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Design for a Difference with Dani Polidor

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About this Episode

The Remodeler Success Podcast is a show created to inspire kitchen & bath and countertop company owners to achieve optimal success in their remodeling businesses. The host, Dennis Oz, Founder of RTA marketing, the Digital Marketing Agency for the remodeling industry. On each episode, Dennis will be sitting down with industry leaders to talk about their processes, the lessons they learned, and how to find success in the remodeling industry.

How to customize the design for custom needs
What is the biggest challenge in creating a special design and how to handle with it
About Design for a Difference and more!


Hello everyone. Thanks for coming. Thanks for joining us today. This is another day, another meeting and another great session with our guest speaker. I’m going to introduce a couple of minutes later, I’m really excited about it. But, before getting started, as we always do, I’m going to talk about a little bit of what’s new in digital marketing for remodelers. Right. I just wanted to share a couple of different things that we you know there are a couple of different reports that we received this week and I believe that the insights are really interesting.


I really wanted to share with you. It’s all about our reviews, like our reviews that we are getting from homeowners, they are important, right? They’re really important. And, when we look at the consumers, like when you say consumers, I’m talking about homeowners well they are, they started to use online reviews in 2021. More than 2022 because the based on the data that has been provided by Bright Local, it’s a it’s a local internet search company. They say more consumers are reading online reviews more than ever before.


In 2021, always or regularly read them when browsing for local businesses. It’s up from 60% in 2021. So there’s like a 17% uptick right there and 67% will consider leaving a review for a positive experience when you have the positive experience that’s that’s of course important. But there are also negative experiences. It’s 40% will consider living a negative review for for this experience and it’s when it turns to, its a general like a consumer report, let me take it and apply to our homeowners. What you see is if we have some sort of little mistakes on our processes because kitchen design and jim Hotaling is a process.


If we have like a couple of glitches in these processes, our homeowners are not really kind of really want to, you know, they are not patient to kind of shoulder these problems, they just go there and give you a negative review and that’s why it’s important to keep our reviews up to date. I always say your reviews are like money in the bank and if you ask for new reviews, you will get new reviews and probably if you’re asking your new reviews to your V. I. P customers, right?


The big projects, probably they’re going to leave you a nice view with a nice star rating and but there will be all these people over there just looking for try to I feel a little better after getting hurt by different things. I remember the days when I was working as a kitchen designer, I always say, this one delivery truck around 15 minutes later and I got one star review, so don’t let this happen, get your reviews. Another question that I’m being asked is what review platform is always, is the most important.


Well, there are three major review platform that we can always talk about is first one is Google is I say google my business by the way, Google my business rebranded, its rebranded the whole google my business thing. It’s turned to google business profile and right now google business profile, reviews are the most important reviews that you can get from your customers. Secondarily, it’s, We can talk about like a Yelp or Facebook. Well, the numbers compared to 2021 and 2022 is a little different. Well, when you look at the numbers from google usage, right?


When people are using google, I’m going to share the data, consumer use of google to evaluate local businesses has leapt from 63% in 2021 to 81% in 2020 2020 to 81% in 2021 So it’s a 3 to 81. So google is when we look at like a review market, is this expanded its review share? At the same time, yelp climbed from 32 in 2020 32% in 2022 53% in 2021. And the other side of the fact that we have, facebook, facebook dropped because, you know, the facebook turned into pretty much like, are you recommending this place or not? The type of thing is it’s not asking their star rating anymore.


Users start reading anymore, so it’s dropped from 54 to 48 but yeah, when you’re looking like a whole online review thing is google is number one thing try to get, if you’re just starting, if you’re starting your business, try to get google reviews first and then try to dive into the other stuff like yelp or, or facebook and other review aggregators will take and kind of go there and fetch your reviews and put their website if you get reviews from on these platforms. All right, very good. So guys, okay, this is the time right now, I would like to introduce you Mikey speaker today.


