2018 GuildQuality Customer Service Leaders, Part 1

by Kacey Larsen

American Home Design

Goodlettsville, Tenn.
Type of firm: Home Improvement/Replacement
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 94.5%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 97.25%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 1,000

  • Approach to problem resolution: We offer a lifetime workmanship warranty on the products we install. This means we’ll go back and fix any defects of workmanship at no cost. Plus, most of our products have a product defect warranty [which] gives customers a peace-of-mind if they have any issues. Our employees are trained to take care of our customers.
  • Challenging job type: Sunroom and screen room additions—we now only do screen rooms. The amount of hoops you have to jump through to get permits and the time it takes to get the project completed and inspections to be done often cause happy customers to get antsy. We try to be as upfront as possible about time frame expectations so that the customer is not surprised.
  • Using recommend rate: Our in-home consultants share this data with potential customers. You can go on our website to see our GuildQuality results and exactly what customers are saying. Also, this website comes up when you search American Home Design.

Architectural Building Arts

Madison, Wis.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 98.78%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 19
Type of Firm: Design/Build

  • Approach to problem resolution: We look to solve as many problems in the design and preconstruction process. We work to complete all of the selections to avoid any changes or long lead times to stay on schedule. Our entire company is in Sandler Training and just completed production training through Remodelers Advantage. When problems arise, we manage them as a team and address the issue with integrity and knowledge with clients.
  • Challenging job type: Our projects seem to be consistent with great results. Our lowest score, 95 percent, is in communication. We have been addressing ways to improve this in company meetings, training and overall use of our GuildQuality results as a measure to always achieve better results.
  • Using recommend rate: When meeting with potential clients, we refer them to the GuildQuality website to view our client comments and feedback. We explain that they will be contacted for their feedback and that we really look to GuildQuality as a valued partner in the process.

Bailey Remodeling & Construction, LLC

Louisville, Ky.
Type of Firm: Design/Build & Full-service Remodeler
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 99.4%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 30

  • Approach to problem resolution: We believe that great customer service means we never surprise our customer. We talk about potential problems and the process for how they will be handled before we start the project. We also find face-to-face conversations go a long way towards fostering the relationship through the problems where email and texts can create tension.
  • Challenging job type: Any project that requires work to be done outside is always a big challenge to hit construction schedules. Outdoor living spaces and room additions always have to have a bigger buffer for the schedule. Sometimes two days of rain can cause a week of delays because the subs are getting behind on all of their jobs and have a harder time catching up.
  • Using recommend rate: When people search our extensive number of reviews online and see that we have a great track record of happy clients, I feel like we have an advantage on our competition when we walk in the door. Our prospective clients are telling us they respect us and how we do business during our initial conversations, and that goes a long way toward connecting with them on a personal level and getting to the next stage in the selling process.

Bellweather Construction

Philadelphia, Pa.
Type of Firm: Design/Build
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 97.44%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 15

  • Approach to problem resolution: Problem solving starts before the project. Our project managers and site supervisors are active participants in the sales-to-production hand-off meeting. Together, the teams “debug” the project, with a careful review of all hand-off documents. This stage culminates with an on-site client hand-off meeting with all stakeholders present (salesperson, client, designer, project manager, etc.). The group discusses solutions for “hot button” issues and agrees to an acceptable communication flow. Project managers are committed to a minimum of three client communications per week: a client walkthrough, a follow-up email with notes from the walkthrough and project summaries at the end of each week. If a problem does arise, all parties know how and where to direct their concerns.
  • Challenging job type: Third-story “pop top” additions are very disruptive and leave the client’s home vulnerable to the elements. They may be the toughest job to earn high satisfaction marks from clients. Our site supervisors commit to additional on-site management time during the most sensitive phases of these projects. Our entire team is on “red alert” while the jobsite is exposed, [and] during these phases, the number of client “touches”—emails, texts, calls and on-site meetings—almost doubles. We take these precautions to ease the client’s anxieties and to build trust.
  • Using recommend rate: Customer satisfaction scores and recommendations are rooted in our core values: reputation, integrity, communication, growth and teamwork. We publish our customer satisfaction scores on our website and include these scores in printed marketing materials and on our social media accounts. In many cases, our reputation precedes us because of our public, online customer satisfaction scores. In face-to-face meetings with clients, we share our core values and promote the benefits of working with an experienced, transparent and honest builder. Our customer satisfaction scores support these points and help us to close most deals.

