Living Your Company’s Core Values – The Roadmap to Profitability

by Patrick OToole

Remodeling is not easy. There are a range of different moving parts on every project:

  • Plans development
  • Budget restrictions
  • Multiple trade contractors
  • Multiple products/suppliers
  • And the biggest wild card – emotional homeowners

It takes a certain kind of person that can address this complex mix of issues that are different on every project. With that stated, this is one of the reasons good contractors succeed. It takes innate creativity and patience to mold a series of plan concepts into a building project that addresses specific family demands and underlying emotional needs. We are creating a space that a family will enjoy for years to come.

And more than that, we are creating relationships with our clients that are deep and lasting. And not just with our clients, but with our trade-contractors and suppliers. These relationships seem to be the “glue” that enable us to build the projects that we do. This is a relationship-driven business. If these relationships are not primary for you, you may in the wrong business!

A traditional bidding process does not address these relationships because it is focused on price. Price is no indication of the experience that the contractor will provide to clients in the actual build. I reviewed this in my last blog in a favorite quote from The Well-Built House:

“Competitive bids are just that! If I shave the labor or materials to get your job, is that the house

you really want? There are hundreds of ways to lower the price of a building which often lower the quality and workmanship also. The- best drawings and specifications don’t protect you from poor trade practices.”

The Well-Built House
by James Locke

Let’s do this another way. The contractors I get to speak with who are client-focused go to great lengths to manage the homeowner experience. They understand that they are not just selling a project but that they are selling an experience. And this commitment to an exceptional experience is not just shared by the owner, but by all employees. That company-wide commitment is key and is emphasized in daily company operations.

There is a national retailer that does this quite well. You do not expect lower prices when you shop there but you do expect good customer service. It is what they are known for. You are all familiar with the retailer, Nordstrom:

Nordstrom has done quite well:

With a store in almost every major American city, the luxury department store is one of the most popular and largest retail chains in the US, hosting 800 million online visitors annually and 35 million instore customers in 2019.

The company’s popularity and success are due largely due to their focus on customer experience, quality, and value. In 2019, Nordstrom raked in $15.9 billion in annual revenue and continues to grow.

The company core-values are clear. They are ingrained from the highest level of management and shared with every store employee. Here are the 5 company core values that Nordstrom lives by:

  • Customer Obsessed: We strive to know our customers better than anyone else. We listen, anticipate, build trust, and move with speed to deliver on their needs. We make customers feel good!
  • Owners at Heart: We treat every interaction as an opportunity to make an impact and deliver excellence. We collect the right input, we are empowered to use good judgement, we own our decisions and keep it simple. We leave it better than we found it!
  • Curious and Ever-Changing: We approach problems with curiosity and create solutions. We unlock potential to be bold, think big, and inspire innovation. We disrupt the status quo to solve customer needs in new and relevant ways.
  • Here to Win: We are committed to delivering results, both today and tomorrow. We win as a team by supporting and challenging one another to be better every day.
  • We Extend Ourselves: We treat each other with respect and kindness. We create a welcome environment helping people feel connected, valued, and part of the community.

Stories of exceptional customer service is what Nordstrom is known for and I have my own Nordstrom sales experience. When shopping for some dress shoes, I found a pair of Steve Madden loafers that were expensive shoes. As I was deliberating on whether to buy them, the salesperson told me to take them home and wear them for a week! If I did not love them, then I could return them for a full refund. When I pointed out that I would be wearing the shoes outdoors, the salesperson said it did not matter. I should only keep the shoes if I loved them!

He gave me an opportunity to return used shoes if I did not want to keep them. That is an exceptional no-risk guarantee. I bought the shoes and still have them today. They are my favorite dress shoes!

  • Question – can you communicate that same hi-touch, personal commitment to exceptional customer service to your remodeling clients and staff? 
  • Question – will potential remodeling clients pay more for that customer experience?

Have you empowered your staff to deliver the Nordstrom sales experience? It starts with an owner’s clear communication of the company core values. If we take the Nordstrom core values as an example:

  • Are your employees “customer-obsessed”? Are they empowered to build client trust and move with speed to deliver on homeowner-needs?
  • Are they empowered to act as “owners at heart?” To leave every homeowner experience better than they found it.
  • Have you encouraged them to be “curious and ever-changing”? To be bold, think big, and inspire innovation?
  • That they are “here to win”. To win as a team by supporting and challenging each other to be better every day.
  • That “we extend ourselves”. To treat each other with respect and kindness!

This is a documented formula for success. It has led Nordstrom to over $15 billion in annual revenue. What are your company core values? Do company employees express those values daily? Are these values the fabric of your company culture? If yes, your future is bright. These core values will separate you from the competition!This is what good clients are looking for. QR

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