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Many contractors constantly ask our customer service team if our company is owned by another company or any of our competitors.

We want to let you know Construction Deal is independently owned and operated. A few other online referral services out there have been bought up by our largest competitor (and still operate under their original names to confuse contractors) -- but not ConstructionDeal.com!

In fact, we're continuing to expand. We'll soon be offering a Contractor Directory, financing for homeowners, and a complete web re-design!

Don't forget to bookmark our site - we are and will continue to be your independent and nationwide Job Lead Alternative!


Internet Leads and Construction Jobs

There's an interesting article on the Qualified Remodeler website about Internet Marketing and online referral services, written by Michael Carden. Here are some of the highlights:

"Finding Internet Referal Sources

Many of you have asked how to get started in this new lead generating method. To start with, if you have an e-mail address, I cannot believe you have not been contacted by such a company. Perhaps you need to look a little more closely at some of the marketing e-mails you are receiving. Another method is (and I cannot believe I am saying this), "Google" it on an Internet search. I am sure you can find a number of companies that can assist you with your marketing and lead generation."

ConstructionDeal for example...

"Experience is the best teacher and also what most of us listen to when trying to learn a new method of operating our businesses. Let me share how Internet marketing and lead generation has changed over the last three years for one remodeling contractor.

Back in 2003, the number of calls/leads generated for this company was 22. The closure rate was 9.32 percent. The dollar volume was $27,350. Today, halfway through the year, the calls are at 56. The closure rate is 18.54 percent. The volume generated is $127,000. This does not include sidebar referrals from satisfied customers. To date, those numbers look like this: six calls, 50 percent closure and another $27,550 in sales and volume.

It does not take a rocket scientist to calculate what these numbers could convert to over an entire year. I know the good contractors are multiplying right now. Now continue to multiply these numbers by adding more than one, two or three sources or methods of generating additional leads. The contractor cited here, has three distinctly different Internet lead generating relationships developed at this point. Some are free, such as the local association Web site link to the company. Some are charging per lead for their service. Just so you know, the cost to date is $1,135.00. Personally, I would take these odds each and every time."

Keep in mind that $1135 would last you a long, long, long, long time on our service. Check out our Cost page here.

"Understand that this lead generation method, as with any other, takes time to develop. Do not expect these types of numbers immediately. The key is to realize that to turn your back to this method could create a major problem for your company in the coming years. Know who you want to market to, what type of job and customer with which you work best. Start now to provide a more fruitful future.

It does appear the Internet is not going to disappear anytime soon. If anything, it will continue to grow and refine its structure to appeal to even more potential customers for your company."


Building Costs are Up Again

Rising fuel and materials costs are really affecting many contractors in our network, cutting into profit margins. At ConstructionDeal.com, we would like ask all of our service professionals how you are handling the cost increases? We want to put together a list of "best practices" from our company owners and managers. We will publish as much information as we can here on the Contractor Update blog.

We're aware that costs are up across the board. It's more than just fuel costs. Lumber, concrete, and more have jumped higher. Charges have increased for delivery, waste disposal, and even insurance. Natural gas, heating oil, electricity are even higher.

Many contractors say they have been delaying raising prices but plan to do so in the near future. What are the plans for your company? Let us know if you're raising prices, adding fuel surcharges, or increasing service call fees. Or are you doing a combination of all the above? Feel free to email us on how your company has been handling business so that we can pass it on to our network. You can also enter a "comment" on this post.

We would like to know everything you have to share about your business. Have you lost bids due to higher prices? Have you reduced your company travel radius? Have you had to cut down on the number of employees or subs? Email, post here, or call us (866-663-4711), when you get the chance, and share your experiences.

Construction News Business Report

On Tuesday August 8th, the Federal Reserve decided not to raise interest rates for the first time in 2 years. It left the door open for future rate hikes down the road but felt the economy was cooling and inflation was in check. Higher oil prices and the slowdown in the housing market had the greatest affect on the decision.

This could be significant news for the construction and remodeling industries.

While it sounds great that they're not raising rates, their pause could be an indication that an economic downturn has already started.

In other important real estate news, housing starts were down 2.5% in July. While it might not seem like much, it is the 5th decline in the last six months. Even scarier, building permits were also down by a whopping 6.5% (the 6th straight decline and largest drop since September 1999.) These numbers all mean that the housing market is rolling over. Some are predicting that housing starts could be off by 20% and building permits off by 25% by the end of the year.