BH Design + Build

Mohnton, Pa.
Type of firm: Design/Build
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 100%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 21

  • Approach to problem resolution: We have implemented multiple steps in the design process to allow our clients to give us feedback on the design and scope as the project is being developed. Our scopes of work are extremely detailed to match our drawings, and we go through each line item with the client prior to signing the contract to ensure proper communication. We verify everything at the home during a preconstruction meeting, which allows a more visual presentation of the scope of work as well. Each employee is trained to communicate about any possible discrepancies with both the client and the sales team. We do our best to do what is right every time there is a miscommunication.
  • Challenging job type: Kitchen or interior remodels that require shutting down a high-use area for an extended period of time are always challenging. It requires precision and speed, which is a tall task. Our employees are trained to be empathetic to our clients in that they understand how stressful remodeling can be. We approach these projects with an eye towards cleanliness, safety and getting the job done as quickly as possible. We try to think like the customer in these jobs, so we can proactively communicate answers to their possible questions and set proper expectations.
  • Using recommend rate: We’ve only started using it as a tool to point prospects toward since we haven’t had many ratings until last year, but it can be a potential game-changing marketing opportunity because we can explain that it is unfiltered and unbiased due to the nature of the third-party GuildQuality surveying system. Clients that have researched us on GuildQuality have commented that the high referral rate does make them feel comfortable.

Brad VanWeelden Co.

Des Moines, Iowa
Type of Firm: Home Improvement/Replacement
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 99.55%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 95.24%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 60

  • Approach to problem resolution: We try to deliver what we sell, every time. We also try to be clear about what we are selling so there is no confusion. Our employees know the policy is that our customers are always right—even if we don’t necessarily agree.
  • Challenging job type: Siding projects seem to be challenging for us. They take a little longer, and all of the work is done right in front of the customer, so the level of detail needs to be high.
  • Using recommend rate: We make GuildQuality one of our major features on our website. We discuss the third-party surveys while meeting in-home. We are proud of our GuildQuality survey scores and want people to see them, [and] we also want to know when there are areas we can improve.

Built Square

Seattle, Wash.
Type of Firm: Full-service Remodeler
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 98.28%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 20

  • Approach to problem resolution: We feel that excellent communication goes a long way to diverting customer problems before they become big issues. We set up standing weekly customer meetings to ensure that we are having good, effective communication with each of our clients.
  • Challenging job type: We have found that it really doesn’t matter about the type of job. Every homeowner is going to have their own hot buttons. It is our job to find those and make sure we are taking care of that client’s individual needs.
  • Using recommend rate: People see our online reviews when they are deciding which contractor to call. We also have several printouts in our client manual that we review with every potential client. In this day and age, great reviews and a good online presence are critical to success.

Burnett Windows & Siding

Tulsa, Okla.
Type of Firm: Home Improvement/Replacement
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 99.25%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 173

  • Approach to problem resolution: Communication is the key to successful problem resolution. Every problem creates an opportunity to improve our processes. There, first, must be standard best practices in place for every step of the process and follow through by everyone. The team at Burnett Windows & Siding holds each other accountable and, therefore, if a problem arises, we are dedicated to resolving it in a timely, efficient manner.
  • Challenging job type: Due to the GuildQuality survey process, we learned that a few gutter replacement projects received lower satisfaction ratings than expected. In response, we adjusted our practices and offered our crew members additional training, which prevented future issues and improved satisfaction ratings. We approach each and every job with the same intention: to provide the highest quality products and installation.
  • Using recommend rate: The majority of our business comes from word-of-mouth referrals from previous customers. Our ability to supplement online reviews with third-party, unbiased responses through GuildQuality strengthens the validity of our promises. We incorporated the GuildQuality widget on our website, and each of our consultants carries a copy of the 2017 Guildmaster award to appointments.

Case Design/Remodeling of San Jose

San Jose, Calif.
Type of firm: Full-service Remodeler
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 96.21%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 36

