2018 GuildQuality Customer Satisfaction Leaders, Part 3

by Kacey Larsen

Improvement Zone

Severna Park, Md.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 97.06%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 26
Type of Firm: Full-service Remodeler + Home Improvement/Replacement

  • Approach to problem resolution: Communication is a cornerstone of success in any business. Our work scopes are written very specifically so clients know what we plan to do, with what materials and how long it will take. Taking the extra step to include details in the written work scope (which is available at all jobsites) also eliminates misunderstandings. Over the years we have established systems and procedures; if something is working, we stick with it until it no longer works, [then] systems and procedures evolve but not haphazardly. We trust our staff to make jobsite decisions that are mutually beneficial to the client and business. Trusting our on-site crews has resulted in more pride in their work, more loyalty to the company and faster resolution for the client.
  • Challenging job type: Without hesitation, our most difficult jobs have been FHA 203ks. Client expectations of the amount of work needed, the cost, the time involved and what can be done with the funds available are often unrealistic. With one exception, we haven’t found a solution to make FHA 203k [home improvement loan projects] enticing to our staff or crews. For the near future, we will not be working in this segment of the remodeling industry.
  • Using recommend rate: The GuildQuality reviews and comments we receive are posted to our website, along with our Guildmaster awards. Actions speak for themselves in the field, and words are carefully chosen on the phone and in written communication. We work hard every day to fulfill our mission: Improvement Zone exists to assist owners with the repair, improvement and maintenance of their properties. We provide knowledge, expertise and experience to produce excellent, quality work and superior customer service. We want Improvement Zone to be known in the property repair, improvement and maintenance industry for honesty and integrity.

Irons Brothers Construction

Shoreline, Wash.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 97.46%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017:23
Type of Firm: Design/Build + Full-service Remodeler

  • Approach to problem resolution: We teach our team to be proactive instead of reactive; this means that we encourage them to plan ahead and communicate with clients early and often. Best practice is to communicate with our clients prior to problems and/or concerns arising, so we can offer practical solutions and options to ensure the best outcome with the least impact on budget and schedule.
  • Challenging job type: We specialize in kitchens, bathrooms, whole-home remodels, aging-in-place and additions. Once the drywall is up, [clients] are excited and want to be done and using the space, but it’s all the details that go into the trim phase that make [a project] longer than clients want or expect. So it is not project type—it is usually the length of the project that drives their satisfaction level down. We are managing our clients’ interactions daily, and determining how each one of them uniquely would like to have communication from us. Best practice for us during construction is to have a single point of contact for day-to-day communication, their project manager. This allows them to create a relationship with the on-site carpenter and go to them directly with their concerns.
  • Using recommend rate: We use our GuildQuality and Guildmaster award on our website—both as a selling tool and also a reinforcement of our reputation and service. Under our website references, we have the GuildQuality page embedded and it is current to the minute. On our company Facebook and Twitter accounts, we communicate the reviews and testimonials. In our in-person sales meetings we discuss our GuildQuality report and ratings when reviews, references and/or testimonials are requested. The best part about GuildQuality is that the reviews are from our post-construction clients giving real-time feedback that not only helps our team but our future clientele. In comparison, we educate them on the fact that other online reviews are not necessarily our own clients, but the public in general. Therefore, this muddy’s the water on the actual level of service we are providing our clients.

John Anderson Building Contractor, Inc.

Tampa, Fla.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 100%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 15
Type of Firm: Home Improvement/Replacement

  • Approach to problem resolution: We communicate with our customers during every step of the sales, contract and job execution cycles. We develop relationships with them so they know they can talk to us anytime and we are open to changes when requested. We also get as much in writing as we can to make sure there are no miscommunications. We require our leads to not only be good carpenters but also good with our customers. Having guys on-site that customers are comfortable with is important to us, and it ensures [customers] know there is nothing that goes wrong that we can’t or won’t fix.
  • Challenging job type: We have not really run into any jobs that we’ve not received high satisfaction ratings. The potential is higher during more complicated jobs but, by ensuring excellent communication throughout the job, we’ve never had a bad review.
  • Using recommend rate: We link to our GuildQuality reviews on our webpage. By the time we are contacted, most potential customers know who we are and the quality of work we provide.

Johnson County Siding & Window Co., Inc.

