Ask a contractor why he or she is in business, and they’ll probably say: to make money. That makes perfect sense—at least to them. But it probably won’t do much to motivate employees or attract customers. And how about the person who’s just been hired? What do you say is the company’s purpose? To make money means to make the boss money.
I learned through trial-and-error that money and profit aren’t the point of having a business. To attract customers and get employees aligned in the same direction, your business needs to be about something else.
Some years back, Maggio Roofing engaged in an exercise to come up with a mission statement. The first idea was that we wanted to do really good work and have a great reputation in the community.
Then we scratched our heads. That was the goal, but not really what we stood for.
What you stand for is the brand; a mission statement supports the brand. We went back to work and came up with this: “We stand for providing top-quality roofing products and long-term growth for employees.” That describes what we’re all about to both the homeowner we appeal to and the employee who provides it.
How To Get There
Here’s why it’s important: Homeowners want peace of mind. Instead, they usually get what I call “the home improvement runaround.” The guys don’t show up on time. Or they don’t communicate. Or clean up. The job might be good, but the experience often isn’t.
That happens because employees aren’t dialed in to what the company stands for. If the point is to make the owner money, what does showing up on time or communicating or cleaning up have to do with it? Even if you give a bonus to the project manager and the crew, that’s about getting it done fast and saving you bucks. They may get it done fast, but you’re unlikely to have that homeowner recommending your company to anyone. You didn’t wow them. And these days, the homeowner’s irritation or indifference affects your online image, especially through referrals.
Brand In Action
So we decided top-quality materials and creating the opportunity for employee growth was our mission, and that our brand was providing a better customer experience than anyone else in the market.
That decision had the incidental effect of drawing a certain kind of employee to our company. We seek to attract the kind of person who wants to work at a place where they’re helping other people.
Still, “better customer experience” is vague. How do you translate it into something meaningful? How do you provide it?
We decided you make that happen by committing to the principle, “doing the right thing.” If something goes wrong, you own up to it and you fix it.
For instance, a lot of companies make excuses when they get a complaint. We find out what the problem is, determine who’s responsible, and suggest a solution. Sometimes it’s our fault, sometimes not. But we don’t back away.
For instance, a customer called one day, shortly after her roof was finished, to report that something was wrong with her toilet. She was certain that the roof was involved. Rather than just say, “Lady, it’s your toilet,” our guys diagnosed the problem, explained how to fix it, then bought a $5 part at the hardware store around the corner and installed it. I was initially taken aback. I thought, now we own that toilet. But it was employees taking customer service to a new level. The customer sent us a check for fixing it and wrote a great review.
What We Stand For
When we committed to this process about 13 years ago, our referral rate was 15 percent. Today, it’s tracking 48 percent. In addition, everybody at Maggio Roofing knows we’re not just putting on a great roof, but providing the best customer experience for our client.
We talk about this in the hiring process. We use it to sell job candidates on our company. We also train for it when someone’s being onboarded.
Let’s say you were hired as a project manager. We want it done a certain way at Maggio, regardless of your prior experience. So you’d work for a few weeks with our other project managers so that you understand our procedures. For instance, greeting the homeowner when you arrive. We use video, a script and role-playing to train for it. That way you’ll build rapport with the homeowner, and if there’s an issue, everyone’s comfortable talking. It’s a lot easier to get to know them when you first get there and they’re excited. Why wait for a problem?
We don’t want the wrong person working at our company. We want someone who will be a team player, who understands our mission, our brand, and what we want to do. When we do that, the money takes care of itself. |QR
Scott Siegal is owner of Maggio Roofing in Washington, D.C., and also owns the Certified Contractors Network. You can learn more about CCN by going to the website contractors.net.