A RELATIONSHIP BASED ON TRUST AND INTEGRITY How One Client’s Story Changed the Way We Do Business
In business, you learn from your mistakes. Whenever you take a wrong step or make an error with a client, you do everything you can to make it right, and you keep it in your mind moving forward to avoid another misstep. But the opposite is true, too. When everything goes right, and you get an incredibly kind note from one of the people you serve, it doesn’t just make your day; it gives you a playbook to exceed your client’s expectations even further the next time they call.
Jane, her daughter, and their beautiful home
Years back, in the days when I was still running sales calls, we were contacted by a client named Jane Hannigan. She was a wonderful woman, a busy single mom with a lot on her plate, and she needed our help. On the side of her house, there were two storm windows that had overstayed their welcome and were starting to fall apart. We gave her a quote to replace them with two sliding windows, and she hired us to come out and do the job — so far, so good.
The BBB rep was as surprised as I was since they rarely received anything positive about a business in the mail.
But when we got to her home, we realized that the problem was a lot worse than we first thought. The windows were situated on a concrete slab, their wooden sills rotting down to the core. What should have taken a few hours ended up taking a full day and a half as we ripped out the old wood and completely rebuilt her sill plate. Meanwhile, Jane was wringing her hands, worried that this huge increase in time would result in a massive hike on the bill. But when we were all done, and the new windows were installed and looking great, we refused to charge her even a penny more than our original quote. For me, honoring our quote was just the right thing to do. But Jane was absolutely thrilled. So thrilled, in fact, that she wrote me a personal note, along with a letter she sent to the Better Business Bureau. When the BBB sent me an email titled “Complaint Case No. 221700” my heart about leapt out of my chest, but when I opened it, I discovered that it wasn’t a complaint at all — it was a complimentary letter extolling our integrity and craftsmanship!
A year later, when we did our routine call to Jane to ensure the product was holding up and doing exactly what she expected, it turned out that she had more work for us to do. We installed a garage for her and completely redid the sides of her house. What started as a relatively routine, small job — replacing a few windows — turned into a yearslong relationship of trust and repeat business. Fairly early on in my home improvement career, this event forced me to shift my mindset about the way we did business. Before, we focused mostly on finding new clients who needed our help, but today, we do everything to become our existing clients’ contractor for life. For us, it’s all about founding a lifelong relationship built on honesty, excellent service, and genuine investment in our clients’ well-being. And, as we’ve always believed, it’s about doing the right thing, no matter what. –Ger Ronan
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