Olathe, Kan.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 100%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 109
Type of Firm: Home Improvement/Replacement

  • Approach to problem resolution: We execute a well thought-out process from the first point of contact for delivering results that are 100 percent reliable. With our years of experience, we’ve honed a consistent process to provide the client with a superb experience with every siding, window and door project. Here’s what the client can expect: 1) Our process begins with a meeting at the client’s home to discuss the scope of their exterior remodeling project and to see what they’d like to accomplish. We ask questions and listen to their needs and desires so we can help them achieve their long-term goals and maximize the beauty, value and energy efficiency of their home. 2) The next step is to provide the client with a comprehensive written free estimate and proposal which clearly outlines the materials to be installed and the scope of work. 3) The homeowner works closely with an in-house design consultant to select the best materials, colors and textures that will enhance the design and architecture of their home. We utilize design software, idea books, photo galleries and real material samples to help them choose the ideal products. 4) They will be connected with a senior project manager to ensure installation goes smoothly. The salespeople will also stay in close contact with the client and installation team during their project to address any questions, concerns, etc. 5) It’s important to our JOCO Siding & Window Team for the client’s home to look beautiful and feel like home after we leave. We clean up after every project with one goal in mind: to leave their property cleaner than we found it!
  • Challenging job type: Utilizing a well thought-out process from the first point of contact to the final delivery of our services has very positively impacted the level of satisfaction our clients experience. The process is followed with every client and is easy for every team member to execute. This results in high levels of customer satisfaction with each & every project.
  • Using recommend rate: Our company has pages on our website dedicated to our reputation as well as social media to verify our credentials, customer satisfaction and recommendation rates. Much of our customer base is internet-driven, and our high levels of satisfaction and recommendation rates lead our potential clients to contact us for the first time. Before we meet with the potential client in-person, we mail them a “Contractor’s Guide” created by our company, outlining the awards we have earned due to the level of satisfaction our customers experience.

Karlovec & Company Design/Build Remodel

Shaker Heights, Ohio
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 99.17%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 12
Type of Firm: Design/Build + Full-service Remodeler

  • Approach to problem resolution: Setting the stage for a positive client experience is one of the keys to our success. Our “concept to completion” business model is predicated on us taking responsibility for all of the design, planning and production components of the projects we take on. We consider ourselves problem-solvers above all else, which means our approach is proactive and thorough. Our team is trained to ask the right questions at the right time, which ultimately lead to the right answers. And if a problem occurs, we immediately apply our team’s resources and focus on solutions that serve the client well. It’s very much a team approach with a common thread that runs through the company during all project phases.
  • Challenging job type: Our client satisfaction scores have always been consistently high, because we apply the same methodology and use the same team members on all of our projects. However, kitchen and bath projects require such a high level of design, planning, detail execution and client communication that we have to work extra hard to stay out in front of every detail while communicating effectively every step of the way. Being without a kitchen or bathroom for an extended period of time is hard on clients, so there’s a baked-in level of stress on those projects that is higher than on other types of remodels.
  • Using recommend rate: We take the GuildQuality survey process very seriously. It’s fundamental to our business model and is something that is discussed with prospective clients immediately after they contact us. We take pride in our consistently great feedback, and we use that information to communicate what to expect while working with us. History is the best indicator of future performance in this industry, and the numerical rankings, along with written feedback, are genuine and explain very well why we’re different than the competition.

Kotch’s Windows N More

Brighton, Mich.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 100%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 125
Type of Firm: Home Improvement/Replacement

  • Approach to problem resolution: To avoid having problems, check and double check all measurements and any paperwork. If there is an error or mistake, get on it ASAP and resolve it to customer’s satisfaction.
  • Challenging job type: All remodels or improvements can be tough to earn your customer’s satisfaction. Just do what you say you’re going to do, and do it with [an] attention to detail.
  • Using recommend rate: I suggest all customers look [GuildQuality reviews] up online and see for themselves.