This data means that there will be less new home construction throughout the rest of 2006. Building companies may turn their attention to remodeling to generate revenue. Also, the depth of the bursting housing bubble has many homeowners running scared. They will be less inclined to take on new construction or remodeling projects. Even if interest rates stay level or drop, the consumer confidence level is down. It might take the rest of this year and all of next year to recover, no matter what the Fed does with rates. Stayed tuned to ConstructionDeal.com for developing news that
affects your business.

Source: MarketWatch - U.S. housing starts fall 2.5% in July


Save Your Business Money

With the economy slowing down and the rising costs of doing business, it's important to save money where you can. Every business exists to make money and you can either increase revenue and/or cut costs to do it. Your company can make minor changes that can add up to big savings.

Keep a close watch on energy consumption. Maintain your vehicles - keep tire pressure up, get tune-ups on a regular basis, and change the oil. Make your office or showroom more efficient - bump up the thermostat to 78 or 80 degrees; replace regular bulbs with fluorescent lighting; and update your appliances with new Energy Star ones.

Use faxes and emails instead of regular mail when you can – it costs less.

Many have expensive 800 numbers - you can save a lot of money using voice-over internet providers (VoIP) which can save on long distance, site-to-site calls, and voicemail (consider VoiceStick, Vonage or Packet 8.)

It might also be a great time to consider shopping around for better insurance prices. Rates always vary from every company so check and see what options you have. You don't want to give up any premium service - you want them there for you when you need them - but there are many options to choose from that can save you money. Try an independent agent who can shop around to get you the best price. Raising a deductible can lower premiums.

Ask suppliers if they give discounts for early payment. If not, pay your bills as late as possible without incurring a fee. The longer your money is under your control the longer it's earning a return for you rather than someone else.


Asking for Referrals

It's very important to have an up-to-date list of referrals to keep your business going strong. These references show prospective clients that you do great work. You need to not only have names and phone numbers but keeping exact quotes and pictures from previous jobs can really close a project for you. You'll be amazed how well your "Before" and "After" pictures will go over when you're making your sales pitch.

What's the best way to ask for referrals? Some wait for the homeowner to bring it up. However, they might have too much on their minds and it could be easily forgotten. Make sure to ask them if they would mind being a reference: you could ask, "Would you feel comfortable if I gave out your phone number as a reference?" Or, "Would you mind if I use you as a business reference?" 9 times out of 10, they'll say yes. And if they say no, it might be a good idea to follow up with, "How about if I only give them your email address?" Some simply prefer to communicate by email and will agree to help you out.

Another great tool to have on hand is a written letter of reference or a testimonial. Ask if your client wouldn't mind typing something up or emailing a recommendation out to you. It can be risky that they'll take the time to do it, however, so another approach might even be simpler - write it for them. You can put your own personal take on the project and how it turned out. You can give it to them to review and tell them they have the option to change or remove any portion they don't agree with.

It's a great way to get your referral without having to take up too much of your client's time. Need job leads between referrals? Register with ConstructionDeal.com today.


Something to Blog About

Sometimes a new trend can sneak up on us and be everywhere before we know it. The latest trend in online communication is called a "blog." What are these blogs you've been hearing about? A blog is short for "weblog" and it's a type of website where entries are made (such as in a journal or diary), displayed in a reverse chronological order.

What does this mean to you? At ConstructionDeal.com, we've started two blogs on our website: one for our property owners and one for you: our network of contractors (Contractor Update!) With these blogs we can provide helpful information as well as inform visitors of updates and changes. It's another way for us to communicate with you to help you expand your business. Bookmark the blog and check it on a regular basis to keep informed on the site, on our service, and on the industry.

How else can a blog help your company? If you have any information you'd like to share on your specialty, you can always send us some content to post in the blog. You can see an example sent in from a Concrete Staining Contractor in Louisiana on Acid Staining. Not only does this help promote his company on the blog, it's a great way to help his website with "search engine optimization." Since his site is linked to ours, with his company name displayed, it can help his website show up organically in the major search engines. This can be a very powerful marketing tool for your business. Email blog content with high-res pictures or links to your site to Blog@ConstructionDeal.com

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