Credit: Jeffrey Pelo

Customer service in the home improvement industry is no different from service in the hospitality industry. Great companies offer the highest level of care and respect for their customers while exceeding customers' expectations.

Exceeding expectations consists of doing the unexpected. Specifically, for our business, which is roofing, we pledge that our company will:

  • Set and achieve solid deadlines
  • Protect and prepare the home from start to finish
  • Clean up daily and leave the clients' home as clean as we found it
  • Accurately price jobs that are free from hidden costs
  • Avoid surprises by communicating throughout the job
  • POLE-VAULTING THE LOW BAR I came from a service background — before starting GreatWay Roofing, I was a banking executive — so I understand how important customer service is. And, when it comes to working with home improvement customers, I found that they didn't expect roofing contractors to show up on time, be able to articulate a solution based on their needs, or even type a proposal. So I set out to use this as my company's competitive advantage.

    It has been that. And changes in the market since then make exemplary customer service even more important. The sales cycle has shortened because technology causes people to expect things to happen faster and be informed earlier in the process. Quite simply, homeowners want more.

    COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY In the beginning we ask our clients several questions including their top concerns regarding property protection and about working with contractors. Most have never really stopped to think about these before. But once they do, they quickly list a number of concerns.

    A huge point is communication. After signing, a customer receives a phone call from our front office explaining the next steps. We mail a letter confirming the homeowner's material selection and color, and a “preparation for re-roof” checklist. We follow up with an anticipated start date, all within days of signup. We then call the week before, letting them know the actual start date.

    If our jobs last longer than one day, we clean up daily.

    Communication continues with jobs in progress:

  • Our production manager is the customer's main source of communication. However, our foreman stays in contact with the customer if he's on-site; so does the original estimator who sold the job.
  • The production manager is the point person to handle a customer complaint about a particular job. If necessary, it could go to me as the owner. We jump on all complaints immediately.
  • Our crew members are employees. The checklist we use ties safety, quality, and service to a bonus awarded on each job. This distinguishes us from roofing companies that rely on independent contractors and also helps us to manage projects and customer service procedures.
  • REBRANDING The concept of superb customer service was at the forefront when we started the business. We wanted it to remain the key impression when we went through a major rebranding effort a few years ago, which resulted in our new company name and logo. Customers have greater service expectations for contractors than they ever did, roofing contractors included. We're proud of the record we have in this realm. —Rod Menzel is president and co-founder of GreatWay Roofing, in the Greater Los Angeles area.

    Does your company have a business practice or installation technique to share with the industry? Call Jim Cory at 215.923.9810 or e-mail