Contractors Blog: The Touch Points
If you’ve read some of my other contractor blogs you’ve already got a sense for my experience, which is big in touch points. Touch points both in creating new and maintaining existing relationships. It will also not surprise you that many contractors are bad at “touch points” with current and future customers. I’ll even admit that our construction team (Tyler Home LLC) is not always the best at all the “touch points” I’m talking about below. None the less I hope you get some valuable insight from what we do in our company.
I’m breaking these down to their most basic forms.
(1) The customers: (Both current & future) – To me customers can be just about anyone that is wanting or willing to pay for our services. They can come from about any where. First thing you want to think about is who your customer is. Ask yourself a handful of questions to help you identify your customer. This will help you determine how you’re going to capture more of them. It’ll help you grow your base.
(2) Suppliers & Subs: (Both current & future) – To me this is anyone that I will purchase materials or services from. One of my previous blogs talked specifically about relationships and how I create them and more specifically, how I work with them to make our projects overall more successful.
(3) The Team: (Both current & future) – To me this is your team in your own organization. How are you finding new recruits? How are you developing your current team?
*All three of these relationships are essential to your company’s success. I have been asked multiple times from many of my subs & suppliers, how do you find business? Well that’s kind of what this blog is meant to explain, so hopefully you’re still reading.
Customer “Touch Points”
At our company I’ve made a beautiful flow chart showing how a project life cycle works for us. Seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many companies don’t know this. Many have the thought of estimate -> job -> paid mentality. However, that’s not really it. What are all the things you do in that cycle? How do you do each? I’ve put our flow chart below to give you a thought on it.
(1) Scheduling the estimate – For us it happens in only two ways.
(A) Website Schedule – As a potential customer or returning you can schedule an estimate right on our website. It puts it on our estimate calendar.
(B) Email or Some Messenger Way (no phone call) – In either of these two we focus on getting the customers contact info, then we move to the next step (same for all forms).
(C) Phone Call – No matter if the customer uses A or B we always call to confirm the information. Many times a customer just calls in. When calling to confirm or setting up our estimate via the phone, everything gets keyed into “Build Hero” a construction management program we use. From this software platform we keep everything in one location. (I’ll explain more on this in future blogs)
(2) The Estimate – For us it generally goes, I or our other estimator goes and completes the estimate. Most the time the estimate isn’t completed on site, rather all the pictures, measurements, and notes are documented in “Build Hero”. Later, depending on the size of estimate it will get completed in 3-5 days. However, there is a “touch-point” here at the estimate. We, my other estimator and myself, take the time to train our customer. What’s this mean you might ask? Well we found that to improve our service level, keep everyone on the same page, and overall improve our close rate we need to make sure our customer understands the why’s behind how we do things. Mainly, this is explaining the benefits of utilizing “Build Hero” with our team vs other means of doing things. Showing them how it will work for them and how they can connect it to text, email, see their options, etc… This touch point is key for three reasons:
(A) It gives the customer confidence in our team and our organization. Meaning they feel that we are not going to be the usual contractor that has scheduling problems, surprise billing, and poor communication!
(B) It plants the seed for up selling product. Do you want Granite or Quartz? Well our software “Build Hero” allows us to give you options and you can see how it’ll change your price by turning them on/off.
(C) It makes our life easier, by keeping all our projects running through the same system in the same way. We tend to run 4-10 projects at any given time and it takes good organization abilities to make them run as smooth as possible.
(3) Selecting & Ordering Materials – For us this is working closely with our suppliers and team to make sure the right things are selected and the experience is fun! Again, like the steps above this “touch-point” is documented via “Build Hero” to make sure we have the right materials. Have you heard “I didn’t pick that tile?” I can’t tell you how many times I referred back to the customers project on “Build Hero” and showed them the picture and notes on the material. Yes, you could find that email, but when your running 4-10 projects each with multiple players doing different things. It’s nice to keep everything in one location.
(4) Projects Done: “The Punch List” – Depending on the size of the project depends on whether we do a punch list or not. Most bathrooms, kitchens, etc… will have a punch-list. To us the punch-list is meant to be things our team overlooked that our customer would like corrected. We allow customers to keep 5% of the overall billed amount until the punch-list is completed. This gives them confidence that we’ll complete it, but doesn’t keep cash from us. Also, all these terms are explained in step #2 above (The Estimate) and how we train our customer. The punch-list is walked with the customer 3-5 days after the completion of the project. We do it like this, because we want the customer to “live in the project” and experience everything. You’d be surprised how much you notice once you start using your newly remodeled bathroom. After the 3-5 days has pasted either myself or someone who hasn’t worked on the day to day of the project will walk the punch-list with the customer. This is also done on purpose to give the customer complete freedom to speak their mind. I didn’t do the work so if something looks like shit, let’s fix it. Many people don’t like to tell others that they saw working hard that something looks horrible. The punch-list is recorded in “Build Hero” with included pictures or videos of the items to be completed. The reasoning is after the punch-list is down anything else becomes warranty work, which we offer a 1-year warranty on our craftsmanship. We’ve had times when the customer would either
(1) Forget they gave us a punch-list
(2) After the punch-list was done, not pay and add another handful of items
We once had a customer have us come out 4 times for a punch-list because the husband and wife didn’t communicate and each had different items. Again, all this is explained during #2 (The Estimate) Training your customer. This way nothing is a surprise.
