Next Door & Window will receive the Replacement Contractor Service Excellence Award at the 2012 Replacement Contractor Executive Conference taking place in Las Vegas, Feb. 23-24. Awards are based on results from GuildQuality, the construction customer survey company.
Replacement Contractor: Your customers seem to like doing business with you. Why?
Justin Bartley: When we talk to prospects on the phone, we really try to understand what their needs are. It starts there. We make sure that their problems and needs are aligned with what we offer. And we offer a lot.
RC: Next Door & Window is strictly a doors and windows company, correct?
JB: We only do door and window replacement projects for homeowners. We carry a range of products from vinyl inserts to composites to fiberglass to wood to wood-clad. So, we are totally focused on them. All our people know who they work for, every day. All our systems are set up that way. One result is that we don't lose focus on that customer. And we're proactive in communicating with them, by email, phone, and postcard.
RC: Describe what happens after the homeowner signs the contract.
JB: We have specialists who go out to measure all the windows and doors. When they come back, we have our head installation manager review all the installation orders and assign these to project managers. We send customers a postcard introducing the project manager, and we follow up with a phone call. The project managers engage with customers throughout. The best thing is that customers know who [the project managers] are and that they can call them anytime between the order and the install. That's a period when people can feel a little out of touch. With us, they're fully engaged.
RC: How has your system evolved?
JB: Two years ago we decided to really put a lot of emphasis on that period between getting the order and closing the job. GuildQuality helped us understand where we needed to tweak or reinvent our system. It's not like people are going to call and tell you where you could improve. We found that for customers, communication, overall, was lacking.
RC: How important is post-installation service?
JB: It's critical. That's the other part of the service equation. Problems are common with replacement projects. Something happens and we have the resources to address them immediately, i.e., within 24 hours. And if it's not something we can do within 24 hours, we'll follow up to make sure that customers are completely happy. We fix whatever's wrong even if it's not something in the contract.
We see this as a big problem in the industry. Companies are geared up to do the install, but they don't have the resources to follow up and drive it home, so that the customer is completely happy.
RC: Is this a big competitive advantage for you?
JB: It's huge because the reality is that 48% of our business comes from repeat and referral. So we know that people are out there talking about us. That's a huge advantage. They're using social media, the review sites, and others to talk about us. I feel that in this economic environment, the companies that have the stellar service are the ones that survive. You can no longer tell people how good you are. They're going to go online and check you out on their own.
RC: Are you installing with your own employees?
JB: We have a 50/50 mix, half employees, half subcontractors. All our service people are our own, and some of our window crews. Our two main crews have been with us nine years. We found, especially with doors, that you have to be really proficient and expert at installing. So we send installers to Therma-Tru installation classes. Same with our in-house service crews. If you don't have in-house service crews, you can't provide a high level of service. If Mrs. Jones calls and says she can't get her door closed or locked, you can't very well say: Oh, we'll have somebody out there later this week.
RC: Does the fact that some of your crews are subcontractors limit your ability to control them and therefore your company's service delivery?
JB: Using subcontractors does make a difference. You do have limitations. We've laid down guidelines, but we can't specifically tell them how to do their jobs.
—Jim Cory is editor of REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR.