It’s a little like being a peanut vendor at the ball game. You need a big crowd and you have to give up a big share of your income in exchange for being in the right place at the right time.

The goal is to create an offering that can answer these two questions. Why from you and why right now…

Most businesses that struggle are unable to answer these two questions in a compelling fashion. They act as though they deserve that sale, or that they need to aggressively close so you’ll buy today, instead of working to build in these very elements to the product itself.

What is the itch that my prospective clients have?

Why You:
One thing that many contractors can do to help with the “why me” is to get better with their skills at design and presentation. One way you can set yourself apart from the competition is to talk is 3D.

I invite you to leave your comments about WHY people buy from you? What is their itch and how can you help scratch it?

PS. Credit for this article goes to Seth Goodin from Seth’s Blog

ChiefExperts Update

January 5, 2010

What sort of things would you like in 2010?

Chief Architect training, Marketing Ideas, Web Sites Optimization, Technology Information, Sales Tactics, etc.

I’m in a unique position to offer you just about anything. Weather I do the training or I ask one of the many qualified experts in the industry to help, I really want to deliver the best possible content.

What sort of software do you need help with? Chief Architect, Chief add-ons, symbols, templates, Quick books, Estimating, or what other things would be on your list of – I want to know how to use that better?

If you could take a moment and respond to this post or send an email to me at dan@chiefexperts.com I know everyone out there would appreciate it.

Dan Baumann

Use this “Quick Quote Spreadsheet” To Estimate Design and Building Costs

October 5, 2009

Designers and Contractors all need to establish a design and building range of costs for each project. One method that is commonly used is the  “Quick Quote” method.

A “Quick Quote” is really nothing more than a guesstimate or swag (scientific wild a** guess) that helps define a scope of work and budget that is used to insure that your client is realistic in what they want to do.

I’ve developed a simple spreadsheet that can be used for this process. It’s simple and quick to use and will help you think through each project and produce a written document that you can work from. It’s not meant to replace your estimating system.

Download the: “Quick Quote” Spreadsheet (Right click and “Save As”)
View the article and video: “Does a Good Remodeling Plan Really Cost Your Client Anything?”
View the recorded webinar: “Top Ten Mistakes Chief Architect Users Make

View the 13 Minute video at ChiefExperts.com about:
How to use the “Quick Quote” spreadsheet

After you’ve had a chance to try it, please leave your comments and suggestions about how it works and what you would do to make it better.

ChiefExperts.com now offering 72 hours of Chief Architect training on DVD

June 2, 2009

In today’s economy it more important than ever to stay on top of your game and staying educated helps. I’ve been busy the last few months learning website techniques and rethinking how my membership site ChiefExperts.com can help.

In the last 2 years I’ve done a lot of online classes about Chief Architect as well as other construction industry topics. The content was growing and I had to find a better way to get it to those that can really use it. So here’s what I did.

The Chief Architect Training DVD

I’ve compiled and loaded 62 topics, 72 hours of training in 967 segments onto a Training DVD. (That’s right one DVD – “Thanks Technology”) and have created a Detailed Search-Able Indexso you can find what you want and get to it quickly. It works great. With that everything is also available online along with a bunch of other topics that I’ll soon start organizing. The DVD and a 3 month membership is only $295.00. You can learn how it all works here.

Free Training and Tutorials

If you’re still using Chief V10 there is over 21 hours of online training available for you. You can access it here for free and you don’t need a membership to view it. In fact the Chief Tips and Ttutorials and Other Tips and Tutorialsare also available for free.

Free Forum for Chief Architect Users

I don’t have any dilusions of trying to out do the ChiefTalk forum. Chief offers a great forum for all users to collaberate. If you haven’t checked it out you should. What I hope happens at the ChiefExperts.com Forum is that we can build a small community of loyal contributors that will share ideas, offer help and just get involved. Together we can help each other do better in our efforts to produce better plans and run a more profitable business. Please join in the conversation.