  • Approach to problem resolution: We structure a significant amount of planning during the design phase to set clear expectations with homeowner clients, which includes mechanical inspections of the home to uncover possible “hidden” conditions, very detailed plans and contracts, and on-site preconstruction walkthroughs. We also do a number of things internally, including a project “package transfer” meeting to make sure all members of the production team understand 1) the clients’ motivation and goals for the project, 2) the decision making “style” of the homeowners, 3) any health issues they may have, and 4) a clear understanding of the items the homeowner intends to supply. We also make it standard process to have our project managers provide a daily email update to share progress and the upcoming plans for the next day or week. When problems do arise, we try to be prepared by having our production staff trained on active listening, making sure they communicate with design and sales before committing to a solution, and moving to face-to-face conversations and away from email when there is a misunderstanding or the client’s level of concern or frustration in increasing.
  • Challenging job type: The most challenging projects are phased whole-house remodels where the homeowner is planning to live in the property during the work. The level of communication has to be nearly flawless as the inconvenience factor and the client’s oversight are extreme on a daily basis. In these cases, we first build a plan to make sure they understand the sequence of work and then again communicate extensively during the project. We also plan more on-site meetings to make sure expectations are continually kept updated. We’ve also developed a “Hello neighbor” card for our project managers to introduce themselves [to clients’ neighbors] and communicate that we are on-site and available to answer questions or handle any possible issues.
  • Using recommend rate: Besides having our GuildQuality reviews linked to our site, we announce our GuildQuality Guildmaster awards to our email newsletter database, and we promote our reviews on social media. In person, we promote our GuildQuality reviews via our iPad presentation book to clients, in our client seminars, in our print ads, and in our homeowner presentation materials at in-home consultations.

Classic Remodeling & Construction, Inc.

Johns Island, S.C.
Type of Firm: Design/build
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 96%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 97%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 60

  • Approach to problem resolution: Clear communication from start to finish is absolutely key to avoiding problems during the job. We try to set clear expectations with the client at the beginning of our working relationship on everything from budget and schedule to the construction process, when decisions are needed and what our change order process is. Internally, we pass final plans off to our project craftsmen for review several weeks before the job starts. Our design and construction teams then meet in the office to talk through any potential challenges or questions before doing an on-site walk-through just prior to the start of construction. As the project progresses, we have regular check-ins with the client to review the project and answer any questions. We have a multifaceted approach to training employees to handle problem resolution. We periodically schedule “lunch and learn” or on-site training to review specific details or installation methods in an effort to ensure consistency from job to job. We have also sent our employees to training courses for various product certifications. When it comes to working with clients, we try to identify people with good conflict resolution skills during the hiring process, and then train them on what types of issues we expect them to handle on their own and at what point to escalate problems to the project designer or management.
  • Challenging job type: Whole-house renovations are sometimes a little more trying for the customer. With larger budgets and longer construction times, we tend to find the clients’ stress levels go up as the job goes along. In addition to trying to keep those lines of communication open, we also use GuildQuality to survey these larger projects more frequently throughout the job. We know that sometimes clients will share information with a third party that they may not necessarily feel comfortable sharing with us directly. By surveying at key points throughout the job, we can hopefully get a better gauge of how the client is feeling, giving us an opportunity to identify any areas we need to address [and] making sure we wrap things up on a positive note.
  • Using recommend rate: We frequently refer prospects to our GuildQuality profile to read reviews from past clients and view our scorecard. We also publish comments from our surveys on our social media profiles and website. The Guildmaster designation is a great differentiator for us. To be able to say that we’re one of only a small number of companies nationwide who have won the Guildmaster award every year since its inception lets potential clients know that we have a long history of consistently delivering on our promises.

Contract Exteriors

Murrells Inlet, S.C.
Type of Firm: Home Improvement/Replacement
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 95.95%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 97.85%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 317

  • Approach to problem resolution: The ultimate goal on every project is our customers’ experience. This is why we have a Customer Experience Department, [which] ensures every one of our customers has the experience that leads to a quality project, not just visual quality. If a situation does arise, the Customer Experience representative is always upfront and honest with the homeowner, explaining what has occurred and the steps we will take to fix the problem. The constant communication between the sales team, Customer Experience team and project managers helps resolve any potential problems. Our team of professionals are dedicated to continuing education and training to help us stay sharp and provide a better service to our homeowners. We don’t limit our training to national conferences; our manufacturers offer great online training courses as well as hands-on training courses for our installers, project managers, customer experience team and office staff.
  • Challenging job type: Decking is a project many homeowners think they can handle by themselves. There is so much that goes into a deck that not using a professional decking contractor can potentially lead to issues. Hiring an engineer is key to ensuring the deck is designed to withstand mother nature and meet code, causing the process to be delayed anywhere from two to four weeks. We live in an area where an outdoor living space can be enjoyed year-round, causing disappointment when [a homeowner] doesn’t realize how long of a process it is to replace or add on a deck. We approach the homeowner [to] let them know that the reason for the delay is to ensure their family’s safety [since] not having a properly designed deck could lead to the deck failing. To keep the homeowner satisfied, they have access to our client project portal, a simple-to-use software that keeps them up-to-date on the status of the project via images and detailed progress reports.
  • Using recommend rate: A contractor’s reputation extends beyond word-of-mouth, [which] is why we are happy to provide our potential clients with our customer satisfaction scores and recommendation rate On our proposal, we have a page dedicated to out industry recognition. Included on that page is our GuildQuality Service Excellence Award, stating we have been recognized for our exceptional customer experience based on independent customer surveys. We have incorporated this recognition on our website, social media accounts, blogs, videos, magazine ads, direct mailers and literature given out at home shows. Our company website has a page dedicated to testimonials from customers that were left on Facebook, Google and GuildQuality. In addition, our website has video testimonials from homeowners, talking about their experience with us.

