HOMEOWNERS AND THE PROCESSFebruary 18th, 2019 | by James Baldwin
We build high end, custom decks and other outdoor living spaces but we are not in the deck building business. We are in the people business.
From day one of the interview/hire process I tell someone looking to join our team, “here it’s not about what you can build, it’s how you build it”. That encompasses not just the process by which you physically build a structure but how we try and create an experience for our clients. I’ll be the first to admit we haven’t perfected this ‘system’ yet, but I know we’re on the right path. Why? Because our clients tell us, and more importantly tell their friends, family, and colleagues.
So what exactly am I talking about?? #1, we’re nice and polite to the homeowner. Seems pretty simple but every “yes ma’am” and “thank you” goes a long, long way. Homeowner can’t make it home to let the dog out, don’t worry we got your back. Have a bunch of cardboard boxes piling up in your garage, here we’ll throw them in our site dumpster. Need a little gravel around back to help with some existing drainage problems, sure we’ll grab an extra ton (at no charge) and spread it out for you. I’m sure some people are screaming about how I’m wasting time, man hours, and ultimately money and yep that’s probably true, but I don’t care. If it takes us 1-2 hours to make the experience of having us at your home a positive experience we’re going to do it every single time.
#2 we try to involve the homeowner as much as possible, remember this is THEIR project, THEIR home, THEIR money. Sure, we’re the pros and we know what materials perform best, what looks best aesthetically, and the list goes on. But at the end of the day we want them to be as much of the build as the guys slinging deck joists are. It gives the homeowner more of a sense of pride and ownership of their project. I view myself as mostly an information provider and a manager of that information for the client. It doesn’t always work that way, some homeowners just want to write you a check and stay out of the way and that’s fine too. But even those ‘hands off’ clients we’re constantly trying to get them to add their own touches into the project, something they can call “their idea”.
#3, and possibly the most important part of the experience…post build communication and follow up. Throughout the project we’re taking progress pictures and videos. Shots of things like flashing, deck hardware, and the ledger attachment the homeowner will never see or know about but we communicate back to them to let them know their money is well spent. After the projects is wrapped up I meet with the homeowner and present them with a binder that has a welcome message from us, warranty information, and chronological photos of the project. They also get a flash drive with every picture of the job (phone, drone, GoPro, etc) and an edited video of their project from start to finish. Why?? It makes it very easy for them to share with their friends via Facebook, IG, email, etc etc. In addition, we give them a pen, koozie (perfect for keeping drinks cold on your new deck!) and a small cooler typically with hamburgers/hot dogs and a note explaining that the first BBQ on the new deck is on us.
This isn’t for everybody, clearly. But in our line of work we work so closely with the homeowner that I want them to know we’re not ‘just’ a construction company. The goal is to create a customer service experience and process that they didn’t think possible, and certainly did not expect.