LEFF Construction Design Build

Sebastopol, Calif.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 94.32%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 23
Type of Firm: Design/Build

  • Approach to problem resolution: The biggest problem facing remodelers is when a client, after working for many hours with an architect, puts their project out to bid with a number of contractors, only to find that the job comes in significantly over budget. At best the project will have to be redesigned at considerable time and expense or, at worst, completely abandoned. It is almost always the result of a lack of early collaboration between the architect and contractor that results in this outcome. We have developed a design/build process where our senior designers and architects ask for and learn clients’ budgets before they start designing; then the team process is to “design to the budget.” As soon as a conceptual design has been developed, we prepare a preliminary but accurate cost estimate which becomes the first reality test of the design. If this preliminary estimate comes in within the client’s stated budget range, we can move forward with the production of detailed construction documents and final material selections. If it comes in over the budget, we can value engineer the design before much time and money has been spent on a design that is too expensive. Our designers are trained in building techniques and costs, so hey remain constantly aware of the cost implications of design options they are presenting. There is no  disconnect between the design and the budget throughout the design process.
  • Challenging job type: The projects that seems to be the toughest to earn high satisfaction are not of a specific type—rather they are projects for which finish material and fixture selections are not made prior to the start of the project. We encourage clients to work with our interior designers to make all finish selections in advance. If selections are not made in the beginning of the design process, problems can arise due to lead time issues or the need to rework a design because of particular requirements of the material or fixture, [so] delaying the selections process acts like a domino effect. Our solution is to make it a firm policy to not start a project until all selections have been made.  If clients still insist on waiting, they must agree to accept responsibility for any impact on the budget or the schedule.
  • Using recommend rate: At the start of any project, we show clients a sample of the GuildQuality questionnaire and explain we will be sending the survey to them at the end of the project. We ask them to let us know if at anytime during the course of the project we are doing something that would cause them to give us less than a score of four on any of the survey questions. That way we can fix the problem before it becomes too serious, and it provides us with an opportunity to turn a potential problem into solutions that demonstrate high-quality customer service. We post GuildQuality client comments on our website, and we talk about our GuildQuality satisfaction scores during sales calls.

Legacy Builders Group

Cincinnati, Ohio
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 100%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 15
Type of Firm: Design/Build

  • Approach to problem resolution: Avoiding problems starts with being intentional about what we do and having a proven process we walk all of our clients through. On the front end in sales and design, we collaborate with our clients on each and every detail of a job, and provide them with very detailed plans and project specifications. This gives the owners comfort in knowing they were heard and alleviates assumptions that lead to problems. One of our core values of a company is “client focused.” We spend a lot of time talking about this with our team in production and company meetings. We talk about certain scenarios that arise and work through how to handle them with a client focus. Keeping this core value top-of-mind is essential for us to maintain a high satisfaction level with our clients.
  • Challenging job type: Additions are the toughest projects for us to earn high satisfaction. Additions are typically much more intrusive to our clients, with yards and driveways often completely out of commission; tie-in usually means a large portion of the house is opened up to the elements for a time; and the weather can wreak havoc on a construction schedule. During the design and planning stage, we talk about the intrusive nature of the project, and discuss and collaborate on ways we can make them most comfortable. Our project managers build upon this at the preconstruction meeting by talking about the roller coaster of emotions in the course of a remodel. We assure them we are here to serve them and encourage them to call us anytime they are starting to feel anxious about the project.
  • Using recommend rate: We have a link on our website to GuildQuality, and we do a monthly enewsletter that will contain a client quote and link from one of the GuildQuality surveys. Our leads will receive an email with a link to the GuildQuality surveys. Client quotes and all GuildQuality awards we receive are promoted on social media. Our sales team has a process portfolio we use to educate our clients on our design/build approach to remodeling, and within it there is a section about GuildQuality surveys and our rating. This prompts our sales team to discuss our client satisfaction marks.

Leo Lantz Construction, Inc.

Glen Allen, Va.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 100%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 37
Type of Firm: Full-service Remodeler

  • Approach to problem resolution: Our problem resolution begins during the design phase of our projects. We explain to our clients the realities of remodeling and stress an open line of communications between them, our tradesmen and our team. If a problem occurs, we want to hear about it ASAP. Our employees are taught to provide a correct answer or listen to the clients needs, acknowledge the problem [and] then defer a response until the correct answer can be provided.
  • Challenging job type: Our toughest projects are kitchens, because they are the heart of the home and the inconvenience to the clients is dramatic. We communicate more with these clients and do little things to ease their inconvenience, such as hooking up a temporary sink and alternate cooking facilities.
  • Using recommend rate: We suggest to potential clients that they examine our online third-party reviews and speak to our client reference list in addition to other contractor interview homework when selecting a contractor. We set our company to a higher standard by being recognized as a NARI Accredited Remodeling Company. Their third-party review process thoroughly examined our company procedures, safety guidelines, financials, professional development and job performance. We were the second company in the country to receive this designation and the only one in Virginia.

