You figure that doing eight projects for ABC’s Emmy Award-winning Extreme Makeover: Home Edition since the show premiered in 2004 might earn nothing but kudos but you’d be wrong.
A few of Alure Home Improvements’ customers—not many but just a couple—weren’t happy that it took Alure about four and a half days to knock down a house and build a new one while they waited six weeks to get their kitchen done.
But when the engineers at Alure thought about their concerns, it was decided that they had a point. Why drag it out if you don’t have to? Why not put what was learned doing these rapid makeovers on television to use for its customers in everyday life? And that’s how Alure came up with what it calls the “Extreme Department.” The idea gained so much traction internally, the company decided to make it one of its mottos: “We go to extremes to build your dreams!”
“It’s not four a half days for a house,” explains Ron Benkin, Alure’s director of sales for kitchens and baths, “but five days for a bathroom and 10 days for a kitchen.”
Admittedly, the timing doesn’t necessarily work for every project—it has to qualify for the extreme treatment. There are legitimate concerns about obtaining building department approvals (some towns work more efficiently than others), advanced scheduling and pre-planning, plus what materials are picked, and most importantly, the scale of the remodeling.
As Benkin says, these accelerated projects only work if they are “direct replacements.” For the five-day bathroom, that means the new tub stays where the old one was so the pipes don’t have to be moved. The fixtures will be new, but the plumbing will be the same. For the 10-day kitchen, the appliances and the counters and cabinetry will be replaced but the parameters of the room can’t be altered.
“Whatever that old space is,” says Benkin, “we have to put that new kitchen into that space.”
But the team at Alure says customers whose projects qualify are genuinely happy with the results.
“Instead of your life being disrupted by six to eight weeks of people working in the hub of your home—in your kitchen—it’s only 10 days,” says Benkin. “Why wouldn’t they want that? The quality and the workmanship are the same.”
The key to Alure’s success is quality and efficiency, without cutting corners.
“What normally takes two to three weeks, we get down to three days without giving up anything,” says Benkin.
To meet the deadline takes advance preparation, but it also requires a large inventory and a special relationship with the major manufacturers, which Alure also has nurtured over the years, in case something unforeseen comes up.
So, say the new vanity in the bathroom has a defective door that’s discovered only upon its installation. Rather than inconvenience the customer by making her wait for a new door, Benkin says, “We’ll go ahead and replace the vanity because we have it in stock and we can deal with it later.”
Having the experience and the expertise helps Alure earn its customers’ confidence.
When homeowners purchase the five-day bathroom, for example, they know what day the project will begin and when it will end—even if the project is scheduled six weeks in advance.
“In Nassau we start on Monday and finish on Friday,” Benkin says. “In Suffolk we start on Tuesday and finish on Saturday.”
Not everything might qualify for a nationally televised unveiling, but for the homeowners who are tired of living with an outdated bathroom or kitchen, the transition can be a welcome extreme.