Saturday, May 21, 2011

Photo's from Ft. Wayne

Here are some images from the Ft. Wayne project.

Meet the Ft. Wayne Crew. From left to right, Malcolm (me), Rick, and Jacob.

It all begins by placing this little cove. Have to set it at a level which we expect the floor to be. Have to also set it at a location where we expect the floor joints to be. No sweat for a layout and leveling expert. Mitre corners very nice too.

Next we jack up the walls 1/16" joint nice n flat. Were averaging 110 SF per. 8 hour manday. Pretty fast but challenging with 12" x 24" tiles.

Once the walls are all set and grouted, then we set the floor ( not wanting all the mess from walls on floor). Floor goes in a running bond( bricklayer pattern).

Here's Rick, from the crew, putting in the last piece. He's been looking for that piece all week. LOL.

Here's a shot of the finished work ready for the buffaloes to come in and hang toilets and stalls etc. It will never be as clean as this moment.

We'll be back at it next week to do the women's bathroom.

Happy Tiling


Monday, May 9, 2011

Marketing Tile to Women

From Jeanne Nichols

It's probably not a surprise to any one that women matter in the tile purchasing decision. They matter alot is an under statement. In her column in the most resent issue of TILE Magazine, (here) Jeanne Nichols, Owner of Star Grass Partners and Mod Mood, she defines women as "The Prominent Influencer". It appears that some of us guys are not getting the message as she indicates a recent panel on industry insights and innovations held 15 men and not one single woman.

Yep its 2011 and we men are still clueless; however, I am most at home when I have a tangible goal to meet, like laying the next 100 feet of tile. But after reading her article I am reminded that I need not be so clueless so long as professionals like Jeanne are around to inform me about the latest ways to market and sell to women.

In this article, which is geared toward the tile designer/dealer as an audience - Mod Mood being her tile and furniture store she co-owns with her husband provides a petri dish for her to continuously test and improve her theories toward sales and marketing (Not to mention her 17 year stint as VP of Sales and Marketing with The Trans Ceramica) - Ms. Nichols tells how to go about sales and marketing to this the Prominent Influencer.

She explains how, "women approach purchases: emotionally/reactive, or through research/discussion." She offers tips that can improve sales effectiveness no matter which way a prominent prospect presents herself.

The article keeps it real simple - which is probably why Jeanne is so good at marketing - there is the Before, During and After the visit to the store.

The Before makes a strong case for web presence and social media. For those of you fellas that don't get this, I suggest you read some Seth Goden, else you risk becoming a buggy whip dealer who happens to inventory tile. When I think about how my gal shops (even though she is an n of one) she spends a lot of time online researching and comparing prices features and benefits. By the time we go shopping, she is very goal oriented. I know my sisters and my mom spend a lot of time online researching purchases as well, so now we have an n of four. If the women in your life are anything like the women in my life...I think you get the picture. Its a statistical ceratinty for you: No website no deal.

The During emphasizes five things; that your store possess the same characteristics as your website; that personal contact gives you a read on how she prefers to approach the purchase (also to better demonstrate to her your good listening skills [GUYS! YOU CAN DO THIS!]); how you might and might not respond; provide interesting trivia (there's always something new in tile); and most important from my perspective, that you be genuine with your conversation.

The After emphasizes follow-up. She makes it fun for us guys by suggesting it's like dating [does this mean if I call her back just as she's leaving the store she'll think I'm a creepy stalker?] Silence of course sends the wrong message, that you are just not that into her. So its important to acknowledge, "that she was in the store, purchased the product, or to have been given the opportunity to share some ideas with her is a genuine way to continue the connection"

My take:
While we humble installers and fellow LOTC's (Low Overhead Trade Contractors) do not typically own stores, it is none the less important to take note: all of this applies to us too (except for the store part), but you do not get let off with not needing a website/social media presence. Instead of a store orgainzed for presentation at time of sale much in the same way as the web presence, we must organize ourselves for presentation at the time of service much in the same we present ourselves online. I'm here to tell you, my customers are choosing me because I blog, tweet, facebook, email, linkin and youtube. They are choosing me because I make a genuine presentation of me and what I value, so it is easy for me to back that up at the time of service. So in the long run I predict LOTC's who do not venture into the online arena with an emphasis towards dynamic (social media) as opposed to a static presence (brochureware), risk irrelevance through loss of market share or pricing power or both.

