Murphy Bros. Design Build Remodel

by Emily Blackburn
John Murphy
Ben Murphy

Blaine, Minn.
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 91%
GQ 2021 Recommend Rate: 94%
Number of Jobs in 2021: 135
Type of Firm: Design/Build
CEO: John Murphy, Ben Murphy

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?:

From a continuous improvement perspective, rework and waiting are two of the most pernicious robbers of time and effort. We recently went paperless with Sage to cut down the time it takes us to process paper, mostly receipts, which also cuts down on the cycle time in the production phase. It saves a ton of time, creates fewer questions, and reduced confusion with clients. It also means we can respond to client accounting issues quicker. No issue goes to trust more than how well things are handled in the transactional process. We also use BuilderTrend as our project management system to stay in touch with clients 24/7 and to allow them to see the progress of their remodels daily. In addition to that, we have implemented a direct satisfaction “check-in” phone call from a dedicated full-time staffer to catch issues while they are small and easy to fix. We augment that with periodic texts to make similar inquiries about how things are going.

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 hired a full-time estimator to make sure we are getting the best pricing possible from vendors, and get budgets back to clients quickly and with greater accuracy, which reduces the chance of a big price tag surprise. Time and money are both deadly to the remodeling process. On the communication side, we have produced several vlogs and blogs over the past 2 years to tackle the issues of rising prices and most recently sent a mass email out to clients and prospects about the latest Cost Vs. Value report, which we include as a linked resource in all our introductory emails to prospects. In addition, we offer hand-off relationship resources with construction financing specialists to help people find other ways to afford their remodels. We are also plugged into city programs that offer special CEE financing programs that promote home improvements. Although there’s a lot of paperwork associated with these programs, they most often do help younger homeowners who don’t have the equity. The most important message is to talk about value in relation to their pain and future happiness.

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?:

Tip #1— get to the issue early and often in the design conversations. A price-surprised or even shocked homeowner is almost always a no. Tip #2—talk about tradeoffs in terms of priority and tie it to lasting value. Giving up a less durable surface in a less important part of the home, such as a laundry room, for one of higher quality in a more important part of the remodel, such as the kitchen, can often soothe the emotional pain of having to make such a choice. Now that we have our own cabinet-making division, we can offer custom cabinets at a lower price point, in less time, and with more predictable quality and still make our margin. Part of that craftsmanship quality becomes apparent at installation, which tends to go much more smoothly when we control the entire process. The smoother the better when it comes to client experiences. Tip#3—avoid having them choose an alternative by simply ordering the items that might be delayed or on a lengthy timeline earlier in the process than you normally would do so. Tip #4—show the client how they can reduce the scope of the project and still maintain the quality of materials used while achieving the same overall goal for their top priority. In other words, do the full kitchen, but only update the bath instead of a full replacement.

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