They need thank you so much for coming and today then he’s gonna join us, we’re gonna talk about so many different things, so many different things about real estate market and kitchen design and all these kind of different, you have to talk about like designed for different for a different organization. But first Denny welcome, could you please introduce yourself? Thank you so much for having me. I am Danny Paula door. I now live in Rochester new york. I came here via Toronto Ontario where I went to college, the Ontario College of Art and Design where I have an environmental design degree and before that I grew up in Germany and I’ve just been delighted to be a citizen of the world and I’m the proud mom of two gorgeous girls, they are now 11 and 14 growing up way too fast and seven years ago, all my worlds kind of collided with this move into my dream home.


So I finally had my husband and I be our own worst customers. But yeah, I’ve just loved being able to meld design and real estate together and I can’t wait to talk to you about how Covid and sitting on the couch and being connected on the internet has impacted my business and how it’s important to me. Yeah, let’s talk about that actually. Yeah, thanks so much for just opening that kind of mentioning this one because, I would like to ask you because you know that you have you know that you also you’re a realtor and also you’re an interior designer.


So combining these two things and the same melting pot is well they look kind of similar but they are totally different in nature. Right? How do you let let me ask you, how does being a real to affect your interior design job? Well actually I became a realtor because as an environmental designer who is absolutely just so committed to the environment and the health safety and welfare of human beings and the creation of community and being really able to see ourselves and to break bread together and cross cultural and political lines and divides and and really the kitchen being in the heart of the home and the bathroom being your sanctuary.


I have loved the industry for so long because my parents were both in it. My mom as a project manager in a very high impact in Toronto design firm and my dad being a sole proprietor and heating and air conditioning company where the environmental changes are almost daily with the technology is in the A. C. And you know, it’s just, it’s been remarkable to see how we can move the needle, but there’s still so much work to do so because realtors wouldn’t talk to me as an interior designer in the kitchen and bath showroom specialist.


I decided is it hard? Can I just get my real estate license because then I can make sure that my clients can live in place and keep their community, keep their religious institutions go to the same grocery stores, watch their neighbor’s grandkids grow up, you know, have that pet sitter that there’s been reliable that finally has a rapport with the animal, you know, just being seen and be seen. I I feel like the more global we got, the less connected, the less that front porch has happened, the less that we look in on our neighbors.


And I feel like the pandemic has really created that community again, because now it’s become painfully aware of who’s alone and who doesn’t have that extended family where you really have people that you can hunker down with. Right, correct. Well that is correct. When you’re, there is one question actually, I was just listening, but then especially when you are like you are the realtor. So you know that, I mean, I’m sure that you have information about this, will there be a housing market crash?


Because I’m asking you a question because for a reason because most of us, this, who is listening to the show is they’re entrepreneurs, they don’t have four one case when they have investment, they go there and buy real estates and this is how they build their wealth, This is how they build their like, you know, the future. They don’t, they don’t have, you know, even iras they don’t even use, they use real estate to build wealth. So there are a lot of things we are in the modeling industry and I see that the remodeling costs are going up and down.


We had lumber crisis a couple of months ago, maybe last year and now the prices and the labor costs are getting really high and so cost of building a house is also increasing. I’m reading some reports and home builders are not really building as fast paced. So there are different things going on here. So what do you think? Will there be a crash in housing market? What do you think if you look at demographics, the boomers have two and three properties that are affluent as you said, they’ve invested in real estate, some of them are small to medium sized landlords, they’ve put their money into timeshares and in areas where really everywhere in the world we’re not making more land cities are continuing to grow and thrive, millennials want to be in the city center, they want to be walkable, they want to have what they want to have, but they’re also very egalitarian in their needs, they’ve gone a little bit more basic again.


And if you look at why the crash has happened before, it’s money, it’s financing products, it’s greed, it’s corporate backdoor dealings. It never has anything to do with the available land or who has access to it. It’s the fact that people who should have had access to it from the beginning were left off the table and I think that we’re now exposing this with the internet. I mean the internet turned how old this year and you know, smartphones are now in every grandma’s pockets, you know who your grandma is not on facebook checking up on the great brands, you know, like pregnancy announcements and funerals are being celebrated virtually now.