(5) The Thank You Letter – With us each project gets a mailed thank you letter. Allowing us to:
(1) Thank them personally
(2) Ask for a review
(3) Educate them on our referral program
(4) Educate them on additional services we offer
(6) The Professional Video – Depending on the size of project and the customer we’ll have a professional video made and pictures taken. A customer testimonial that we can use to obtain future customers.
(7) The Referral Payments – We pay $25-$100 per referral of a completed project. We consistently do these, but they tend to start with the Step #5 (Thank you letter) Item #3. We have consistently received 3 to 4 levels of referrals! What’s this?
(A) Customer A does a project, then referred us to Customer B
(B) Customer B does their project, we pay Customer A (Referral Fee), Customer B gets Thank you letter, and then refers us to Customer C.
(C) Customer C does their project, we pay Customer B (Referral Fee), Customer C gets Thank you letter, and then refers us to Customer D
A Few Things We Should Still Do:
(1) Door Knockers – We have printed door knockers that when doing a project we hit 10 neighbor homes in the area with. We are not consistent on this, but it is still a strong “touch point”
(2) Emailed Newsletters – We used to do monthly newsletters via MailChimp and have found we don’t do it as much or as consistently as before.
(3) Yard Signs – We actually have branded metal yard signs with brochure holders on them. They tend to not always find their way out of the trailers, like they should.
Supplier & Sub “Touch Points”
Our biggest touch points here are:
(1) The Interview: For us this is lunch or coffee to get to know one another. Explaining to them why we do the things we do the way we do it. Set out expectations for them if they want to work with us. If it’s a good fit we’ll start pushing work their way.
(2) The Sub & Supplier Day: This we do quarterly and we now do it at different supplier locations vs our office to allow them to showcase their showrooms. It’s a great networking piece for each of them too. We bring in food and spend time giving awards for different things we want them to do. The awards also come with gift cards, prizes, etc… A great way for us to keep them motivated and thank them for taking care of us and our customers.
-Awards: Are based on the three problems homeowners complain about.
(1) Scheduling & time management – We give two awards for this. First, for getting most estimates done on time. Second, for getting most on time portions of their projects done. Basically (1st getting the estimate done – 2nd getting the job done)
(2) Surprises – We give two awards for this. First, getting change order completed on time. Second, uploading pictures, videos, etc… in a timely manner.
(3) Communication – We give two awards for this. First, communicating with us on changes quickly. Second, communicating with each other quickly.
(4) Got Your Back Bro – This award is meant to encourage our subs & suppliers to help us when problems arise. Also, to get involved in community events with us too. (I’ll talk about community events in other blogs)! We however, give two awards for this area too.
Also, with sub & supplier day we go over how we can make each other’s lives easier and better. Take time to teach each sub & supplier how we want them to be using “Build Hero” with us. Basically, where to put things, etc, etc… This way they we can all work better together as a more well oiled machine.
Our Teams “Touch Points”
(1) The Weekly Meeting – We consistently do a weekly meeting to discuss what’s happening in our organization. Since our team is roughly 7-9 people (give or take) we have everyone at the meeting. It keeps our team on the same page and working towards one goal.
(2) The Recognition – Anytime a customer specifically calls out a team member for going above and beyond we pay out a $25 gift card as a way of thanking them.
(3) The Referral – We pay our team for referrals. Seems weird right… The idea behind this though is to encourage them to talked to people about our company and what we offer. So yeah, we pay them to bring in more business. As long as it’s a new customer and no one else referred them to us.
(4) Monthly Lunches – We have at least one meeting a month somewhere nicer to buy everyone lunch. This could be an Applebees, iHop, Denny’s, basically anywhere the team wants to go.
(5) The Cards – We always give our team Christmas cards with bonus. Birthday cards with bonus. If they are a veteran then a card and bonus on Veterans Day!
(6) The Promotional Gear – Shirts, hats, bennies, bags, jackets, and just about whatever the team wants that brands us we’ll do.
If your still reading I hope you found some useful information in this blog. Even if you don’t take everything from it, I hope you found at least one thing you can do now to improve your business and it’s “touch points”!