How to Start a Home Remodeling Business: Secrets from Startup

Hi! Who are you, and what are you currently working on?

Beau Chateau Construction is a Design + Build enterprise that specializes in kitchens, baths, wine cellars, and home theaters. Although we carry an Unlimited Construction License, we choose to focus in these core areas.

My roles are designer, contractor, overall project manager, and cabinet installer. We provide a complete suite of design and construction services for all home renovations.

kitchen-remodel-sketch

Offering the customer true photo renderings of their project before construction starts is key to our business strategy and success.

kitchen-remodel-rendering

We are the only Design + Build contractor in the area to provide this unique service.

We believe that if the customer can see their renovation in photo realistic form, change orders are minimized or eliminated.

They also go into the project with more confidence which helps with the high inherent stress of home renovations.

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What’s your background, and what inspired you to start your business venture?

I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from North Carolina State University.

After graduation, I joined Corning and worked there my entire career holding different engineering and construction roles while earning 26 US and International patents.

I was also awarded Inventor of the Year Award three times. During my last years in engineering, I represented Corning at the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) for 10 years and held the Chair position for 4 years.

I really enjoyed design and construction throughout my engineering years, which may have been the foreshadowing of my future in residential design and construction.

My biggest frustration was going through the mechanics of starting a small business while at the same time wanting desperately to get started. This process, although slow and tasking, was necessary for developing a foundation to build on.

Learning all of the elements within a small business, such as: website creation/maintenance, accounting, business law, and residential design software, was also key in building the foundation.

Some of these tasks can and will be delegated to others in my business, but I believe it was important to see and understand the basics.

How did you get started? What did the early days look like?

While still in the early stages, we are seeing our niche growing within the construction/renovation space.

I really thought that we would be further along after three years in business, but truth be known, the slow growth was a blessing in disguise.

We really needed the time to develop our skill/expertise when things were slow (building expertise at full speed is like building a plane while in flight!).

How have you grown your business venture?

I think the biggest and most important way to achieve traction is marketing and marketing strategy.

There are plenty of ways to waste money in marketing, and believe me, there are plenty of marketing strategists that will take it, so you have to be careful in this realm.

You must research the proven methods that work for your particular company, and know how to target your clientele.

Learning this the hard way has proven invaluable, and has led to major market growth when executing directed and well planned marketing.

What is 1 small but powerful tactic you implemented that helped you achieve success? How did it make a difference?

Although happening in the future, we are planning to have our company booth at a major Renovation/Construction convention in Charlotte, NC.

There will be many potential customers attending, which will give us a chance to demonstrate our design and rendering capabilities.

What is 1 of the biggest challenges you faced during your business journey, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was focusing on the proper design process. Example: I love the design aspect of renovations, but I had to stay focused on the proper order of the design process.

bathroom-remodel-sketch

bathroom-remodel-rendering

This is a hard thing to explain to customers (and is just as hard for me), but as form follows function, one must get the “function” components in place before refining the “form”, i.e. I wasted a lot of time refining designs that were not fully vetted with the customer.

Now, I have several meetings with the customer to fully understand their needs and desires and build basic designs that cover the design of function.

Then once all of the function elements are identified, the design of form begins (which takes the most time).

What is 1 new or unusual trend showing up in your industry that you’re paying attention to?

Design + Build contractors like to have their own complete showrooms with all available renovation products.

I really do not feel this is a good use of resources (money and space).

I prefer to display our core business components, which are cabinets, and then direct customers to the large appliance centers, lighting centers, and tile/surface centers.

These showrooms invest a huge amount of money on the latest product offerings that would be almost impossible to duplicate.

We are a boutique design center using architectural software that bring in libraries from all major manufactures, so the customers can see initial ideas of styles and colors to better narrow their search.

What is the biggest factor that separates successful people from people who fail or never get started?

Refusing to quit, being able to identify problems, and making adjustments are qualities that make successful business owners.

There has never been a successful business that started out looking the same in the beginning and at the peak of success.

When you hit a roadblock, you must acknowledge a path that did not work, make an adjustment, and keep moving ahead. The goal is not to move in a straight line, but navigate to success!

What advice would you give to someone just getting started?

Be prepared for a hard journey, never give up, and be flexible.

Having your heart set on selling blue bicycles, when customers only want red ones, means that you must put your “likes” behind the customers “likes”.

I love designing semi-modern and transitional kitchens, baths and spaces, but I have to listen and design to what my customers love.

Otherwise they get frustrated and lose interest, which could lead to a lost opportunity.

How are things going today and what’s next?

Still somewhat slow, but making daily progress. Growing the business is my next hurtle in light of the manpower issues.

I have interviewed many people who seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum: they want more money than I make as the owner, or they have no skill and/or track record.

We will continue to do the things we can do “in-house” and sub-out the rest.

What have been the most influential podcasts, books, or other resources?

Nothing in the realm of podcasts or books, but I spend much time building my expertise on designing and using Chief Architect.

The most useful training is from the manufacturer, but finding techniques on Youtube have also been helpful. Being fast and efficient in design is and will continue to be our differentiator from the competition.

Where can we go to learn more?

My website shows our story and our capabilities: www.beauchateauconstruction.com

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