And, and that really speaks back to the humanity that I’m talking about is that to create generational wealth, you need to hang on to something that is going to continue to build in value. It is shocking that in a market like Toronto that a home that in the eighties was barely $100,000 is trading well over 2 to $4 million now because location and if you’re on a bus line or a subway or if you have a million dollar view and you’re on a lake or a golf course or in the finger lakes where I trade, I cover 24 counties and have sold in 17 of them.


Last year I became a high transaction agent through an online Internet referral service because I just thought Let’s see who’s out there, who’s buying real estate. So now I have 1200 data points and I can speak to why people are and are not getting their their offers accepted and a lot of the times it’s unacceptable. It’s still redlining and blockbusting. It’s just in a different form because it’s well your work history or your credit score or you know, you’re who you’re related to or where you live or what your demographic is and there’s products out there that help bridge those gaps, but there’s just not enough of them.


So I think that people are fed up with it and it’s time to become a more inclusive world. Got it. Okay, So as a quick summer of the the, the information that I got from you, there won’t be any housing crash in the future. Okay. five years. I’ve been a realtor for nine but for the last five years there’s been way more buyers than sellers and it started with like you would have one or two other people to bid against and then maybe it would trade at the asking price.


Now lakefront properties are trading upwards of 41-50% more than their asking price. And if words are starting to talk like almost $1 million 50 yards of waterfront. That’s a huge problem because the tax rate does not change. So that’s a huge cost burden for people that they don’t always think about. Especially some of the states that we get to live in have exceptionally high tax rates. I think 2020 after March 2021 when COVID hit the United States, I see a lot of changes on real estate market, especially not also in the real estate, but also in our remodeling market as well.


In tri state area, whole residents in Manhattan, they were living in new york. They started to move in Long Island and New Jersey and I’m the place where you’re living is by the Hudson River and I, you know, and we are really close to New york city in New Jersey and I see the population is growing over here just because people from new york just decided to move in New Jersey and kind of Northern New Jersey areas and my friends who are working as a real estate agents, they were talking to me and Dennis, you know what right now, they’re like more cash offers in market.


So it’s not like mortgages anymore because they’re just selling, they’re trying to sell their house and coming here, I think code also changed the the, the the rules of the game. Right? Very much so. Because cash is king because think about all that down state money coming into upstate, for example, since we are in the same geographical area now, somebody is looking at a farm in upstate New York and it’s $300,000. Meanwhile, you can’t even buy a little Studio in Manhattan, you might have one window that’s this big for 300,000.


If you’re lucky, that’s a rent controlled building and dollar for dollar. People have decided that because they can now tell the commute, they’re also creating the multigenerational family that people are after because sometimes you’re just not going to be able to bring in caregivers for the elderly parents or the parents have to work and then the the younger kids that now bring their own kids are coming. So it’s not uncommon to see for generation households all of a sudden pop up because assisted living is not an option with the lockdowns because people who need to be social and they want to eat what they want to eat.


And that’s not always possible with Supply chain issues. And and with the the rules of the lockdown, so people are actually buying bigger houses, I was in shock to see that the American home for 2022. I had to check the stats four times. They said at 4400 and change square feet, which is the size of my home. This new american home is a third smaller than The average of the homes that have built in America in the last 10 years and I googled that up and down and I was like that is a lot of 15 to 20,000 square foot homes to skew that average 6600 square feet, that 4400 square feet, which is super bloated, is the average size of a new construction house.


And people don’t need more than 800 square feet for a couple of kids to live. I don’t know if these people have never been to Manhattan or Europe or Asia. All right, so yeah, I totally got it. Yeah, thanks so much for this. Well, I will go back to your, let’s say you have different hands. I’m going to go back to your interior designer head right now and I’m gonna ask you this question. So I know that you are um you are special design expert for special needs design expert.


