Beat the Box while creating a sales climate.

“Success is solving the customers problem, success is not answering pricing questions” – Jeff Filkins aka woodguard.net

something better

Something Better means increase in sales and unlimited potential.

A customer asks you the price of a common item. You know that your price is higher than your competitor.

What do you do?

How would you earn this customers business while upholding the highest standards in business practices.

This is the busy season customers are busy, you’re busy and the last thing we want to do is waste time. Whether in person or on the phone, we answer pricing questions all day long. If you’re not the lowest price in town having a strategy to gain that customers business is vital to your continued success.

When a customer asks you for your price on a product you sell your response should be: “The price on this product is $xx.xx AND we have something better” (Woodguard e.g.)
Your customer may start asking you questions about Woodguard and the price. At this point you are not taking time from your customer you are solving a problem which is valuable. When your customer calls a box store they will ask the price on common item, and then may ask, “Do you have Woodguard?” and the box stores response will be, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Or “I’m not familiar with Woodguard”

This is your advantage you now have a reason for the customer to come see you first! The first place the customer goes also has the advantage of offering the higher margin items to complete the project. This will increase your average ticket sale, your gross margin and best of all, separate you from all the sales people who are answering pricing questions, because you help solve problems through project selling!

This is building secrets we all should know!  

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Its not a problem, till its a problem.

There are many tools in business and by far my smart phone is one of the most valuable ones.  When my smart phone was factory reset, I learned that there is information that can be lost that isn’t backed up by your normal backup safeguards.  Even with Gmail, AT&T Sync, Samsung Link, SIM Card, SD Card, and play store apps, I managed to lose information that was important.  I recovered the information the old fashion way, I went to my office and dug through files until I found what I needed.  Having this happen during a work day and interrupting my routine could have cost me more than time.  I have been thinking about how prepared I am for situations like this.  Am I forecasting far enough ahead to be prepared?

GS3

I have realized there are many things at home, at work or somewhere in between that I use or look at everyday and assume it is functioning properly.  These are the thing that are “never a problem, until they are a problem.”  I wouldn’t be doing my Blog justice unless I tied this into fences or at least made reference to a fence.  This is FenceNews after all!

Yes, fences are one of the things you see everyday and as long as it’s upright there isn’t a problem, Right?  The answer is, “not necessarily.”  Like I mentioned previously, there are many things in the same category as the fence in your back yard.  Tires on the car, batteries in emergency lights, filters in the heating and cooling system,  ink in the printer, information on your computer, information on your smart phone, oil in the car, and the list goes on. All these things have the potential to become problems if we don’t take the time to do proper maintenance and prepare for things unseen the best we can.

Maintenance is the answer!

It goes as far back as  “A stitch in time saves nine”  A stitch in time is a proverb that originated in Anglo Saxon Britain, which literally means that a timely effort will prevent more work later.  There is a huge theme that has emerge in building, design, and consumer goods all over the world.

The theme is Low-Maintenance.  You see and here it everywhere and if you pay close attention you will see that some low-maintenance products really are a better value.

One of those products is Woodguard.

Environmentally friendly, no splinters, twisting or warping. Frame your space in style!

Environmentally friendly, no splinters, twisting or warping.
Frame your space in style!

Woodguard is one of the first Low-Maintenance building products.  Since 1978 Woodguard has taken structural Douglas  Fir  and treated it with borate and then encapsulated it in plastic.  It makes for a great fence post, horse fencing, sub-structure for decks, arbors, pergolas, trellises, and any outdoor project where aesthetics and low maintenance are priorities.  As a rail fence it has the strength of wood and the durability of plastic and costs less than vinyl!

http://www.wood-guard.com

Fences need maintenance.  That means every year you should go out and inspect your fence posts, sand, paint, replace loose or damaged boards and tighten loose gate hardware.  Just like you rotate the tires on the truck.  Decks need the same annual care.  One of the most common mistakes regarding fences is, assuming that CCA ( Chromated copper arsenate ) pressure treated wood rated for ground contact does not need maintenance.

cca 4x4

Annual maintenance is required for the post to last.

