BOB HEIDENREICH: Selling The Complete Deck Project

Part 1 of 3: Building a deck is like planning a trip.

The key to selling a complete decking project is to make sure you are working with the right customer before you even start. You have to qualify the person and the project. Keep in mind that not every project is a project that you want.

A good analogy to keep in mind is this: Building a deck is like planning a trip. We want to have identified our destination before we pack our bags and jump in the car. So, we don’t just pick decking and decide on a rail later, because that rail might have an impact on our project from the beginning.

A lot of times you might have a customer come in who is just asking to resurface a deck. They may not know that there’s a lot more to it. At this point, it is up to the sales person to analyze what they want to do and get them on the right track. Even though you might know what is in their best interest, this is an area to tread lightly. Not every customer wants to be advised on larger deck projects if that isn’t what they originally set out to do.

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For some customers, a consultation just doesn’t fit their plan. If they want to go to a big box store, pick out some screws and have a finished project, they’ll be in for a surprise. Once they get started with a DIY project like that, they’ll likely have a mess on their hands.

At The Deck Store, we try to get them on track from the start. We explain to them that they can’t just take the decking off their deck and put new on. Experienced professionals will go through the whole process with the customer from the start. We’ll teach them about the proper fasteners and the right kind of blocking. If they have a cedar deck, the joists might be 16″ or 24″ on center, but with most composites, we’ve got to go down to 16″ or 12″ on center.

Customers should also be informed about any new codes pertaining their project. For example, it’s likely that codes for the stairs and lateral support have changed since their deck was built. There are several different aspects of selling a decking project that need to be verified with building codes. Sometimes customers may want to leave their existing rails on their deck and not change them, other times they’re going to have to change them.

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