More Online and Live Classes Coming

In the last 3-1/2 years I’ve only done a couple of live, in-person clases. In fact those were done this year. It was great to be with real live people again. With that in mind I’m planning on offering a couple of in-person classes each month along with many new online classes. I’m still working on the schedule for the rest of 2009 but you can get an idea of what’s going to be available on my New Events Calendar. I’m wide open for feedback on what classes you would like and where you would like the live classes to be held. Let me know.

How can I help?

Like I said earlier we’ve all had to make changes in the way we do things. My goal is to make ChiefExperts.com an open community that everyone csn benefit from. I have the tools to bring many things to the Chief Architect and Design community. Let me know what you need or if you have something to contribute.

Dan Baumann

Understanding How Fear Influences Decision Making

March 25, 2009

Don’t Be Chicken Little

How have you changed the way you are making decisions today compared to when the economy was humming along?

Understanding how business people make decisions is a very complicated topic. There is plenty of subject matter here to write books about, so I am going to narrow our discussion into three areas.

  1. Understanding how fear influences decision making.
  2. How not to allow complacency to creep in.
  3. The Parkinson Principal and how to fight it.

As we have been traveling across the country delivering motivational and functional sales workshops there is a solemn sense of fear in most of the attendee’s faces. There are not too many smiles in the audience these days.

We wish the new seriousness was due to a heightened commitment to running their business right. The reality is that most owners are petrified of the rapidly shrinking construction activity! They are being consumed by – FEAR!

Even if your business is doing well, you can’t ignore the signs that so many others are in distress. Bad news is plastered everywhere! No news outlet has spared us of the gruesome details. Yes, the economy stinks to high heaven.

What is everybody afraid of?

Will they have a job? How they will survive? How they will pay their financial obligations? All legitimate concerns.

But FEAR and its close cousin, panic, will not help you. They hinder sound decision making.

Fear is simply an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. Many an intuitive entrepreneurial contractor who have historically made decisions based on facts have now resorted to inferior analysis and panic-driven decisions that produce poor or disastrous results.

How to offset the doomsday fear and minimize its impact on decision making.

Figure out how your company is going to out-do your competition. Figure out which financial actions will create flexibility now and in the immediate future. Figure out which financial steps will protect yourself against a patch of bad luck without going overboard and shutting off your ability to complete jobs.

For an example of a trap to avoid, contractors will be eager to purchasing equipment because there are some really good deals out there. A classic mistake. Do not increase your fleet unless you have the sales today or in the near term to support the addition of more equipment.

Examine where are you with your marketing and sales systems. Do you have a plan? Did you scale back your investment, expectations, and projections? Are you guaranteeing a shrinkage of sales by cutting back on your marketing and selling efforts?

Deal with facts not fear.

Don’t project or hope for situations that probably won’t materialize.Cut out excesses such as unnecessary overtime and shop time. If you must pare down your workforce, keep your very best people no matter what they cost you. You need to be able to gear up and ratchet down your human resource band-width quickly to remain cost competitive and profitable.

In the bestselling book, Who Moved My Cheese, the four characters all handle change differently. It is a quick, insightful story about change. There is one character, Hem, who refuses to leave the “cheese station” once the cheese is gone. Hem decides to stays in the empty “cheese station” and starves to death. Hem is afraid of change.

Be prepared to Move Your Cheese! Change can be good! Go through your customer files to mine golden nuggets from past satisfied clients you haven’t kept in contact with. Look for markets that are still prospering.

Right now, there is a very fine line between being profitable and losing money. A single isolated event could tip your company in the red. In today’s environment you MUST make sound, prudent, timely decisions.

This leads into the second phenomena; which we will call COMPLACENCY.

Complacency is the opposite side of the coin from fear – but it’s probably three times as deadly!

Often, a total lack of action to surrounding circumstances can lead to a venomous painful death. This would be our similar to my old friend “Hem” in the Who Moved My Cheese book.

One of the solutions is a continuous and sustainable sense of urgency.

