We're on the phone, chatting.

“People can't find folks to do this stuff,” he says. “They tell me it's hard to even get someone to call you back. We've had sales here because we were the only ones who showed up.”

Umhmmmm.

“I had one customer,” he says, “who, in the middle of her project, said to me: ‘Can you look at a couple of doors?' Her door was so far out of whack you could look through the frame and see daylight. She said: ‘It's like Alaska in here.' She marches me around the house. Nine doors need replacing. We go upstairs. She shows me a gable end wall, 16 feet wide and 14 feet high. Ten windows. She said: ‘I had a couple guys over to look at this. The one I liked didn't have his numbers together. Who do you think we should call?' We took her to a supplier's showroom. It's a $25,000 to $30,000 add-on, because people trust us.”

Umhmmmm.

“I got a warranty call recently,” he says. “A porch we built five years ago. She's scared to death I'm gonna tell her to shove off. We went over the next day and took care of it. Not a big deal. There were pinhole leaks where the roof touched the house. She'd noticed a few drops of water. Somebody I know heard about it. He says: ‘Why would you do that? Sending a guy out there and back takes hours.' I said: ‘Why wouldn't you do that? What do you think that's worth to the homeowner?' I did it because they spent good money and that's how I'd want to be treated.”

Umhmmmm.

“They're not just buying the results,” he says, “they're buying the process, the company. But you have to deliver those results in a way that's minimally disruptive. It's their castle. We don't want guys walking in and out of the house to use the bathroom. We put Porta-Johns on every job. Every one. Sometimes clients say: ‘It's OK. They can use the bathroom.' So what happens when tomorrow it rains, and there's four inches of mud out there?”

Umhmmmm.

“Most of the people we talk with now don't even ask us for references. And they're spending a lot of money. That's a relative term,” he says, “but we're talking about 20 or 30 grand. Why would they do it with us? Because somewhere they figured out that they could trust us to honor their wishes, their environment, and the notion that ultimately we will do the right thing.”

Umhmmmm.

Jim Cory
jcory@hanleywood.com
Editor