Sources of Work – Part 3

Source #2: Real estate

The past two articles dealt exclusively with the insurance industry. Now I want to change gears and point out another industry that provides a great source of repair and restoration work: real estate. The benefits come for all involved, namely, the buyer, the seller, the real estate agent and you, the one doing the repairs. Let’s take a closer look at the real estate market.

Real estate agents are a unique breed. They have a tough job and I don’t envy them in how hard they work to earn their commissions. The ones I work closely with have earned my respect and admiration. One thing I’ve learned about this group is that if you work with them and look for ways to be of fast and efficient service, they will keep you busier than you could ever imagine.

One key factor is to adopt an I’m-humble-and-easy-to-work-with attitude. This must be genuine and sincere from the start and is essential in dealing with the real estate market. It’s a fast-paced, quick-moving world where service must be executed in a timely fashion and people must be handled in the kindest and most judicious manner.

In this type of work you may come in contact with several groups—the buyers and the sellers, and also the real estate agent or agents. At times you may just work with the real estate agent or it may be a representative for the buyer or seller. The more help you can be to the agent the better! If they can trust you and feel confident that you are going to take care of the details, from actually doing the work and keeping the site clean, to securing the property and handling any keys involved in a responsible way, they will adore you. This will help you immensely in getting jobs referred to you in a steady stream.

As I mentioned before, much time is spent looking at and bidding jobs. So the more jobs that you can have referred to you and that are more or less “pre-approved” (meaning they want you to do it and how much it costs is not as important as getting it done and that they are not going to look any further than you) the better. As long as you keep costs within reason and perform, a happy ending is within reach.

More and more companies, both in the insurance and real estate industry, are coming out with “preferred contractors” lists. You want to be on that list! It gives you the edge. It is a great marketing tool for you, to be able to let future clients know that these companies have a high regard and respect for you and the work that you do. So you see, the benefits are twofold: One, you can work with the real estate agencies directly and two, you can use this as a tool to gain credibility with other clients that express an interest in having you work for them.

How does one begin a relationship with a real estate agency? First off, you must be concerned with them. If you’re new to an area it’s as simple as meeting for lunch (with you paying for it, of course!) and telling them you are very interested in working. Believe me that this alone will get their attention! Ask them to show you a home or two that they are selling. You won’t have to sell yourself from this point. With a friendly approach they usually will start asking you what can be done for specific properties. Remember: They are trying to do as much as they can to make that property appealing, to get it bought or sold. Again, you are going to be the “hero” that comes in to help them do just that.

Another approach to introduce yourself to real estate agencies is to go directly to their office and ask how many agents they have. Leave your cards with the receptionist. When an individual real estate agent contacts you, he or she often will ask for more cards. Again, they are interested in giving more value and service to their clients. By handing your card to buyers and sellers, you’ve just given them a hand in getting their houses ready to put on the market, or to assist in getting them in shape before the move in. Believe me, I really enjoy working with these real estate agents, and I’m sure you will, too, once you’ve seen how grateful they are that you are going to make their work a little and, in many cases, a lot, easier. Using the simple strategies I’ve outlined here will help you tap into this second source of work in a big way. Next time we’ll discuss source #3: property management.

Many thanks from Plaster Man

I wanted to express my thanks to the members of the Walls & Ceilings writing staff, as well to each of you individually who were so kind with your cards and letters and gifts for my new little girl. They were all most appreciated.

I also want to say thank you in this issue to Sarah Mazure for giving me the chance and opportunity to write for this fine magazine. This issue marks the one-year anniversary of this column. It’s been nice to hear from so many from across the country, both those doing the actual projects, to those in need of help and assistance. I see only bigger and better things coming from all of this in the future.

The first stop on my national tour

I made a recent trip to Seattle where I kicked off “The Plaster Man Restore America Tour 2000.” I could not have picked a nicer city to begin this special tour. Wow! I fell in love with both the city and its people. That’s what struck me the most–

the friendliness of everyone that we met. (And, of course, the amount of Starbuck coffee shops that there are!)

Let me share with you a little about the project we worked on out there. First of all, the job I worked on was for a couple I had done work for about 10 years ago. They live in a town here in the Midwest. I did a knock-down skip texture in their home when they first bought it and they really were happy with the result. So when they bought a house in Seattle, they flew me out with the crew to give their new home the same effect. (This shows you what can happen when you make customers happy and get their work done ahead of when they need it done, which was the case here.)

Picture #1 shows one of the crew applying a bonder to the walls and ceiling areas that we were to resurface. This home was in pretty good shape. We meshed over the cracks and then applied a basecoat over all the surfaces (picture #2). This was followed by a coat of finish that was troweled smooth and allowed to set. The next step was to skip texture the walls (pictures #3 and #4).

It looks like I will be holding a “How To Turn a Bucket of Mud Into a Pot of Gold” seminar in Seattle in November if things work out as planned. You can contact Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel, Seattle, or me for more details if you’re interested in attending.

I hope to feature a different supply house in each article from here on out as I make my way across the country and work and speak in cities on my tour route. These are the people that deserve a lot of credit for giving all of us in the field the support we need and appreciate!