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How have other builders located the “green customer”?

Ryan Evanczyk | Posted in Project Management on

I am curious to know how other builders are finding the committed “green” customer. We are a small construction company that has obviously been under all kinds of business/financial stress through these economic times. Several if not all projects right now focus on remodels/additions and have been mostly on a referral basis. It seems as if the market is calling for smaller, tightly built, energy efficient, local homes instead of energy efficient mountain monstrosities that we see all over our area. We are committed to the mantra “if its built right its built green” and we have always believed in this this fact. We have certifications with “Green Advantage” and CGP with NAHB Green….and we want to capitalize on this before the window passes us by.

We are a smaller commnunity with no local business network. We do have an HBA of which we are members. We don’t have a budget to do all kinds of trade shows and fancy booths. I am really curious to see what other contractors are doing? I know they are out there, but am struggling to bring us and them together.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks

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Replies

  1. Scott Dwire | | #1

    Please don't think that because I am answering this question we have this problem figured out. We started building green 5 years ago because we could see this trend headed our way and wanted to be the leaders, not the followers. I found green architects that I could network with and let them know we speak their language and understand their goals. This will get you invited to the table early in the design phase if they are using integrated design teams. We have a green building center and they have referred us because I made sure they knew about us. We have a green directory of businesses and I advertised in there and if there are community events where it is likely to be attended by sustainable living type folks, make sure you are there even if it is a stretch to have a booth. It doesn't need to be fancy, but put out some literature or books that talk about off the grid homes or something that will stop a "greenie" in his/her tracks and want to talk to you. Attend public meetings of the community gardens, green drinks, slow food, or other non-profit organizations whose members would be likely clients and network that way.

  2. Michael Chandler | | #2

    I've never done a booth at a trade show and I don't have a three fold brochure. I put most of my energy into my website and doing free educational presentations in my community. It doesn't hurt that I write for GBA and Fine Homebuilding, but the bulk of my customers are coming word of mouth to my website which is where I set the hook.

    So number one get a website! Make it deep enough that it supports numerous repeat visits. Make something on the home page change frequently so it will look "new" to repeat visitors and to Googles ever critical webcrawler-bots. Put lots of pictures on it with captions at least. They really don't read much of the text but they want lots and lots of pictures and some sort of back story on who you are and why your the kind of guy they would be comfortable working for. Make the images small enough so they load quickly.

    Skip the "landing page" people need to click through to access your home page and keep it dial-up friendly, even though the real bottlenexck these days is slow wi-fi connections rather than slow DSL. I create my pages in Microsoft Word and edit and paste in the images as I like them and then e-mail the word doc to a guy who puts it on the web for me for pretty cheap. If he doesn't need to write any text or crop and edit any photos then he's very, very fast and that means inexpensive. Plus I get it done the way I like it. In the beginning it's good to have a proof-reader / editor. My mother was an english teacher so she did all that for me.

    Once you have it together get really memorable biz cards and color post cards with the web address prominently featured (modernpostcard.com) to drive traffic to it.I've even snuck my postcards into the card rack at the local health food store as if it was for sale. What we call guerrilla marketing.

    Also focus your print advertising budget on local non-profit newsletters. I buy advertising from my local music festival and an environmental organization and we support Special Olympics. It's advertising that engenders good will, supports good causes and tells people we care about our community.

    Then volunteer to give talks about green and sustainable issues to local groups. High schools, the sierra club, churches whatever. Various builders in our local HBA pooled photos and PowerPoint skills and put together a bunch of canned PowerPoint presentations for realestate appraisers, non-profits, high schools, community colleges etc. Your local paper doesn't have enough money to pay writers any more so they may be glad for you to pitch some pieces about green building to them. Non-profits are always having fundraising festivals and often have a place for sustainability information. Put together a presentation about teaching people how to weatherize their homes to save energy and the environment and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and you can get in front of lots of folks. Of course the last slide on your talk has your bio and your website as well as links to EnergyStar.gov, NAHBgreen.org and NotSoBigHouse.com which all should list you among recommended builders in your area.

    The i-ching sums it up pretty well. "Perseverance furthers"
    I wish you good luck and success in all you do.

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