A residential design firm dedicated to
improve home improvement
with efficient, effective communication.
In a recent article on Customer Service in the remodeling world, it was found that customer service seems to be a lost art. We can all bemoan those problems, or we can do something about it.
A search on Facebook or Twitter can yield conflicting reports. Many companies are creating their “Facebook fan club” or tweeting about the latest product or project. Yet recently, some friends on Facebook replied to a question about their first thoughts on “remodeling”. The responses ranged from “expensive” to “dirty” and “tiring”.
So, if you want to update your home, and you aren’t planning to do it yourself (or maybe you will hire part of it to be done), how does one select a contractor? Selecting based on price will almost always lead you in the wrong direction! But how else can we base our decision?
In Remodeling: Where did Customer Service go? three questions were raised as a starter to answer the question of how to select a contractor. 1) Did the person listen to me, 2) can they prove it, and 3) do they have a system that repeats this process?
First, empower yourself by remembering that this kitchen project, bathroom project, family room addition, or whatever are dreaming is your dream and your project! It is not intentional on the part of contractors and/or designers to talk so much; we just love what we do, and wish to share that with everyone. During the interview, ask yourself, did this professional listen to your needs and goals. Did he or she ask pertinant questions about your needs and goals, or just focus on the project? Remember this, a professional is there to serve you, not your kitchen upgrade. In other words, the kitchen upgrade is not the professional’s focus (ie: “I’ve done some great cabinets, and I’m sure you want granite with stainless steel appliances right?”). On a side note, please notice how many times the person you interview puts him or herself at the beginning of the sentence. Instead a professional will ask what you dream to do in this area; the feeling you want to evoke, and the level of detail you want included. A professional will gently guide you thru the process of selection without overwhelming you.
Closely tied with the question of “did s/he listen to me” is the question of “do you have substantial proof that the professional listened to you?” In otherwords, watch for a meeting recap within a day or so of your meeting in your email. A professional can articulate the basic needs you presented and return that to you in a written form. This helps you know for sure that this person was listening, and has it written down to refer to your goals later during the process. When designing a project, our standard procedure requires that we review “the list” to assure we’ve heard our clients wishes. Depending upon our memory will sink us every time.
Returning the notes to you also gives you the opportunity to correct any mis-perceptions of your needs.
Third, and lastly, be watching for an underlying system that is repeatable. During any project – no matter the size or price – communication is vital to the success of your project. This goes back to the first point – empower yourself! At every point of contact, is the person friendly, helpful, and know how talk with you?
When ABC company promises to return your calls, do they? When there is a meeting, is that person on time, and do they come prepared? Has ABC company sent you a meeting agenda prior to the meeting, or use one during the meeting? Do they use technology (not just email) to coordinate your needs, their staff, and any vendors or sub-contractors for this project? Can ABC company give you the assurance that they’ve carefully reviewed all options on your project? Do they ask about your comfortable financial investment range?
By using a system such as would answer these questions will show you that the person you interviewed is a professional.