Lovette Construction

Birmingham, Ala.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 98.77%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 17
Type of Firm: Design/Build

  • Approach to problem resolution: The main point we drive home with our people is constant communication. When a problem arises, we don’t send an email or a text message; we pick up the phone, call our client, explain the situation and always have a solution ready for them when we do this. So many things can get lost in translation or misunderstood through emails or text messages. Face-to-face or phone conversations are way more effective in problem resolution.
  • Challenging job type: I think window replacements are probably the toughest job simply because there seems to always be that unknown of rot repair, etc., and there is no real “wow factor” for the client when the job is complete like there is in a kitchen remodel. We try to set expectations with the client and prepare them for the unknowns.
  • Using recommend rate: We have our reviews listed on our website as well as on our Facebook page. We also mention them in all of our print communications with the clients and have our Guildmaster awards hanging in our conference room for new prospects to see.

McBride Construction, Inc.

Petoskey, Mich.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 100%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 82
Type of Firm: Design/Build + Full-service Remodeler

  • Approach to problem resolution: We like to keep our customers constantly informed during the whole remodeling process, start to finish. This ensures, if an issue arises, they are kept apprised of the situation with solutions given to resolve the problem. We keep our employees trained to handle issues by going through the proper steps for a resolution. They will involve the proper trades and internal personnel to handle the situation in a timely manner. Either the employee and/or the production manager contact the client directly to inform them of the situation and a plan for appropriately resolving the issue.
  • Challenging job type: Insurance repairs. This tends to become an issue only due to the insurance companies’ involvement. When it is necessary to complete these type of projects, we attempt to anticipate any type of problem that may arise. We also stay in constant contact with the adjustor to ensure timely processing of the claim. The entire time the customer is kept up-to-date with correspondence and pictures.
  • Using recommend rate: We actively market that we have a high recommendation rate and a high number of repeat customers. They come back time after time for the high quality of craftsmanship, level of customer care and communication, dust control services and scheduling. These all lend a hand in creating the McBride difference that has clients wanting to come back to complete other projects.

McClurg Remodeling

Marcellus, N.Y.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 98.68%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 98.67%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 496
Type of Firm: Design/Build + Full-service Remodeler + Home Improvement/Replacement

  • Approach to problem resolution: Customer service is priority for us. We do our best to make sure each project is well managed by our team members, constantly checking details and communicating with each other and with our clients. Our philosophy is to consult and educate our clients upfront—no matter the job size—as well as throughout the entire project, start to finish. If an unexpected problem occurs, we train our employees to be honest and inform the client about the problem right away, take ownership of any error, and explain how the problem will be resolved.
  • Challenging job type: The toughest client satisfaction projects are related to rot repair. Often, these projects are expensive and timely repairs that offer little to no major cosmetic change. These projects are handled, in most cases, on a time and material basis with an investigation process to help determine not only the cause but the correct solution. This process is clearly explained to our clients when they initially call our office for a consultation, and then reiterated by the project consultant at the first appointment.
  • Using recommend rate: Our sales team often references our job satisfaction scores during appointments. This allows our potential clients to learn more about our reputation, work ethic and various projects we have completed in the surrounding area. Many clients also read our customer reviews found online.

Murphy Bros. Design | Build | Remodel

Minneapolis, Minn.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 93.02%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 93.55%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 117
Type of Firm: Design/Build