If you read the warranty information from the pressure treated manufacturer you will find that annual maintenance is required. It will state that a “topical water repellent should be applied annually”  and that there are specified fasteners so that rotting isn’t promoted throughout the fence post.

Chromated copper arsenate (CCA) is a chemical wood preservative containing chromium, copper and arsenic. CCA is used in pressure treated wood to protect wood from rotting due to insects and microbial agents. EPA has classified CCA as a restricted use product, for use only by certified pesticide applicators.

Your fence is only as good as your posts!  And your posts are only as good as your maintenance routine.  Low-Maintenance seems to make all the sense in the world!

I hope this information is helpful and gets you thinking preventative maintenance.  Whether it’s backing up the data on your smart phone or building a fence with low-maintenance posts so it last a lifetime.  Maintenance helps you to spot problems early and avoids emergencies.

I would love to hear any tips or tricks you have or if you have a low-maintenance suggestion. Please contact me.

Happy Building !!!

Building Secrets that we all should know.

In my opinion; success, both professionally and personally are directly related to the health of your relationships.

Check out @INTUIGY’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/INTUIGY/status/439451969820712961

Portland Home & Garden Show

Portland Home & Garden Show

Come See Woodguard Fencing at the Expo Center in Portland, Oregon
Booth 728 … See ya There!!!

3 Simple Steps to make sure you are getting a good “value” out of your building project.

Parts taken from the series, “Building Secrets that we all should know”

Price –vs- Service where is the real Value?

Sometimes as home owners and consumers we focus too much on price and miss out on value.  I never understood the logic behind driving across town for gas to save .02¢ per gallon.  If my tank is 16 gallons I managed to save .32¢ on the price of gas but spent and extra $2.00 and 30 minutes of my time doing it.  I actually lost ($1.68) and more importantly 30 minutes of my time.  This is not value!  Why do many drive away feeling like they received good value I believe it’s because the focus is on price alone and we forget the importance of value. 

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val·ue

ˈvalyo͞o

noun

the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

 

I am getting ready to exhibit at one of several trade shows that will be going on this year.  This particular show is the Spring Home & Garden Show held in Portland Oregon at the Expo Center on February 20th – 23rd 2014.  I enjoy trade shows and always look forward to learning about new products, companies, building practices and seeing what the latest trends and styles are.  I try to maximize the amount of information that I can “take away” from these events because it’s the knowledge that is of “value” to me.  I have a system that works for me and it is second nature now and I hardly give it a thought.  As a home owner I use this same system to get information that is of “value” to me when I decide I am going to do a project myself.  I’m sure that many people do some research online or attempt to get some information before running out to by materials for a project.

If you are focused on price alone, you may actually lose time and money? 

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So you have decided that you are going to build a new fence, deck or outdoor project.  You may know how to do part or your entire project.  How can you make sure that you are getting a good value?  Here are three simple steps to make sure you get a good value.

1.  Get at least two Bids

Getting bids on your upcoming project, from qualified contractors is highly recommended.  This requires making some phone calls to friends and family and get referrals of contractors who have proven good work.  Talk to a neighbor and find out who they have hired in the past.  Look for fences or decks you admire in your neighborhood and ask the owners who did the work and if you can get a referral.  Look for current work crews in your neighborhood or city, if they are working that is a good things.  Stop and talk to the person in charge and trust me they won’t mind at all. 

(always ask for the bid two ways: With materials included and just labor )  this request will allow you to compare the bids apples to apples as we say in the business.

Now that you have your bids you can decide if it is a better “value” than Buying Materials, doing the work yourself and the time it takes you to complete the project.  If you are unsure what your time is worth do this simple exercise:

Estimate how long it will take you to complete the project, then look at the “labor only” bid and decide if you would except that amount for the job.  If not, you are better off hiring the contractor.

2.  Talk to professionals at a specialty store or pro yard.

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Service counters are a good value!

Talking to people who work with the contractors and the lumber and materials it takes to do your project is very smart and FREE! It only takes a bit of your time which makes it a good value.  You are there to get prices on the materials or “bid” and while that is taking place you can gain a ton of knowledge.  These professionals are your best source of information and it gets easier.  All you have to do is ask one expertly crafted question.

