At HomeStars, as we are in the business of growing yours, we are always looking for ways to help you get the clients and the jobs you want. Apart from helping you connect with homeowners, HomeStars also helps by providing more visibility to your brand, helping you showcase your glowing customer reviews and showcasing your vetted status through the Verified Badge. To understand more about how HomeStars benefits a business, we reached out to Debi Gerson-Locke, who heads Inverness Design Build, a family-owned business specializing in residential additions, renovations and custom homes. We talked to her about her business, the design trends of 2023, going digital with HomeStars and much more. Take a look!
Tell us about the beginning – how did the business take off?
After graduating from George Brown in Construction Management, Peter was hired as a Construction Superintendent for Bramalee Ltd – building over 400 houses in Brampton. Then in 1980, he opened his own design-build company called Peter C. Locke and Associates. In 1987 he purchased Chenay Bay Beach Resort, a hotel in St. Croix, USVI. I managed the property while Peter continued expanding it as well as doing construction on the island. We sold the hotel and in 2012 moved back to Toronto and started Inverness Design Build Group Ltd which was the corporate name of Chenay Bay Beach Resort.
You have an impressive profile – complete with amazing pictures, a good description, licenses and certifications etc. Could you talk about how important the profile is for your business especially when homeowners are using it to shortlist contractors?
The 3 most compelling reasons homeowners call us are our pictures, Peter’s video and previous client testimonials. They see our work, read our reviews and hear Peter speak about us. Once they call, we look for commonality to connect with them. Making that connection is EVERYTHING! Once you do, use it to get that appointment set up.
Your clients have praised you greatly for paying attention to every detail and requirement and especially adding value to the home – when you take on a project what steps do you take to ensure client satisfaction?
Coming from a hotel background, communication with our guests and attention to detail for both the property and rooms was essential. So, we bring that same philosophy to our projects. Always keep clients informed as to what will be happening on the job. Alert them if anything changes, immediately. Return their calls promptly. Keep the job site clean. Most important is the advice from Peter’s father who was a developer and the President of what is now Tarion, “Always give your client something,” and “Deliver what you promise because you can’t buy back your reputation”.
As a family-owned business that has been around for decades, how and why did you decide to shift to the digital world of reviews & why did you join HomeStars?
Like the buggy whip, times change and you must change with them. Places like the Yellow Pages which were once the way to go have petered out. Consumers are much more technically savvy and do lots of research using the internet. Homestars offers the consumer the opportunity to find multiple companies in one place, know these companies have been vetted and that the testimonials are from reliable sources, not made up. Being part of Homestars gives us more credibility and helps us with our marketing.
Any memorable projects from HomeStars that have stood out to you?
The interesting thing is that a lot of the projects we have done might have initially found us at a home show or by Google but most then say they went to HomeStars as well. When we do the homeshows we advertise HomeStars in our booth, so our potential clients know where they can find us and know more about our services.
As industry leaders, what are some design trends you are expecting to see in 2023?
We have a specific style when it comes to design so the clients who hire us look for a classic style that never goes out of date. We are getting more requests for in-home saunas and home offices. Also, getting away from all white and gray and going for warmer earthy tones. Choosing different colours for kitchen islands and cabinets is also another request that is on the rise along with more open shelving vs. upper cabinets. One project we are working on now will use wood for their countertops and a brick look for backsplash. Another trend coming up is installing fun, eclectic tiles like mosaics and penny tiles instead of matching floor tile to shower tile.
Any advice for people/youngsters who are looking to build their own brand in this industry?
Pick a name that resonates with what you do. Too many people choose obscure names that could mean anything or nothing. Get a great graphic designer to create your company logo and a web designer who understands what you do. Don’t try and do it yourself. Then market, market, market, market!!! If you can, get references from previous employers to put on the website. Join builder associations for networking. Do Google AdWords and join Homestars!
If you are feeling inspired by their story, you can get in touch with us to know more about how we can help you grow your business!