Jan 30, 2014 by Craig Gibson
Topic: Case Studies, Trades.
Surviving in the small business jungle is a real test, no matter how good your workmanship or service may be. Besides getting your job done right (and on time) there is the not so small matter of marketing your business and standing out from the crowd. hipages.com.au caught up with Allen Cetinic of Render My Home – who are active on social media and have an active blog – about the challenges involved.
Render My Home - Top Business Tips:
1. Believe and trust in what you do
2. Project a professional image
3. Don’t discount, instead add value to your service
4. Perform all day, every day
5. Set your own standards
Tell us how you came to be in business.
We became fed up with how other cement rendering companies were providing poor customer service levels and workmanship, leading to poor public opinions of renderers. In actual fact, rendering is a highly skilled trade and a good renderer can make all the difference to the appearance of a home. This is especially evident when you see a well rendered home versus a bad one, of which there are a plenty in Sydney!
What qualification and accreditation do you hold?
I completed a Bachelor in Applied Science after high school and then used these business management skills, knowledge and work experience in construction to establish our business. I also furthered my education by completing a Diploma & Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building).
Tell us one common misconception about rendering.
There are quite a few actually. Some people actually expect render to hold their home together. It’s almost like they think render will magically just fix everything. A render system has its limitations and is only as good as the substrate beneath it. We’ve dealt with our fair share of poor bricklaying and formwork, and no matter what we do, when expansion joints are not positioned correctly, you can bet that the render will crack.
Besides rendering what other services do you offer?
Since we position ourselves as an exterior façade home improvement specialist, we can assist in everything from roofing, balustrades, tiling and painting. We work very hard to maintain solid networks with other key trades that we believe are on the same level as us. We then recommend them to our clients and this produces a win-win outcome for all those involved, especially the client. We are really a non-stop shop for anything external.
Is there a rough cost per square metre that you work off for rendering?
Square metre rates are a dangerous guide to budget your projects on, as the rates have actually declined over the last 15-20 years. Not surprisingly - the decline in rates has translated into a significant decline in workmanship quality. However, rates for external rendering should be anywhere from $50 per m², yet there are quite a few render teams charging as low as $30m². I’d be steering clear of these guys for the sake of your home!
You have a blog and are active on social media – what is the strategy behind this?
It’s something I actually find quite therapeutic. I guess it’s my own little domain where I can vent any thoughts or opinions that are relevant to me at the time. It’s also an opportunity to inform and educate both the public and fellow tradespeople about the industry the way I see it. Sometimes I use the blog to relay a message or point I may have got from a fellow tradesman.
Your business was recently featured in the SMH – tell us how this came about.
I read an article in the SMH titled “The Trouble with Tradies”, as well as the 300+ comments that followed it. It inspired me to write a blog, which morphed into an article. I thought I’d get some feedback from the business editor at SMH and she loved it. I’ve been shell-shocked with the positive response and support the article has managed to attract.
The article focuses on professionalism – do you think this is something lacking in the industry?
Definitely. There is this so-called “cool” culture that currently exists on job sites amongst tradesmen everywhere, that is really just not cool at all. There are many cowboys in the industry that keep moving from job to job and give us a bad reputation due to their lack professionalism. We should be quite concerned about this, as it drags our industry down as a whole and makes it harder for those good tradesmen who are professional to gain the respect they deserve.
How do you ensure that you maintain your standards?
We simply just ask the customer, they are our biggest critic. Having an open and honest exchange with our clients daily means we are constantly kept on our toes. Our business relies solely on word of mouth referrals and if we were ever to drop our standards, this would mean that we would be out of business pretty quickly. We need to perform all day, every day.
What is the secret of your success?
Believe and trust in what we do and to not pay too much attention to our competitors. By having a clear vision on what we would like to provide to our customers, and being innovative in our delivery has allowed us to really set our own standards. And in a trade such as ours, this has then enabled us to shine through and become a breath of fresh air for our customers.
What three tips do you have for running a successful business?
1. Work hard on projecting a professional image for your business – this may not necessarily translate into volumes of work at the start, but it will draw in the right type of clientele and will set your business up on the right path. If a customer makes a connection with your business’ image, chances are it will result in a win-win outcome and you may even get your next job through them.
2. Don’t discount, instead add value to your service – when you give a discount, you are taking money directly out of your pocket and directly from your bottom-line profit. Instead, create added value options to your services and look to hold your price. Again it’s a win-win outcome.
3. Positive cash flow – this is your lifeline to your business and you simply can’t grow without it. Be firm on your terms, but be sure to deliver your end of the bargain by delivering exceptional levels of workmanship and service. Your clients will be delighted to pay you on time with the service they’ve just received.