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What is Tabor’s Secret to Success for 25 Years?

By December 6, 2018February 6th, 2024No Comments6 min read

Tabor Design Build is celebrating their 25-year anniversary.  In an industry with one of the highest failure rates, how has Tabor managed to remain one of the Washington Metro area’s leading home remodeling firms, for 25 years?

“To answer that question, you would first have to take a look at why remodeling companies fail so often,” says John Tabor, President and Founder of Tabor Design Build, “and what we do differently.”

Contrary to what one might expect, some of the most glaring problems in the construction industry are not found in externally driven conditions –like the economy, but are rooted within the organization itself.   The fact that not all contractors fail during difficult economic times, indicates that there are other, more relevant causes.  According to many financial management experts, companies in the construction industry –whether big or small, often fail for the following reasons:

Lack of business knowledge –poor financial management, poor sales skills or inadequate marketing.  There are virtually no barriers to starting a home improvement business, other than perhaps owning a hammer and drill.  Without any overhead, other than a truck perhaps, independent contractors are able to undercut the estimates of larger contracting businesses with more overhead.  What is overhead?  Things like liability insurance, repairing company vehicles and employee education, just to name a few.

Every project is unique, and the learning curve can be expensive.  Even if the contractor is good at building and begins to win bids and contracts –they may not be good at business.  Paying a bookkeeper as needed, or an accountant at tax time, is not the same as having full-time financial management expertise steering the growth of the business and planning for long-term financial sustainability.  In any viable business model, someone at the top with financial expertise must be involved in decision making and strategic planning along with those who have expertise in the trade.  Some of the most common accounting and financial management problems with home improvement contractors include inadequate cost tracking systems, poor cash management, inability to forecast cash flow, and improper accounting practices.  It is safe to say that construction is an extremely competitive high-risk industry, and most who venture into this line of work are blind to its inherent risks in the beginning and disillusioned and out-of-business within a few short years.

The Tabor Difference:  Tabor Design Build is a family-owned and operated business since 1994.  John Tabor, President, has been remodeling homes for more than 40 years.  His wife, Tamara, holds a degree in Finance from University of Maryland and has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1997.  So while John has been recognized by Remodeling Magazine as one of the top 50 remodelers in the country, serves on the ethics committee, board of directors and is the treasurer of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s (NARI) Metro DC chapter –it is Tamara who has kept the Tabor Team “in the black” and profitable for more than 15 years.

2) Unrealistic promises, bad contracts, or court battles.  The way work is often procured in the construction industry is different from the way most businesses work.  The homeowner who wants a building project also wants to know exactly how much it will cost before the project is built.  However, many factors including unforeseen structural complications, fluctuating material costs, and subcontractor reliability make it difficult to estimate exact costs. This is where many contractors get into trouble, often under-bidding projects in order to get the job.

The Tabor Difference:  The FIRST STEP to ensuring that customers receive an exact quote that covers all costs is by figuring out EXACTLY what each customer wants –down to each fixture and faucet.  TDB uses an innovative 3D design system where customers are able to see their design come to life before their eyes on the 52-inch TV screen in the conference room. This allows customers to select cabinets, fixtures and countertops, arranging and re-configuring them until the perfect look and function is found.  SECOND, Tabor provides a comprehensive construction agreement, which includes the exact cost of the materials that were selected during the virtual design.  All the materials for the entire project are then ordered and stored in the warehouse to ensure that prices will not be higher after the quote has been given and the contract signed.  THIRD, all trade contractors –electricians, plumbers, painters, landscapers, etc. are required to attend a Trade Day before a project begins, so that all work can be planned and coordinated down to the day, and each cost is anticipated.  Tabor always uses reputable trade contractors with whom they have long-standing relationships with.  Taking these steps gives them the ability to guarantee that prices won’t change once a contract is signed, and to avoid cost overruns that typically get passed on to the homeowner as “change orders”.

3) Lack of consumer confidence in the company.  In a survey of homeowners who had recently hired a home remodeler, 48 percent of respondents said they would NOT hire their contractor again.  Two of the biggest reputation busters for home remodeling companies are their inability to perform the work on time and to complete it within the original budget.

The Tabor Difference:  Most of Tabor’s remodeling business, 70% in fact, comes from repeat business and client referrals.  According to RA Marketing, an organization that gathers data for the construction industry through surveys of past customers, Tabor Design Build has a net promoter score of 82 with a 91% response rate. “We feel that we can deliver better customer service when we are able to gather authentic customer feedback using an unbiased third party,” says Tabor.  “We are extremely proud of the feedback that we have received through this third-party survey system –and we have also learned what we needed to do better and made sure that we fixed any problems.”

What is next for Tabor?  John says that he is looking forward to spending at least another 10 to 15 years serving the community.

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