            What are the three most important things I should know when building a _______? 

Fill in the blank with fence, deck, arbor, gate, privacy fence or whatever it is that you are planning to build.  Be ready to take notes and listen.  Odds are you will get more than three important things but do this a couple times and you will be far ahead of most in preparation.  This is how you build value into your project because regardless of your decision to hire a contractor or do it yourself, you are more educated to make the decision.

3.  Do the Math.

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Now that you have your bids two ways, you have material bids from your local pro yard or specialty store on material costs.  Hopefully you are aware of time saving tips as well as common problems you may encounter completing your project.  This is when you can make an educated decision on what is the best value.

If you complete these 3 simple steps, then you will have enough information to decide what the best value is for your particular situation.

Do you have other helpful tips?  I would love to hear about them.  Just comment on this post or you can email me directly at jeff@projectsalessolutions.com

Happy Building!!!!

The 3 most common mistakes of fence building. Building secrets that we all should know.

The 3 most common mistakes of fence building, avoid these costly and time consuming mistakes.

The great thing about building #fences, #decks, garages and even bigger project is that you will learn so much.  Gaining knowledge that will get you recognized in your inner circle as a true “handyman”.  Some projects take doing them more than one time before you have it down.  The other option is to take some time and talk to a couple different experts to guide you in the right direction.  These experts can be found wandering up and down the aisles of your local Pro Yard or Building Material Specialty store.

Smart people learn from their own mistakes, wise people learn from other’s mistakes.”  – unknown author

Building a fence incorrectly takes away from your curb appeal and home value.

Building a fence incorrectly takes away from your curb appeal and home value.

In my years behind the service counter of a national building material retailer, I advised thousands of DIY’ers and contractors alike.  Most before the project ever started but I received daily feedback on completed projects and the success or the “if only I would have known…”  It is the “if only I would have known” that I paid very close attention to.  Later in my career I realized I had a large amount of information that I call my “#building secrets”, that we all should know.

Fencing is fairly straight forward.  Planning and preparation is the majority of the project.  Done correctly and the rest is easy.  This leads me to, the 3 most common mistakes made when building a fence.

1.      Post holes are not spaced properly. 

People will tell you to space your post 6’ – 8’ apart.  Actually you should space your posts “less than 8’ apart”.  What ends up happening is the closer to 8’ you try and get the posts the more chance you could (after settling) be slightly more than 96”.

Planning your post hole spacing correctly saves you time and money.

Planning your post hole spacing correctly saves you time and money.

This means you have to buy 10’ nailers and cut them down to size virtually wasting most and paying the higher price or dig the holes again and that really isn’t an option. For example: if you had 48’ of fence you could have 2 corner posts on either end of the run and 5 evenly spaced line posts 8’ apart (on paper).  In my opinion it is better to add an extra post that would be spaced approximately 6.85’ apart.  If you have a gate anywhere on that run of fencing you will need that extra post anyway.

(Remember  …corner posts and hinge side gate posts should be larger in size e.g. 4×6 instead of 4×4)

2.      Design over function

The second mistake that I see all the time is a matter of #design over function.  Pressure treated posts are the most common wooden post and often I see people using pressure treated for the nailers or top caps.  I get it, you want your fence to match, but here’s the problem: Using Pressure treated 2×4’s as nailers is not only a mistake it costs more.  Most treating companies use hemlock fir or “hem fir” as their wood choice because hem fir accepts the chemicals better and has a better rating.  Hem fir tends to twist and warp more than Douglas fir (Douglas fir doesn’t accept the treating as well) In addition to warping and twisting hem fir expands and contracts more easily fasteners tend to work their way out over time.

Look closely...Notice the bottom nailer in the photo above, it is already warping

Look closely…Notice the bottom nailer in the photo above, it is already warping

This is why you can walk along an existing fence and see nail heads ¼” off the surface of the board.  Douglas fir holds the fastener the best and doesn’t warp or twist as easily.  Just remember if it isn’t contacting the ground, pressure treated is not needed.  In some area’s pressure treated is not used, instead cedar is the preferred choice for posts and rails.  Cedar has the same problem holding fasteners as hem fir and I recommend using doug fir nailers on those fences as well.  For aesthetics you can put a light stain or sealer on the nailers to match them to your posts if you choose.  This information will increase the life of your fence and decrease the amount of time spent replacing components of your fence that fail prematurely.

