Stebnitz Builders

by Emily Blackburn

Chris Stebnitz

Elkhorn, WI

GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 99%
GQ 2020 Recommend Rate: 100%
Number of Jobs in 2020: 35
Type of Firm: Full-service Remodeler
CEO: Chris Stebnitz

1. Demand for services is stronger than ever. Supply delays are widespread. Building product prices are rising. Please name the concrete steps you take to keep customers satisfied as timelines and prices are fluctuating?

“We are up-front with clients from the very first conversations. We are telling them that what they’re hearing out there in regard to pricing and timing is relatively accurate and we explain what that means to them and their remodeling plans going forward.

We’ve increased our budgeting numbers to better reflect the reality of the increased costs and are giving them a longer timeline for the project schedule.

We are telling clients that we would rather disappoint them now in regard to timing and budgets, so we can all adjust to the correct reality and move forward. The reality for us may be an eight-week wait for a first appointment and up to four-months for plans to be completed and contract created/ signed. Then, there’s a wait for new projects to begin. This could be another 2 months or more, depending on the amount in design.”

2. A good remodeling or home improvement firm knows the limits of its capabilities to take on additional work. What do/would you communicate to clients when you cannot handle their job and must decline their inquiry?

This is a great question. We’ve actually found great value in this for the last several years – well before the current market conditions spiked. In every initial conversation we have with a client, our Brand Manager discusses their project with them. Then, a follow-up phone call from the owner is made to drill down even further to understand their goals for the project. I want to ensure we are a good fit for each other, that their project is something that fits our business model, the location is appropriate for our team and their budget is truly a realistic one for the current market conditions.

3. During busy times like these, operational adjustments are needed in order to take on more work, often with the same level of staffing. What steps have you taken to ensure a quality experience despite the added workloads for your team?

“At the end of the day, we need to provide a wonderful experience to our clients. Our reputation is our most valuable asset, and we need to protect that with every effort, with every client. Remaining current with demand vs staffing is the first step to ensuring every client has the best experience. Too few people in the right positions and things fall through the crack and you lose trust (which leads to losing money).

We are spending a great deal of time and resources to fine tune our process and ensure all the bases are covered, every time. As thing have gotten busier, we’ve had to add staff to help ensure that experience occurs.

We’ve hired additional carpenters to our team. We’re hiring young people, often reaching them with apprenticeships through high school. We are training them our way and giving them a very attainable goal of making this a very lucrative career.

We are in the process of adding support staff to our process as well. An Assistant Production Manager will take some of the duties off the plate of our Production Manager, free him up for higher-level planning and organizational management. We’re using our older carpenters who are getting ready to transition out of the field as “experts from the field” to problem solve and plan new projects. We’re also going to be using those seasoned carpenters as teachers, giving a hands-on education to our younger staff on specific skill sets and construction knowledge.”

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