Evolving and Adapting with the Times by ProQuest


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         Evolving and Adapting with the Times
         Community service projects, on-time guarantees and energy audits keep company moving forward
         By Pa t r i c k L . O ’ To o l e

                    n a late June afternoon                       alone to operate a separate division of    trimmed its gross margins to lock up        backs up its job schedules with a $500

           O        amidst one of the worst
                    economic downturns in
                                                                  his firm.
                                                                       The transition to energy
                                                                                                             quality projects. In some cases this
                                                                                                             meant allowing customers to buy their
                                                                                                                                                         per day on-time guarantee. In two
                                                                                                                                                         and a half years of offering the guar-
         the country’s history, Mark Elia,                        efficiency stands in contrast to           cabinets directly from his source.          antee, the company has only had to
         CGR, CGP, of Mark of Excellence                          his business as it existed only 18               “They know we are the best            write one check.
         Remodeling in West Long Branch,                          months prior. Back then, Mark of           company for the job,” says Elia. “They           “From the get-go, we have always
         N.J., brims with optimism. He is on                      Excellence, like a lot of remodeling       like our process. But people are look-      prided ourselves on being different,
         his way back from three days of train-                   companies, was still experiencing a        ing for deals. It is a buyers’ market. So   and one of the hot buttons with clients
         ing with the Building Performance                        high level of activity related to big-     we are passing any discounts we get         was that contractors and remodelers
         Institute to become a certified energy                   ger projects. His average ticket was       from that vendor onto our clients.”         never finish on time,” says Elia. “We
         auditor. That same morning, much                         about $80,000. Today it stands at                The company has also expanded         started that program with a $100 per
         to Elia’s delight, the New Jersey Clean                  $50,000.                                   its service territory to portions of two    day penalty. I later concluded it was
         Energy program announced increased                            Elia has had to impose some           neighboring counties in order to act        not enough money to give clients real
         incentives to help homeowners pay for                    tough changes to his full-service          on leads it was generating from local       assurance. That is when we came up
         energy-performance retrofits.                            remodeling firm. The company has a         home shows. “In this market, we treat       with $500 per day, which we display
              For Elia, this was proof that                       staff of seven, including himself, down    every lead like gold.”                      prominently on our Web page.”
         embracing green remodeling, and                          from 13 last year. Lacking a recep-              Despite these recent changes, Elia         Elia says the impact of the unique,
         energy efficiency in particular, had                     tionist, inbound phone calls are now       has remained consistent in a number         on-time guarantee has been difficult
         been a good move. The new certi-                         routed directly to mobile phones. “It’s    of important ways. Each year the            to measure. The company generates
         fication would qualify him or any                        one of the sacrifices that we’ve had to    company has held a day-long yard sale       about 80 percent of its business from
         member of his team to conduct these                      make, but every call gets a live voice,”   of remodeling products from local           referrals, but the reasons for the refer-
         assessments and make recommenda-                         says Elia, who started his company         vendors. In 2008, the event raised          rals
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