And first question, do you have a lot of requests? And and my second question is, what are the considerations when you are creating a space for special needs? Because people who is watching this show probably they don’t even know how to face with these kind of different types of designs. So we need your expertise there. Well, the long and short of it is it doesn’t look any different, it’s just about making the smarter choice to begin with. So going back to the european and asian model of having a wet room or a personal hygiene seed or hand shower or tiled rooms all the way up or steam baths and wider doorways.


More windows, windows that are lower to the ground, more access to the outdoors with egress, more lighting control, different height countertops, pullout, faucets, grab bars. All these things are very easy to implement and the construction actually doesn’t necessarily need to cost more money, especially if you’re doing a remodel. I was again, going back to the dream home. I’m not bashing it, but why the curb that they’ve got a double shower in there. And they decided, instead of going with a beautiful linear drain that would just keep the flooring consistent and it can be a large format tile.


They decided to put, well, this is how we’ve always done it. And my friend coined it as standard operating procedure. Her home is called the Forever living in place home dot com and you can see everything that is for special needs design in La Donna and Mike Erickson’s house and it looks like your everyday average luxury home. You cannot see the difference that the dishwasher is elevated, A french door refrigerator with drawers is fantastic. A french door wall oven where you can get closer is great for everybody putting your dishes and your heavy items into drawers.


Having a lift up for these stand mixer Having pullouts being able to pull a bar stool up. It allows people of all ages and abilities to use a space. And same with a walk in pantry having everything at a height that’s accessible, having all doorways be three ft wide. If we adopt as a standard of the industry that three ft doors are standard, they will come down in price. If we have occupancy sensors be the standard for lighting, then they will come down in price. And everything is smart technology connected now and we’re really on top of our health.


That’s another great thing that Covid has done is, you know, not only did we all put on the Covid 15 to 30 we also decided to kick butt and you know, start walking around our neighborhoods and get healthy and get a grip after we were crying in our cereal. So it’s really remarkable how your home and your space can support you. But the biggest thing is is contrast glare slip resistance, intuitive use ease of access. And one amazing story is that a young man with autism in our community can function completely on his own with off the shelf products.


So his connected devices off the shelf. We all buy them. Ring cameras, lighting control. Mom and dad can kind of spy on him when they want to and they know he got on the bus on his own to go to his job. And they know that he came home and that to me is just so remarkable that it no longer has to cost tens of thousands of dollars, it’s just something we’re going to buy anyway. Got it. Okay by the way you were talking about here residential areas right?


How about commercial? Because also government has especially cities have like specific guidelines to follow. Do you have any kind of tips to for especially like we are in commercial. Yes. I mean residential that’s that’s pretty much like a kind of a free space but when you’re dealing with like public space, if it’s a design for let’s say like you know maybe a store could be a part of it, right? Do you have any kind of a lot of like the kind of considerations when you’re working with commercial areas with the commercial areas there is the americans with disability act from 1990 a lot of that can be migrated to the residential and for the most part unless it’s grandfather the A. D. A. Is followed.


And then there’s new updates to it as well. Whereas it used to be the turning radius was recommended at 60 inches. They’re now saying well 68 would be better. And you know the same with the sloping of the ramp and that goes back to when you’re remodeling, why wouldn’t you include a curb cut in the first place because not only is it good with somebody who has got a cane or a service animal. All of us will not trip over that curb and it’s easier to push a baby stroller to use a locker to use a scooter and to use a motorized or manual wheelchair.


So it there are really great things that we can do with the technology and and just build it right the first time. So I’m very excited that people are understanding that wider. I’ll always are not only good for shrinkage and keeping your bottom line up, but it’s also good to really honor that client that comes in with a disability. And I think the biggest thing is that people probably know people with disabilities. But if you don’t just go volunteer somewhere where you will expose yourself to people who are different than you.