Don’t mistake panic for a true sense of urgency. Panic is running around doing things hap-hazard that do not fire your bullets at the targets that make a difference.

Urgency focuses efforts on the critical success factors that need to be accomplished, while allowing you to win as a team.

You need to identify these success factors. And you need to act on them. Below I list a few that are universal to most contractors:

  • Master accurate job costing.
  • Increase lead generation by defining and expanding your marketing plan.
  • Maintain or increase sales by pre-qualifying your sales leads.
  • Cease chasing unprofitable jobs or ones that don’t fit your capabilities
  • Follow-up, follow-up, follow up with all your prospects and customers.
  • Curb all unnecessary spending.
  • Make sure you have the right people on your bus and drive it to success.

Now you have other success factors that I have not identified. Identify them and implement solutions for them too.

Time to introduce you to the Parkinson Principal.

The simple definition of the Parkinson Principal is: “work expands to fill the time available”. Think about the essence of that statement.

If you give an individual a task and a long deadline, how often is the task completed early early? How fast would the task have been performed if it was approached with a true sense of urgency?

If your workers’ attitude is “We are going to get paid for eight hours today, and the work could be accomplished in five, but we’ll take the whole eight hours.” you have fallen prey to the Parkinson trap.
Stop that mindset fast in its tracks!

As a contractor one of you biggest expenses you have is labor. If you build a sense of urgency in everything your team does, you can win big!

The companies that are agile, willing to make changes; even if they are out of your comfort zone, face their fears and operate with a united sense of urgency are going to survive. Many will even be stronger in the future. We Hope You Join Them!

Perhaps you want to have some other business people or trusted confidants to bounce your ideas or important decisions off of.

Especially if you feel fear or complacency are lurking in your mind or organization. I recommend that you carefully choose your counsel. Pick other intelligent people who are not doomsayers. Our consulting business is flourishing because business owners now more than ever realize they need assistance. Don’t be afraid to seek professional advice.

Remember, life is too short to be grinding away at a business
that doesn’t produce the rewards you deserve!

Reprinted with permission from:
Ron Roberts & Guy Gruenberg,

Free Recorded Seminar – Low Cost – High Impact Marketing

March 4, 2009

View this Recording of this Seminar

If you’re in construction, I don’t have to tell you how dismal the industry is. Times are tough and the economic outlook is bleak. At least that’s what the media keeps telling us.

The truth is there is still a lot of commerce going on. Just take a look at the parking lots at the malls and restaurants. They’re full of shoppers.

Did you know that there are contractors that are actually growing their businesses right now? You heard right, growing. They’re doing it and not by cutting prices.

What are these contractors doing?

  • Actively marketing their business
  • Continually educating themselves
  • Watching their expenses

I recently had the pleasure of talking with Joy Gendusa, CEO of PostcardMania to discuss marketing. We talked about how business owners are paralyzed right now because of what’s going on in the economy. People just don’t know what to do next.

Joy’s company works with businesses of all sizes to help them get unstuck and she knows what she’s talking about. She started her company in 1998 and has grown it into a very successful business employing over 150 people with revenues of 22 million.

If you haven’t seen it, you need to check out her website PostcardMania. Her company helps businesses set up and implement post card mailing campaigns from start to finish. She also offers a ton of free marketing advice that all of us can use right now. It’s good stuff!

Joy has a wealth of information to share and has agreed to do an online seminar with us. Joy will discuss some strategies and techniques you can use to market your business and get the leads coming in again.

One thing you’ll notice right away is that her philosophy of helping people is very apparent. Even if you never work with her company you’ll come away from this seminar with a lot of good information that you can implement into your business right away.

I look forward to having you join us for this free seminar

Dan Baumann

PS. If you decide to work with PostcardMania, just mention my name Dan Baumann and you’ll receive 1000 free postcards with your first order.

Why Should Your Company Have a Website?

February 3, 2009

The answer to this question is neither short nor easy. With a little research you can find hundreds of reasons, but there are a few general statements that may help you realize your needs.

