Choosing the right contractor...

WHEN CHOOSING A CONTRACTOR, LOOK FOR THE LITTLE THINGS


At Stephens Contracting LLC, we perform something we refer to as a “post mortem” at the completion of each job. It’s the backbone of our Quality Control process because we can never truly attain perfection, but we should be expected to strive for such daily. This process evaluates the entire project - - meaning the entire customer experience.


Even after more than twenty-five years in the business, we are constantly in awe of how it is little things that make the biggest difference. On a recent post mortem, I asked the customer simply why they chose me. It’s a humbling question, but essential because I need to know what I do right and what I do wrong. I received the following response:


1) You called us back the same day. It’s astounding how many times we call someone, and they tell us we are the fourth or fifth contractor called, but the first to actually return a phone call.


2) You showed up when you said you would.This one is even more mystifying because we work hard to find new customers, get new jobs, and do such correctly. Why would I not show up when given the privilege of an appointment?


3) You took your shoes off upon entering our home.That’s habit for me beaten into my soul from generations before me. It’s a reflex to treat a customer’s home like my own. If I didn’t, not only would I be out of business, but the women in my life might make me homeless for such breeches of etiquette.


4) You identified yourself with a business card, the logo on your shirt, and a properly marked truck which all bore the same logo.That credit goes to my marketing department. We strive to present a consistent brand image, but it also transcends to recognizing we are strangers coming to your door seeking to be recognized as trustworthy professionals.


5) You were clean, and your truck was clean.Does this really need further explanation? Of course, I’m clean, and yes, we keep our trucks clean and in good condition.


6) You provided me with choices and an education on each and let me choose what worked best for me. Well yes, it’s your house and your project and who would know better what works best for my customer – other than my customer.


7) You started on the day you said you would start. Another shocker for me. I have to manage multiple projects and dozens of employees. I know where I am going to be and when. How else does one run a business?


8) Your employees were in uniform, very polite, and cleaned up at the end of each day.Our employees understand they are the first line emissaries of our brand. Their personal skills are just as important as their professional skills. This particular customer had a habit of feeding my employees several times a week because they adopted one of my crews. That’s trust earned and appreciated.


9) When weather impacted our project, you communicated clearly when the project would resume.Yes, it goes back to scheduling and as much as we wish we could control the rain, we can’t. At Stephens Contracting LLC, it’s a matter of simple communication to our customers.

10)When the project was completed, you took the time to meet with us and go over every stage from beginning to end and guaranteed your work.Again, this is part of our quality control process and is a standard for us. What did we do right? What did we do wrong?


Funny thing about the above customer, I met with them initially to discuss hardscaping a small patio. Two years later and we’ve completed a paver patio four times the original size, a paver driveway, multiple retaining walls, a deck running the length of the back of the house, fencing throughout the entire backyard, a firepit, a swimming pool, an outdoor kitchen with seating for twenty-four people, two gazebos, several retaining walls, several walkways, a swimming pool, multiple sidewalks, a bulkhead along their lake, a private beach, and a variety of raised beds for shrubs and flowers. And it all started with a phone call I returned the same day, arriving on time with proper identification, and respecting their home as if it was mine.


So, if you know someone struggling with how to choose the right contactor, suggest they look at the small things first. It’s the sum of these observations that give a total picture.

From the desk of Brent Stephens


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