You know, go break bread and and and meet people from different countries and different religions and you’re just going to grow so much from that experience and together we can find more creative solutions. Alright, we’re gonna come to that because I want to ask you questions about design for a difference as well. But another question that I want to ask you, the biggest challenges, challenges when, when you’re creating a special design, the biggest, your biggest challenges for your, let’s say your recommendations when you just get started, you have some, you know, I’m sure that you have some, you know struggles when you got started.


How did you solve them? It’s mainly the contractors. So it’s about putting your foot down and saying as the showroom owner, I won’t work with you anymore. I’m sorry, I’m not putting up with the whining that these are the products, this is what I’m specifying. And if you want to continue to do it how you want to standard operating procedure as I mentioned before, then you can go and do those boring jobs with the off the shelf big box in vanilla design. But that’s not what we do as a company and that’s not who we are, what we stand for.


And I get so angry when I look at some of my old designs where I gave in because the clients then sided with the contractor and I’m like, yeah, but it would have been better. Another tactic is not to talk about it, but I think it’s like anything, the more educated and open we all are and the more receptive we are to listening, then it becomes the new normal, right? Like if I told you right now Dennis, please give me your smartphone. You’re going back to a fax machine.


You’re only getting mail once every three days. Your phone is attached to the wall. But you’re really fancy because you moved into that 19 fifties, mid century modern and we put an intercom in there and we put an outlet for your phone in the toilet. So it if people would just revolt, they would say no way. They don’t want your anti locking brakes to go away on your car. And you know, same with the vehicle design, there’s more and more technology that people are being exposed to.


Why not put that in our homes. Well, that’s interesting. That’s really interesting. Alright. Okay, so let’s talk about design for a difference because you’re talking about, yes, you are referring to it being a good person is not really hard. Seriously, is really easy. Could you please tell us a little bit of design for a difference? I would love to because this is really my heart mark brunettes is one of the biggest Menchaca’s ever in the entire planet. He in 2 2000 and 11 went to South Africa and remade an office for a homeless newspaper.


And a lot of times those who do good for other people don’t have the resources to have a nice working space because they’re kind of bootstrapping it or they maybe feel like they don’t deserve it and they don’t realize that a functional environment will create a better output and it’s kind of like putting on the oxygen mask first. If you’re healthy and happy, then you can help others if you don’t have a surplus and people are sucking you dry and your your gas tank is just chugging along and you’re just kind of like, okay, fine and it won’t work, right, you have to be happy and healthy, just just like the green plant behind you.


You know, if you left it in the dark it would get very sad and would start crying. So Mark Burnett, I went with C. C. A Global, which is a huge company out of concord massachusetts new Hampshire and they tapped this design contest. Well by season two it wasn’t a contest anymore. We really quickly realized when us five blondes got together that it was a movement and we just had so many similarities and differences and we were from multiple generations and two of us were moving and we all, one girl was pregnant and one lady was a grandma and the other person had three kids and we were just like busy working designers that just really wanted to give back to the community.


So we got called by our local flooring showrooms, the international design guild showrooms to come up with our favorite charities and the mission of the movement is that we help those who help others and it has just taken off like wildfire. So go on design for a difference dot com this year was the first time it actually went to a consumer, somebody that helped out with the Covid initiative and I got paired with a wonderful family out of a greater boulder colorado area and just to see what people are willing to do for their neighbors is remarkable and the quality of these projects and how much it transforms the charity is amazing because a wonderful, beautiful space, as you know, this is the industry that we’re in.


It just puts that spring in your step and if you have a comfortable chair, you’re gonna have better sleep. And then if you have better sleep, you’re gonna have more energy. And if you have more energy, you’re not gonna get mad at somebody because you’re, you’re too over tired and you know, just really it’s all about paying it forward giving back and and cause marketing is such a wonderful thing for businesses to do, Right? That’s that’s great. I mean, I also checked the website, could you please give us a website one more time?


