The Bobbys lead Atlas Home Improvement, which caters to the baby-boomer generation.
AS THE NUMBER OF SENIORS in the United States continues to skyrocket, home centers are doing all they can to ramp up for the onslaught of demand for senior-centric products. For Atlas Home Improvement of Whitmore Lake, Michigan, that includes spreading the word about its new product offerings to customers who stand to benefit from them the most.
“It is a daily process trying to find ways to connect with the senior audience,” David Bobby says. “We do a lot of face-to-face marketing, and we are in different shows and events that cater to seniors.”
Atlas Home Improvement is family owned and operated by the father-son duo of David and Darian Bobby. The company’s origins date back to 1989 when David became a licensed builder and launched The House Doctor, his own handyman business catering to southeastern Michigan. One of the services David offered was window cleaning, which Darian took up as his entry into the home maintenance business.
Darian started his own business – The Window Doctor – in the summer of 1992. Within a few years, Darian had built a base of over 1,000 regular customers.
Many of these customers would ask Darian if he or his crews could clean out their gutters while they were up on the ladders. Realizing screens were an ineffective solution, Darian met with Gutter Helmet, eventually accepting the franchise for Livingston County, Michigan, in 1999 – three months shy of graduating from Michigan State University. Atlas soon became best known for Gutter Helmet, with Darian serving as the youngest dealer in the United States at 23.
Darian soon had enough business to get his father involved as a partner to better keep up with demand. Gutter Helmet gave the duo the Washtenaw County, Michigan, franchise, as well, and in 2003, David and Darian were honored at the National Gutter Helmet Convention in Florida as the top performing Gutter Helmet dealer in the United States.
David and Darian soon realized they needed to expand their operations into areas of home improvement beyond gutter guards to better serve their clients. This led to the addition of gutter installation capabilities, including on-site custom fabrication. Atlas Home Improvement also began offering vinyl siding, insulation and ventilation and, eventually, a professional roofing division.
Despite the addition of these capabilities, Atlas Home Improvement’s revenue streams were too seasonal to keep its employees in place year-round. For this reason, the Bobbys added Bathwraps, which are premium acrylic tubs and showers that have a wall system that can be installed over existing tile walls in about one day.
Most recently, Atlas Home Improvement has focused on the needs of the senior citizen demographic by becoming Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS). This is an especially booming demographic considering, according to Darian Bobby, 12,000 people become a senior citizen every day in the United States, and he says this trend will continue over the next 30 years.
“A lot of our products center around safety,” Darian Bobby says.
For example, due to the dangers older homeowners or anyone recovering from an injury face when using a traditional bathtub, Atlas Home Improvement now specializes in walk-in safety bathtubs with a door. The product allows the user to safely take a bath while minimizing the risk of falling. Atlas Home Improvement is the authorized Jacuzzi walk-in tub dealer for Michigan. They are also the dealer for Easy Climber Stair Lifts to help seniors get from one floor of the home to another while avoiding the dangers of climbing steps.
Atlas Home Improvement has had to alter how it markets its services to better reach the senior demographic, as well. David says the company dispatches its senior liaisons to senior centers, bingo halls and other events to host free safety conferences that show the options available to keep aging adults in the homes they love while living a safe lifestyle.
“We’ll educate senior homeowners about the different products that help with safety in the home, which we consider a public service because this is an important audience for us,” Darian says. “We want to remain credible for that audience.”
Centralized Call Center
Aside from expanding its product offerings, Atlas Home Improvement also is improving the way it caters to clients.
Five years ago, the company opened a call center, now staffed with between four and eight agents to field calls with an inside sales mentality. In the past, many home centers like Atlas have relied on secretaries attempting to perform these tasks on top of a bevy of other duties, which simply didn’t work.
“Someone who is doing the books and processing jobs sees incoming phone calls as a nuisance distracting them from doing their job properly,” David says. “Considering this is the lifeblood of a company, most companies have the wrong people answering their phones.
“We use people with inside sales-type personalities who are good on the phone and good people persons taking calls and setting appointments,” David adds.
Despite constantly adding new capabilities and products to their offerings, the Bobbys realize the growth of Atlas Home Improvement must be at a steady pace.
“We have to be careful not to grow too quickly,” Darian says. “We are very focused on what we call controlled growth, which has continued for the last five years as we’ve grown between 20 and 25 percent each year. We think that’s a good pace.”