As 2 Cabinet Girls continues to grow, lots of things seem to get more complicated. One thing that I refuse to allow to get left behind is an unbending commitment to clear, concise communication with our customers. Our goal is to have every customer say, “That was the best experience I’ve ever had!”
We’ve all probably had a less than amazing experience with a contractor. Usually, contractor problems stem from bad communication. In fact, most problems in life are communication problems. When the plumber tells you, “I’ll be by next week”, but won’t get more specific. The electrician who says, “I’ll swing by tomorrow morning.” and then shows up at noon.
We understand that sometimes life kicks you in the shins and plans change, but why make a customer suffer? Is there anyone left who doesn’t send and receive text messages? If there is, I bet they at least have a phone. Letting customers know what’s happening is the easiest way in the world to build trust and prove that you care about them.
A few years ago we added a feature to the website called the Ballpark Estimator. It allows visitors to put in the number of cabinets they need to be painted and we spit back out a price. We don’t demand an email or phone number or anything, because sometimes people just want an idea of the cost of something!
Honestly, it works for both sides. If they were expecting the job to be $200, then it’s helpful that I didn’t spend lots of time with them only to find out their budget later. For the customer, they don’t want to set aside time to talk about something they won’t buy. It’s win-win.
Most importantly, once someone gets the ballpark estimate, everyone involved feels more comfortable because “price” isn’t an 800-pound gorilla looming in the corner.
Jobs that cost more than the quote
Once we’ve started a job we’ve never had to tell a customer, “we just found something unexpected, so we have to charge you more.” There’s one main reason we’ve been able to avoid that problem. It’s our job to give a quote that’s accurate BEFORE we start painting. If something was missed, that’s on us, not the homeowner.
There have been a few times when a job goes sideways and we end up not making any profit. Obviously we try to keep those to a minimum, but in the end, as long as the customer is happy, then we’re happy.
Jobs with mistakes or problems
Here’s my second shocking statement, we’re human and make mistakes. Sometimes the girls are not as diligent as normal and drips are not cleaned up or debris from the tarp doesn’t get swept up completely. We all have those days where our mind is on some other life event.
When those calls come to me, my answer is always the same. “No worries, we’ll schedule someone to come out and take care of it.” A day or two later, the problem is solved and the homeowner is satisfied.
There have been times when I’ve been called and I am 99.9% sure it’s not our problem at all, but we still go out and do the best we can to fix the problem. Because in the end, when a customer is talking to their friends, we want every story to end with, “…but they took care of everything.“
Tips for other contractors
Just like Volvo shared the 3-point seatbelt with all the other car manufacturers, I’d like to share some of our customer service “secrets”.
The initial request we get is almost always via the Internet in some fashion. We usually get back to that person the same day and have a general quote in their hands within 24 hours. Because we can generate a quote without having to visit in-person, it makes this first step quick and easy for us and the potential customers.
Keep Customers in the Loop
If a potential customer is comfortable with the email quote, I go out and meet with them in person at their home. This gives them a chance to see me in person and decide if I seem trustworthy and competent. I lug a bag full of sample doors that I’ve painted with different sheens and colors and add-ons. We go over their vision, the undertones in their kitchen and what will look best and then take a deposit to get them on our schedule. When I get back to the office, I update the quote with all of that information and give them the specific dates and times when we’ll be at their home in an email.
Reminders, reminder, reminders
The time between deposit and starting on a job is usually about a month. During that time dates and times can get foggy, so the day before we remove the doors and drawer fronts to bring back to the shop to spray, we email the homeowner and remind them. In that email, we make sure to not only tell them that we’re coming the next day but also a window of time. Unless it’s our first of the day, which is at 9 am, our crew will text the homeowner when they are leaving the previous job to let them know they are on the way and also give them an exact ETA (thanks Google Maps).
The same process is followed when we send out the paint crew a few days later and again a few days after that when we return to install the freshly-painted cabinet doors.
Focus on the Customer
Although this seems like the easiest and most simple of all, it’s the hardest for many contractors. It’s tempting to be focused on 17 other things that won’t matter while forgetting that an unhappy customer is the worst of all things.
An unhappy customer will never use you again. An unhappy customer will poison your brand to friends and neighbors. An unhappy customer may leave bad online reviews that impact people you will then never even have a chance with.
If you have read this far and know of a local contractor that is doing high-quality, customer-centric work let us know – because we want to partner with them. Leave some details in the comments below.
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