Drury Designs

by Emily Blackburn
Gladys Schanstra

Glen Ellyn, Ill.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 99%
GQ 2021 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2021: 51
Type of Firm: Design/Build, Full-service Remodeler, Home improvement/Replacement
CEO: Gladys Schanstra

Business technology and business software are offering new ways for remodelers and home improvement professionals to improve client experience and customer satisfaction. In what ways are you using software or technology to improve client experience?:

We have used design software for our drawings for a very long time. Early on, we liked the flexibility and control of AutoCAD – because it’s like drawing with a pencil and paper. The challenge was to incorporate 3D drawings and renderings efficiently and still retain the unique “look” of our drawings. We now use Chief Architect with a template customized for our company. This way our drawings reflect our original settings, keeping the same line weights and dimension/text style. We use a highly customizable CRM tool called Zoho for lead tracking and project communications management. Zoho allows us to stay in touch with our clients from the beginning of the process to the end, tracking project milestones and associated communications along the way. For remote communications, a recent upgrade to Owl Labs web cameras in our main conference room has improved our video conference meetings dramatically. We use two Owl cameras (Meeting Owl 3) with a projection screen and it’s as if our remote colleagues and clients are in the room with us. The all-in-one, 360 degree, camera, mic and speaker units show everyone in the room at the same time, and automatically feature whoever is speaking.

Rising costs for labor and building materials along with higher inflation on everything else is forcing remodelers and home pros to raise prices dramatically. Tell us about the most effective ways you are passing along these rising prices to your clients?:

We discuss pricing increases and the current remodeling climate with our clients early in the process – pretty much from the beginning to set clear expectations. We inform them immediately of any price increases and when they are effective so that we can either make decisions quickly to take advantage of the current lower pricing or plan accordingly for an increase. We’ve also worked with our installers so that they can hold their prices at the time of the contract signing. Our clients rely on us to keep to the detail and pricing at contract so an escalation clause would be detrimental. Our installers can build the future price increases into their current pricing. We also give deposits to our contractors early so they have the chance to purchase materials and hold onto them for the project.

Supply shortages have required you to ask clients to go back and pick another finish or building material. What are your tips for handing these product trade-off conversations?:

We are up front with our clients. We let them know how fast things change (Ex. what is available and in-stock). We do our due-diligence and check on products before specifying it. We also present options as part of our design process, so this becomes a nice back-up in case the first choice becomes unavailable or takes longer than initially planned/expected. We try to make sure that our material selection options involve lots of varied choices – this creates a system with a built-in backup. In fact, our clients say choosing a final preferred scheme from our well-curated designs is a welcome challenge. Finding an alternative in the choices presented (due to a shortage) doesn’t have to be a disappointing thing.

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