Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

What women want when you renovate for them

Canadian Contractor Marketing & Sales Business Professional

Women make the majority of home improvement decisions. So you have to know how to sell to them and build for them.

By Karen Hamilton

Last fall we decided to replace the 20-year-old carpet in our house with hardwood. When our contractor cut open the first box of flooring and displayed its contents, my smile of anticipation immediately turned to a look of dismay; the colour of the wood in the box was nothing like how I remembered it from the samples he’d shown me. Sensing my concern, the contractor and his crew immediately did everything in their power to reassure me. I felt like God as they bent over backwards to find the original sample, phone the factory and make sure I was happy. My husband, who also had his doubts about the floor colour, was pretty much ignored in the rush to reassure. It was obvious these construction pros had their attention focused squarely on me, the woman of the house. Smart move.

You’ve probably heard the statistics: women make or influence 85% of the purchasing decisions and they purchase over 50% of traditionally ‘male’ products including home improvement products. So it makes good business sense to figure out what women want.

Women want to be listened to


Before you tell them what you can do for them, ask women what they want, what they need, what their budget is and what their lifestyle is like. Then shut up and listen. We like it when people are genuinely interested in what we have to say. Besides, you`ll get plenty of useful information.

Women want storage

You might be the hunters but we`re the gatherers and we need a place to put all the crap we, our children and our husbands lug home. Talk to us about storage and you`ll have our attention.

Women want a women-centric website

That means:

● ‘Lifestyle’ pictures of people enjoying their homes and not just static images of the work you`ve done

● Online tools like quizzes that can help us narrow down our choices of material or design elements

● ‘Before and after’ shots that help us imagine how our living space might be transformed
● Videos

● Links to resources

● Customer stories that we can relate to

Women want convenience

Life is hectic and we appreciate the little things that make things run more smoothly. When I happened to mention that I often do work on my laptop from the family room couch, my contractor brought an electrician in to sink an electrical outlet under the new floor in the family room. Then he made me a removable panel from the same material as the rest of the floor. Ask yourself what little thing(s) you can do to make life more convenient for your customers. Whether it’s a custom drawer in bathroom cabinetry that holds hair dryers and curling irons or a pet washing station inside the garage, these custom touches will almost certainly wow your clients.

Want more ideas? Women-Centric Matters, a division of Design Basics, offers construction professionals webinars on how you can talk to a girl.

Karen Hamilton is part of the team at Hammerati. Hammerati is a professional network exclusively for the construction industry.









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4 Comments » for What women want when you renovate for them
  1. chris says:

    >my contractor brought an electrician in to sink an electrical outlet under the new floor in the family room. Then he made me a removable panel from the same material as the rest of the floor. Ask yourself what little thing(s) you can do to make life more convenient for your customers. <

    Very interesting article and you don't hear from many woman when it comes to the trades very often, but I agree, woman are the decision makers for the most part.
    I quoted the above because, while I agree with has been said, in reality it's very hard to pull off. Take the floor plug for instance, that Karen used as an example. The Contractor would ask the Electrical Contractor what that would charge, floor already in and likely the basement ceiling finished. Elec Contractor gives his quote, special plug etc. Then for the Contractor to cut the floor and to make a nice cover for it, this becomes a pretty expensive extra. Now, a few clients will agree to the cost because they want what they want but more often it's a waste of time to suggest and quote such luxuries. It's usually just designers that come up with this sort of thing, but once priced by the Contractor, they get deleted from the plans buy the disappointed home owner.
    I also agree that even with most woman in the family working outside of the home, they still ultimately do the lion share of the work INSIDE the house as well. Convenience is key. Typically, plans we get for additions, renovations, do not include Electrical and we have to design it ourselves and quote on our own plans. I always add more plugs then required by code and it's not to make money. It's because no matter how many plugs you put in, say the family room, sure enough, every one of them will end up with furniture blocking them. So, when we go to vacuum etc, there's not a plug anywhere. Last thing you want to do is move a couch away from the wall to access one. I always like to add a plug in hallways adjacent to rooms. But, when the clients get our price via the Contractor, they start to delete to bring down costs. Often the Contractor wants the electrical devices cut down in number, before presenting. I just know that down the road, once the job is over and they are living in the space, the person doing the cleaning is mumbling…. I wish we had more plugs in this house! All to save $70-$80 at the time.

  2. Chris says:

    I’d also like to add that women like to spend money on changing the home. It “needs” to be changed even when it doesn’t.
    The mans motto is don’t fix it, if it’s not broken.
    The womans motto, it hasn’t changed for 2 years, it’s time to change it.
    Be it a new coat of paint, remodelling the kitchen or bathroom, maybe a new floor. I don’t know what women’s problem is, they can’t stand to see a man relaxing around the house. We men like, or try, to save money but women just don’t seem to care about that, if it’s there that’s what we have it for.

    Men, think into the future, in case of a job loss or etc.. there’s enough money saved up to coast for quite a while. But women get the whip out, use the money and then if their man looses their job, get your ass out there and look for another one! The sex is great, the love is great, but when it comes down to work, let’s just hope you don’t comment on the way your wife does her work and hope she doesn’t comment on how you should do yours.

    They say happy wife, happy life. But also happy husband who gives a f###. That’s really the saying.

    All you single guys, love to dream about women and what you can do to get her into bed, but just remember women think the opposite way around, women dream about what they can do to get him back to work.

  3. chris says:

    OK, I just want to make sure anyone reading this knows I am not “Chris” Feb 28. I am “chris” Jan 18, whew! I’m pretty sure Chris (not me, chris) is a guy?

    Chris, while some of what you say has some truth to it, just due to the differences between us, you/me, man/woman, most of the jobs we are on have the woman, the homeowner, as the major breadwinner. True, woman are often times the harder ones to deal with, more involved in the renovation, more attached and emotional when it come to the home. Often to, the couples seem to take on the roles of “good cop/bad cop”, with the husband taking a back seat on the reno, happy to let his wife play bad cop with all these burly blue collar guys. But, many times it’s all her money going into the project anyway, so, she wants what she wants.

    In our home, I am driven to change things, perhaps because woman notice everything, men only seem to notice if you’ve moved the television, but I do all the painting and repairs and cleaning. It’s amazing how much more noticeable baseboard shrinking and pulling away from the wall or it’s quarter round is, when your on your knees washing it, as opposed to sitting on the lazyboy watching tv. Still I only pull out the big guns (the hubby) when I need a wall relocated:) I draw the line on sledge hammers but my silicon and painting skills are second to none.

  4. Awat Hamid says:

    My only way to sell that is most important is very simple. Do that, and your clients will be more than happy.
    (Care), treat people’s house/ projects like it’s your own.
    When you care, you save them extra costs, you bring them what they want, best quality and so on…
    For example, as a painter, I take my time and show my clients all the possible ways that best fit for their project, provide all details I know about colour and how other people use them at their homes.
    As well as, best ways to save money and time. But I always suggest my clients to NOT try to save on the cost of paint, buy best paint possible such as Benjamin Moore’s. Because it’s not the paint that is costly but it’s the service, and if you use cheaper paints then your projects could end up even more costly..

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