  1. Your competitor has one! People refer to the internet as the first source of information, so chances are, if you have a website new potential customers will find you.
  2. Presence on the web. A website can reach millions of people that might otherwise not be available for you. Peoples’ habits are changing. People move to a new area and very often rely solely on the Internet to learn about the new area, research and find out who to go to for what.
  3. Selling tool. Customers can view products, services, or whatever you want to share from the comfort of their own home. No matter what type of business you are in, there are ways to grow and make money on the web for you.
  4. Most people expect that any professionally run business will have a web site. With a well-designed site you can make an impressive first impression; thus potential new business.
  5. Add your Web Address to your stationary; business cards, other advertisements and you’ll have visitors knowing exactly where to go for answers to their questions and where to send their friends to for great service.
  6. The more people know about you and your company the greater the chances you have for attracting new customers.
  7. More Advertising for Less Money. With a web site you can have pages of full-color advertisements that run 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. You get to present yourself and your services to your customers using many descriptive pages, images, etc. This tends to build peoples’ trust, which in turn, makes them more likely to purchase your products and services.
  8. Bolster Your Current Ad Campaign. Include your web address in your current ad campaign and people will turn to your site for more information. Gathering more data is often a first response to a well-run ad campaign. With your site address listed in your ad, you will have people coming to you to get that information and your services. A better return on your advertising money is a great reason for a web site.
  9. Save Time with Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Online. Do you spend time answering the same types of questions for each of your clients? Well that may never stop but there may be some hope! With a web site you can put the answers to these frequently asked questions online and ask your new customers that you have begun working with to visit these pages. You can even email them out a link to these pages. Your customers will appreciate the knowledge that you will be providing them.
  10. Educate Your Customers. The first step of any sale is getting the client familiar with what you are selling. In this day and age more and more people are looking on the Internet to get the information they need to make educated buying decisions. Include articles of interest telling your potential clients about your services. When they call you to discuss your services, half the sale is already done; you’ve already given them your “pitch”. You will even save time (and money) because the ones who do call are interested, warm (and sometimes hot) prospects, not just someone calling to gather data.
  11. Get Referrals. Referrals are a number one way for small businesses to get new clients. On your web site you can add a “refer to a friend” link where your current clients (or just visitors) can send your link to a friend who may be interested in your services. This will increase your number of referrals.
  12. Create a New Customer Base. Many people are turning to the internet rather than the traditional sources of information (newspapers, yellow pages, etc). With a web site you will be able to reach a whole new segment of potential clients that may have missed your current ad campaigns. A good, informative web site will attract many people who may not have heard of you otherwise.
  13. Get Email With your web site you will also get email addresses for your business. On your site will be a link where people will be able to email you for additional information. This is a fast and effective form of communication that enables you to get the answers or information needed for the client at your convenience and send it along.
  14. Establish a Relationship with your Clients. People generally prefer to do business with people they “know.” On your site you will give people the opportunity to get to know your business (and perhaps you) and feel more comfortable with you. Once this is established they will be more likely to want to do business with you as compared to the other, similar company about which they know nothing. A picture or profile of you or your associates will make you more real to the client and make the client more likely to contact and communicate with you.
  15. Gather Contact Information. A newsletter can be an expensive promotional action. With printing, postage and time spent, the costs can add up. With a website you can have people who would like to receive your newsletter send you their email address. You can then email your newsletter to all of the people in your database. You don’t need to pay for printing or postage for these newsletters. Continual contact with prospects leads to more clients.

This list should get you thinking. A website is a great invesment in your business and knowing how to do a website, what to add and how  to keep it current will pay back in the form of more sales.

Here are the recordings of the class for members of ChiefExperts.com Seminar on Websites

Check out this great software for creating a website called XSitePro. If you can type a letter you can create a website. You’ll see XsitePro and other solutions you can use to create and maintain your site.

Another great product that is true;y WSSYWIG is Xara Web Designer

To Your Success!

Dan Baumann