Happy Tiling!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Feature Project: Forsyth and Vaquero

To whet your appetite we gave you an in progress video from the Forsyth Vaquero project on 17-Feb. Many of you have patiently awaited this follow up where I show you the completed work.

While this post comes to you on May 6th the actual project completion was shot (scroll to end) on April 1st. Hence, the good doctors have been happy customers for going on 6 weeks. The lag between then and now can best be explained by success. You see when you are a job creating LOTC (low-overhead-trade-contractor) like me, success means you end up spending quite a bit of time in the field doing the work, getting dirty, getting tired, and just plain having fun. It's difficult to post in real time.

Since the time of April Fool's, the Crew and I have been out there in the mud the blood and the beer; finishing up The Cooler, an encore to The Encore, resolving punchlist on the Urban Canvas, as well completing two new projects projects in The Bootlegger and The Manor.

In this feature we bring you a video post.

The shot starts with a lovely stained glass window. You should know the glass is not original to the house, but the window itself is. Would you believe the previous owner covered it up with a fiberglass shower enclosure, Eww! See the photos;

The stained glass is by Mike Bomar of Bomar Glass, Toledo, OH . The house is blessed with several stained glass features which may be seen in the fall issue of the American Bungalow Magazine, #71. Mike used these for his inspiration.

Well done Mike! Hat tip to you for your artistic creativity.

In the "ready for tile" video we previewed the materials. In this shot (scroll to end) you see them put in place; 5/8x5/8 Cararra marble mosaics on the floor, 3x6 Hampton crackled glaze subway tiles on the wall along with ogee trim and mosaic return. Tile is courtesy of Virginia Tile Company, Livonia, MI. Here also you get to see how we carefully mixed in cut-to-fit Cararra slabs on the window sill and jambs, the radiator enclosure, and wrapping the threshold. We used slabs to enhance the look as well as provide additional watertightness in key areas.

Here Bomar also provided the freestanding walk behind glass wall. It gives what is otherwise a smallish bungalow bath a larger open feel while not blocking the view of the window. The shower barrier is only 36" wide, yet we need not worry about water splashing about because of the shower head's overhead orientation. Designers take note on this compact trick.

We kept quite a few of the original items, because they just are not made like they used to; the site-built medicine cabinet, the pedestal sink, and the terrazzo floor and base. More on the terrazzo restoration (here)

We did put new reproduction faucet sets on the sink (and Dr. Vaquero pointed up the metals in bronze). I put a new marble mosaic inlay in the floor to create symmetry in the exquisite border (in its original configuration the border must have flowed under a claw tub completing a rectangle about the room).

Bathroom accessories are from Pottery Barn (here and here) and the Paris style towel shelf available from Amazon (here). Plumbing fixtures are from Strom, "sign of the crab", Plumbing. Paints are all Benjamin Moore colors as selected by Dr. Vaquero. The gal has guts. Dr. F does too, giving he held firm on retaining the terrazzo.

The doctors took great risk; bold color scheme, mixing old things with with new - slabs with tile, a walk behind wall and a window in the shower. Oh my! All in all the finish is quite rewarding and a great fit for their home. Remember reward follows risk, so while the bath may not be plain vanilla, this bathroom is for them. They know it and they love it. I love it too!

We pulled this off by working a group process, one in which they were firmly in control yet confidently led by yours truly. I was so pleased to be their builder. Enjoy the video. It is our gift to you.

Presently we are out at two fill-in-projects, The Pool and The Pan before we head off to the Ft Wayne project.

Happy tiling! And be sure to let me know what you think by hitting the like button up above or taking the time to leave a comment below.