Customers Hire Those That Make Their Job Easy
Contractor tip of the month
By Damian Lang
I read a story about a phone company that had a lot of trouble with its systems, but offered tremendous customer service while fixing those problems. They stayed in constant contact with customers turning many upset customers into happy lifetime customers. While the competition had hardly any problems, they also had very little interaction with their customers. When it came time to change phone plans, guess who ended up getting most of the customers? You’re right, the company that had all the problems but great customer service! This tremendous service built rapport with their customers, and the excitement about what a wonderful phone company they were spread like wild fire, all because they “made their customers’ jobs easy!”
We all have problems on the job; it is the nature of our industry. As long as our leaders get out in front of those problems, difficult projects often build the very best long-term customer relationships. We have a very large brick job going on now that we just headed off a major problem on: Our brick supplier stopped production over the winter in an effort to save money without notifying us ahead of time. It is obvious that they were not aware that we would continue bricking right through the winter, using up the several thousand bricks they had already made.
Imagine our surprise when we had about 15,000 bricks left onsite, and they notified us that we would not get any more brick for another six weeks. This was a major gamble/mistake on their part in an attempt to save money by not running our bricks through the winter, and, potentially, a major disaster for us as this is a new customer and the tightest schedule we had ever had. Instead of hiding behind the issues and holding up the entire project, my operations manager called a meeting with the brick supplier, construction manager and the Ohio School Facilities Commission, and explained the issue. At the same time, he proposed a solution: submitting a substitute matching brick from another brick company, so the job could go on.
We made the customer’s job easy by offering an immediate solution. The job never missed a beat, and I am convinced that the tremendous attention the LMC team gave to this customer and district will build an everlasting relationship. In fact, the customer has already asked us to bid another job that we were not even aware of until he asked.
My 9-year-old daughter, Rachel, must know something about fixing problems in the early stage as she recently showed a great example of this. She just got an F on her midterm in science. Knowing I would be furious, she called me at work and said, “Dad, I’m probably never going to be a scientist anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I got an F on my midterm in science. Now, don’t worry about it dad as I know what went wrong. I never turned in my science project like I was supposed to and as soon as I get it turned in, my teacher says that F will become a B.”
What a smart kid, if I do say so myself. Rachel addressed the problem before I discovered it on my own, and laid out a plan to remedy it. Before I got home to discuss it with Rachel, I was already happy with her as she solved the problem without me having to deal with it. That made my job easy! I believe Rachel will be a good business person someday, if she keeps that capacity to fix issues for customers.
The bottom line is, if you have a problem, you have a tremendous opportunity to earn a customer for life by being creative and proactive, and having the courage to get in front of your customer with solutions. If you do, you might be like Rachel and turn your F into a B, and build customers for life by making their jobs easy in the meantime.
About the Author
Damian Lang is a mason contractor in southeast Ohio and inventor of many labor saving masonry systems and products. Lang has served as the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America. He is also author of the book Rewarding and Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry. To network with Damian on contractor tips or tips you have and would like published, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-749-3512.