3.       Pickets placed without “shrinkage” accounted for.

The last common mistake is very easy to avoid.  Cedar fence pickets shrink!!!  1×6, 1×4, 1x… anything, cedar will shrink in width as much as ¼” per board.  This means if you fasten the pickets side by side starting with “no gap” in a week or more you may have in some places gaps up to ½”!

Your starting gap will get as much as 1/2" wider after cedar dries out.

Your starting gap will get as much as 1/2″ wider after cedar dries out.

This is not private in my opinion.  There are two simple solutions to this common mistake.  The first is: “Plan for the fence picket to shrink”.  The key is to start with no gap so that you end up with gaps that are ¼” or slightly larger when the fence dries out.  I have watched professionals setting pickets using a 16 penny nail as a gap gauge, only to be called back to the job to reset all the pickets.

Overlapping pickets create the "privacy fence" or "no gap" fence.

Overlapping pickets create the “privacy fence” or “no gap” fence.

The second solution is: Cover the gap with another course of fence boards.  Gap your 1x6x6′ fencing pickets from 1-3” to begin with and then cover that gap with another 1x4x6’ fence board or a 1x6x6’ fence board.  This does not mean that you need 2x the fence pickets but you will need 25% – 35% more pickets, you will end up with a true “privacy fence”.

There are many factors to consider when planning to build a fence or replace an existing fence.  Please check with your local officials to find out if there are any restrictions or ordinances that affect your project.  Check with utilities companies before digging any holes to avoid hitting existing pipes or wires.  Talk with your local professional lumber yard or building material retailer and get several opinions before you start.  Happy fence building!

Design Trends for 2014 and Tips for Fence Building or Replacing

As we approach the spring building season for 2014, knowing some of the latest trends in design and style can increase the value of your project and save you time. Whether you are replacing a fence or building a fence for the first time you have endless choices and several things to consider.  The function of your fence will help you decide some basic questions such as height, material and design. Here is some information that will be useful when planning your fence project and tips that will save you time and money.  This information will save you valuable time and help you avoid some common mistakes in fence planning, building and replacement.

First and fore most, the new fence will ensure that your family will enjoy your outdoor space with privacy.  If you have children or pets, the security that a fence provides is priceless.  Remember, unlike the cost of materials for your fence, the “cost of maintaining your fence” is the annual or biannual maintenance required to keep your fence looking great and lasting as long as possible.  Now you’ve got more options for the type of material that is used. Painted wood is still a top choice, but because it is high-maintenance, low-maintenance materials are being used more than ever.  The material and design of your fence can significantly affect the cost and time associated with maintaining your fence.  Aside from privacy, security and maintenance costs, here are some additional questions to ask yourself.

What type of material do you want to build your fence with?

Wood, metal, vinyl, composite, and plastic encapsulated wood are some common choices.

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How tall do you want your fence and are there any local codes that restrict fence height?

Most residential fences are 6’ – 8’ tall.  Many communities have strict guidelines for the height and appearance fencing. Often the height of front yard fencing is 3’ to 4’ feet, and the fence may also be required to be set back from sidewalks, driveways or street.

Design Tip – Extending the top of a wooden privacy fence with lattice or slats adds additional privacy while making your fence more attractive and decorative. If you plan for lattice before you build you can get the correct length of fence posts.  It is much easier to install longer posts than extending them later with metal plates and additional post material. ImageLattice top

What style of fence do you want, and what is the best design?

Many home owners design their fence to compliment the look and feel of their home as well as the surrounding neighborhood.  Some fences are designed as “no climb” fences and others are designed simply for the aesthetic value or curb appeal.  Ultimately your fence can add value to your home and should be considered an investment.

Tip, save time and money –

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Changing post locations when replacing a fence saves you time and money.