Craftsman Design and Renovation

Portland, Ore.
Type of Firm: Design/build
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 98.02%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 87.5%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 15

  • Approach to problem resolution: We minimize problems through our unique process we have developed from 20 years of experience in this field. We do a complete and thorough design before we begin construction. This includes all the selections, finishes and minute details of the project. If and when issues may arise, we fall back on our process and open communication to see what might have been missed and how we can improve in the future. We are an ever-evolving company that strives to be the best at what we do and are always looking to improve.
  • Challenging job type: Multi-room projects tend to be the toughest. Any change orders the clients may make have a bigger impact when there are multiple projects going on. We try and stress that any change will delay the schedule.
  • Using recommend rate: We have a printout of our GuildQuality reviews and links to them that we give clients on all our lead meetings. We have a link on our website to our GuildQuality review page. The quotes that clients give us through GuildQuality reviews are also scrolling on our website.

Criner Remodeling

Newport News, Va.
Type of Firm: Full-service Remodeler
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 97.39%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 96.77%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 45

  • Approach to problem resolution: We take the time to discuss projects in great detail with clients during the first appointment, design and selection phases. We also have a customer conference meeting prior to the start of each job and near the completion of each job. We only hire seasoned carpenters—each with years of experience. Should any problems arise, a senior staff member will intervene to assure client satisfaction. Our project managers are well-versed at knowing when to take anything unusual “up the chain.”
  • Challenging job type: With the systems we currently have in place, we are able to catch issues before they become large problems. So we are not in the habit of approaching customer interactions differently depending on the project type.
  • Using recommend rate: We feature our satisfaction scores on our website and also use them on a print piece that is presented and discussed at each first appointment with potential clients.

Crystal Exteriors LLC

Silver Spring, Md.
Type of Firm: Home Improvement/replacement
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 100%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 33

  • Approach to problem resolution: I know my employee’s limits on what they can and cannot do. With that being said, I would rather politely decline a job than do a terrible job. Many problems can be avoided with clear communication with the customer. By explaining the entire work process before contracting, they have an understanding of what is to happen. If there are any potential problems that could occur, I discuss and offer solutions. When a problem does arise, I have trained my employee’s to be honest and straight-forward with the customer to develop a solution.
  • Challenging  job type: Entry door installation is the toughest. The product is used multiple times a day so we always emphasize the importance of choosing a quality product for the installation. We suggest options and upgrades that will help ensure a long-lasting entryway.
  • Using recommend rate: Most of our customers visit our website and research on us prior to making an appointment. We embrace and utilize our reviews during the consultation.

Dave Fox Design Build Remodelers

Columbus, Ohio
Type of Firm: Design/build & Full-service Remodeler
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 92.62%
GQ 2017 Recommend Rate: 92.42%
Number of Jobs in 2017: 129

  • Approach to problem resolution: Having good systems in place along with effective employee training helps to reduce many problems that can surface, but in remodeling, business problems can occur no matter how hard we try to avoid them or how effective our processes are. We train our employees to never hide problems from our customers, but to face them head-on, take responsibility for them and include our customers in the resolution. Some of our most loyal customers are ones that experienced a significant issue during their project but became raving fans of our company due to the way we handled the situation.
  • Challenging job type: Multi-room projects and projects made up of many miscellaneous items can be challenging for us and our customers. The key for us has been training our employees to skillfully manage the customer’s expectations upfront. Complex projects are a breeding ground for complex problems and delays. We want the customer to understand that issues will arise but we will always be focused on addressing issues promptly and professionally. We want them to know we will never leave them hanging and will never compromise the quality of their project or their experience.
  • Using recommend rate: We use the quotes taken directly from our client satisfaction surveys throughout our entire website. These quotes and comments from our clients are the essence of what we strive for as a company. We have one page on our website called “Why Us.” This page is dedicated to and was derived from these client quotes. We have broken them down into the four main categories of reasons why our clients say they would recommend us: trust, professionalism, quality, and the stress-free experience. Additionally, we have our clients’ comments blown-up as wall decals throughout our design studio, not only for clients to see but to remind ourselves what we’re working toward.

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