satisfactionThe U.S. economy is strong—so is the remodeling market, which is estimated to grow 3 percent or more to nearly $400 billion in 2019. These gains come on top of several years of even more robust growth for remodeling. That is why it is so striking that “value” has gained traction with clients, moving to the No. 2 spot when viewed as a trait of overall satisfaction. In addition, “budget” as a factor in satisfaction has jumped from the No. 15 spot in each of the last two years to the No. 7 spot this year. Could this subtle shift toward bottom-line results, among others year over year, be a harbinger of larger shifts in the market? Take the latest forecast for remodeling from John Burns Real Estate Consulting. It sees a slowdown in remodeling activity derived from big projects (everything over $5,000) and strong growth in the number of small projects (under $5,000). There are a number of reasons why the average ticket is falling back. First, younger homeowners are doing more home improvement; DIY is ticking upward too. Second, after years of rising house prices in most metro areas, that growth is slowing, meaning slower equity growth. As a result, maybe this year, for the first time in a while, people are putting tighter limits on what they are willing to invest.

Higher Expectations

Responsiveness to completed items on a final “punchlist” has grown in importance over the last three years. Back in 2016, it ranked as the No. 12 most important driver of customer satisfaction. Last year it moved up to the No. 7 spot, and this year it stands at No. 5. Does this shift correspond with market changes? Probably not. More likely it is a byproduct of widespread improvements in service levels in all parts of the broader consumer economy. How quickly does Amazon solve a problem with an order? You send it back and the money is quickly refunded. In industry after industry, technology has raised expectations. Problems are resolved faster with less hassle. So if you are operating at 1995 or 2005 service-level speed, 2020 standards will certainly have a negative impact on how your customers perceive the job you are doing for them.

Responsiveness, Eye-to-Eye Communication

It should be reassuring to know, then, that after five consecutive years of careful measurement in producing this report with data from GuildQuality, attributes of “trust,” “responsiveness,” and an ability to “resolve problems” remain at the top of the satisfaction-driver list. You may not offer the most up-to-date communication technology—apps for viewing progress or regular photos from the jobsite. Your way might be a text or a voice call with weekly updates. Clients are OK without all the bells and whistles. But you certainly can control how they feel about you as a reliable partner. How well do you handle a situation when, unexpectedly, there is a pipe running through a wall that is slated for demo? How well do you communicate the value and quality of your solutions? You can do it. Even if you are old school, you can satisfy customers.

The data presented above represents most- desired traits across all job types. In the PDF of the heat map (click here) you will find these numbers broken down by job category and type. Some traits are more highly prized in big projects versus smaller ones. Finally, we profile 60 companies who share their thoughts on what makes them so successful at creating happy clients. It is information that can certainly help you improve your bottom line.

We broke the sixty profiles into four parts featuring 15 companies in each (in alphabetical order). We spotlight each company’s All-time GuildQuality Recommend Rate, 2018 GuildQuality Recommend Rate, number of jobs as well as the responses to three questions.

This report was edited and written by Kacey Larsen and Patrick O’Toole, with the data and graphics collaboration of Alex Overall, Bailey D’Alessio and Michelle Lolley at GuildQuality.

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