If you are replacing an existing fence or have hired a professional to do it for you, removing old posts that have been concreted in the ground can be time consuming and costly.  Consider offsetting the post locations of your new fence and simply cut old posts off just below ground level.  This should save you time and money.  You may not be able to move corner posts or posts that support gates; however, this is great for line posts or with fences inside your property lines.  

Trends for Fences in 2014
Fences that have a wire mesh panel framed in wood are becoming very popular in residential fencing.  The wire used varies from ½” x ½” welded wire, poultry netting, rolled fencing and even 52” x 16’ cattle panels.  These materials are framed with wood and then mounted to fence posts secured in the ground.

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Multicolored or two toned fences have been around a long time.  Many home owners, fence and deck contractors even professional house flippers are framing their space in style by using colored posts that match house trim or compliment the colors of composite decking. Colored posts allow you to meet design standards, local building codes while giving you a custom look.  This can be accomplished by painting or by using innovative products like Woodguard;
Hot fencing product for 2014!
Woodguard manufactures an environmentally friendly treated post that is encapsulated in plastic and available in several colors.

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Over-sized posts seem to be trending for 2014 in fence designs.  Your fence is only as good as your posts, is emphasized with larger than necessary fence posts.  This is a technique used to give the fence a more prominent look and adding value with minimal increased investment.

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Tip, save time and money –
“The most common flaw in all deck and fence projects is poor footings”
A good rule of thumb is to bury 1/3 of the final height of the fence. This will usually give sufficient lateral strength. Unless you are using a post that doesn’t rot, like structural plastic encapsulated posts or the decorative vinyl, remember to create a slope away from the post with the concrete to avoid pooling water that will decrease the life of your post.

Slope concrete away from post and put gravel in the bottom of your hole for proper drainage.

If you are planning to replace a fence or build a new fence there are many resources available.  To find out the latest in fence design, building tips, design ideas and professionals in your area that can do all or part of your project.  Check to see what Home & Garden Shows are scheduled in your area.  Home shows are generally held in the spring and again in the fall and has all the information you need in one location.  If you see a fence in your neighborhood that you like, check for contact information near a corner post on the fence.  Fence contractors and installers often put their business name and phone number on small plaques or signs and attach them to the fence.

If you have a time saving tip or would like to share design ideas, please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Will a fence increase the value of my home?

If you have ever thought about selling a home or if you have sold a home in the past.  You have probably asked, “how can I increase the value of my home?”  There are several things that a home owner can do to increase the value of their home but I am going to focus on fences.   Will a fence increase the value of my home?  Another important question  to ask is, “will a rotted fence or no fence decrease the value of my home?”   The quick answer:  Fences DO increase the value of your home and increase curb appeal while reducing the time on the market.  If a fence needs replaced or repaired, the cost can be deducted from your homes value in a buyers offer to buy effectively lowering your homes value. Consider what some of the experts in home selling and home owning have to say: MSN Real Estate According to MSN Real Estate there are 13 big threats to your homes value and 9th on the list is no fence.   9. No fence Threat to value: Low; 5% to 10% Many potential buyers are looking for a home with a fence because they have pets or want their children to be able to play in the yard safely. “When you look at standard appraisal forms, there is a premium paid for fences,” Wiley says. He says porches and decks also add value to homes because people like outdoor space, especially in good climates.”

Century 21 The Top 10: Tips to Add Value to Your Home 6. Build a fence: If you’re trying to sell a house, the appearance of a fence adds value to the home overall. Buyers with children or pets will appreciate the privacy and security of an enclosed backyard. ehow.com “Fencing can add value to your home and possibly to your purchase price. Consider situations in which fencing may be worth the cost.”
Increased home value may not even be the best reason to build or replace your existing fence. Safety,security, and privacy are the best reasons for making sure that you have a fence that is in good condition and well maintained. As a home buyer you will instantly recognize the benefits of a well built, properly placed fence.

Did you know that one of the latest trends in residential fencing is “Color Fence Posts” ?  This is a simple and easy way to be different than your neighbors while complimenting your homes look and feel.  Woodguard Fencing offers a Lifetime Post that is available in many colors.  No rot, no twisting, no splinters and low maintenance make Woodguard Fence Posts one of the best new products for 2014!  For more information please visit http://www.wood-guard.com
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