  • Approach to problem resolution: In 2016, we began a communications journey of sorts to formally measure and track satisfaction at three key stages in our remodeling projects—at design, mid-construction and at punch-list. We did this to identify potential areas of dissatisfaction before they got out of hand or too far gone to reverse the experience. We also added a communications checklist—our first—to set expectations among all the players: carpenters, sales, project managers and clients. In 2017, we learned this initial effort required some adjustments. The three key stage mini-surveys didn’t always go out on time, because that execution was left to our high demand project managers to release them through the Buildertrend software. This is the ugly side of business growth that nobody talks about—too often only the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The solution was to set it up as an automatic release at the three key stages based on Buildertrend calendar milestones. We found that no amount of automation can make up for the personal touch of a lead carpenter or project manager personally asking if they completed the mid-construction survey. This is also why we went old school and printed branded blank notecards that carpenters and project managers could leave behind to let clients, who are often not home during working hours, know we had been there.
    “To help encourage (train) different teams to share expectations and levels of satisfaction, either among the Murphy Bros. teams or among clients, we periodically bring in our production staff into our sales meetings to discuss their perspectives on how we are working together and how we are treating our clients. “It got lively a couple of times, “ recalls Murphy, but in the end I think it helped a lot in building a better understanding of the friction points in the remodeling process,”. “We also spent a portion of every weekly sales meeting devoted to stories of communications and expectations gone awry so that we can learn from each other. “I suppose it may seem a bit risky, but we really encourage the sharing of failures or misadventures,” explains Murphy. “Personally, I think you can learn a great deal more from a crash and burn than you can from a slam dunk.”
  • Challenging job type: Without question, the hardest client to satisfy is the homeowner experiencing storm, fire or water damage and the confusing world of insurance restoration. When storms hit the Twin Cities in June 2017, most of us were caught off-guard by the widespread severity. Add to that the recovering remodeling market as a whole, and you pretty much had the perfect storm [with] rising material and labor costs, lack of reliable skilled labor, our own doubling of non-storm related inquiries, and an internal staff shortage in every area. In many cases it was the insurance adjuster who was also overwhelmed, which further delayed what is already an inherently slow process. The solution was to modify the survey Murphy Bros. sends to insurance jobs to measure only what the company has complete control over.
  • Using recommend rate: In 2017, we used our customer satisfaction score in our primary sales presentation piece. We also used the two GuildQuality five- and 10-star ratings badges in blogs and email campaigns to tell that story. In addition, we also blogged about our Top 60 Satisfaction rating by Qualified Remodeler during our 2017 marketing campaign. Our GuildQuality successes were prominently featured in our Better Business Bureau Torch Award submission—we were awarded that Torch Award for Ethics in Business in October of 2017. That award along with our association with GuildQuality was highly promoted in displays in December of 2017 at our last public remodeling show held at the Minneapolis Convention Center and featured on our home webpage as well as on our blog.

My Guys Remodeling

Apex, N.C.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 96.33%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 95.24%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 150
Type of Firm: Home Improvement/Replacement

  • Approach to problem resolution: First, keeping in contact with the client all the way through the process helps mitigate any issues. When an issue presents itself on occasion (like a delivery not making it as expected), getting out in front of the problem and informing the customer right away prevents a lot of issues. We train our employees to cheerfully listen when a client has a concern before responding. We train our employees not to jump into their sentence because any assumptions you may have made are often wrong. If I take it down to a very basic level, we train to be excellent communicators and active listeners.
  • Challenging job type: Full James Hardie re-sides that include windows and stone veneering or new wrought iron railings. We try to make sure we have everything in place and ready to go before we ever start the job. Explaining to the client that some of these items are subcontractors and not part of our day-to-day, and then asking for their patience keeps most issues at bay.
  • Using recommend rate: We show our clients what our previous clients have to say about us, good and bad. Of course, there is almost no bad. We confirm that our potential client wants to be sure to get what they pay for [by] showing them how we can guarantee that they get exactly what it is that they pay for—hire us!

Paragon Construction

Midlothian, Va.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 98.06%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 95.83%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 73
Type of Firm: Full-service Remodeler

  • Approach to problem resolution: Our motto is “Transforming Homes and Expectations,” and we try to live up to that on every project. Communication is key and from the minute the job is sold all the way through completion, we are in touch with the customer with timelines [and] project updates. We work hard to proactively identify any potential issues. We advise, inform and consult with our customer every step of the way. We treat each and every project as if it is the most important one we have ever worked on—because it is.
  • Challenging job type: While we have consistently received high rankings, the hardest projects to obtain high satisfaction tend to be those that are less transforming; these would be projects such as roofing. There is not as much visual transformation, so customers tend to be less likely to comment on our work. We try to let our customers know that any change to their home is meaningful. Our expert team and partners will be with them to ensure the result is even better than they imagined. As a result of this practice, we continue to receive quality results for all types of projects.
  • Using recommend rate: We talk about the GuildQuality results and the high scores we have from the very beginning of process. From the time the appointment is made, we encourage folks to check out our reviews. Our customer advisers discuss the GuildQuality process during the initial appointment, and we have a customized handout that summarizes our results in our appointment folders. We publish results on Facebook and our website. We remind our customers again during final warranty presentation about the importance of their feedback and how they will be contacted. Many of our customers tell us they selected our company because of the high marks we have received.

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