It’s designed for a difference dot com. Right, correct. Yes. Mark Burnett, which is Mark Burnett’s universe. And he is just follow him. He used to be on clean house and he is one of the most authentic designers that’s out there. He’s in the L. A. Area designer to the stars and he has just spearheaded this movement like nobody’s business and has made it easy for other companies to replicate this particular model and you can do it in your area as well. I’m no sales and marketing director for the Living in place Institute.


We’re going to the kitchen and bath and builder show next week. It’s coming down, it’s coming excited excited to see us in the West Hall roof for you guys. It will be so fun and it’s just nice to finally get together in person again and that’s what it’s about. It’s about cementing and spearheading this movement that if we share collectively the education and the best practices as you are doing with your platform and getting people engaged to share in their social media and their their media marketing these things work.


People have sort of gone away from the newsprint, shiny objects and they’ve gone back to authenticity and the only way that you’re going to share the authenticity as you mentioned at the beginning was that the reviews right? You know that guy that gave that review, you can google that person look at their facebook page and say okay cool yeah the kids play little League together and I trust that person or I saw that person at the grocery store and you know when I started doing my email marketing campaigns as a very early in my real estate career and I would walk up to showings and people would say hi with my name, I was like do I know you?


And it’s like they read every single one of my newsletters. So it’s just like yes, you know like I feel like I know them because they knew my name, it’s important. Very funny story. I would like to add it to. Well we are running webinars for you know as well as a part of our service. We also you know we have clients across the United States and we are working with kitchen and bath show rooms to make their digital marketing right? And we run webinars for this digital marketing for for this kitchen and bath showrooms as well, one of the business owners and got back to me, he was in Tampa, he said I was shopping for lettuce and tomatoes and just two women right there talking about me and they just pointed out maybe their finger and they said, I know you we know you because you are building an authority in the area and you’re giving information to these people, you’re giving information to the homeowners about how to start and build their next to modeling project.


This is really important because because they will spend thousands of dollars and they don’t know where to start. Of course the first step is to go through and start to talk to a kitchen designer first, right? If it’s a bathroom, it’s you you got to talk to a designer kitchen or bathroom, you got to talk to a person who is like the proficiency and he said, well I was like a celebrity local celebrity and you know, they’re they’re talking about me, I’m really flattered, I really like that, you know what we’re gonna do this webinar is more and more so that’s really important because once you give the information, once you share the information with the community, whatever you find out in the industry, it doesn’t really matter that you are a remodeler or a marketer that you’re just, you know, kind of serving the industry whatever you find out, just like you know, you are doing right now right, Whatever you find out that sharing with people is really caring and it’s really important.


It makes us a really good person. It’s not really hard to be, you know, a good person, It’s really easy, It’s really easy and thanks so much for all these things that you are doing with the design for a difference and I became a fan of you guys after checking the website and everything. I will definitely kind of follow you on other social media platforms to see what’s going on there. And I would like to really would like to contribute as the way I can and yeah, I think today, well that’s pretty much like it and Denny, I cannot thank you enough because yeah, you answered all these questions that we have in mind.


Our community’s kitchen and Bath Business Mastermind community is we are getting very growing, we’re getting bigger, but it’s really important to answer all these questions that are being asked and the questions that we are getting, sometimes it’s beyond my my knowledge as a mark marketer and you know, these things all there, you know, different industry people like you is giving us, showing us the way and just enlightening us and thank you so much for coming today and sharing your knowledge with us. Thank you.


Thank you Dennis. That’s so appreciated and so nice to meet you and your team and you know, again, young kitchen designers and dealers out there, don’t be afraid You’re gonna unload a truck if you’re female, maybe in a pencil skirt and high heels like I did when I was 25 carrying a big, huge tall cabinet off the back of a snowstorm, because that’s what you have to do, as you mentioned with the 15 minutes there and and find a mentor. People want to share in this industry and that’s going to be the number one key to continue to keep our industry’s strong and thriving.


So thanks for everything that you’re doing, Dennis. Alright guys, thank you so much everyone for tuning out today. We’re gonna see you next time and hopefully we’ll see you in our next live stream. Thanks so much