Dad used to tell me a story about a builder in Warrenton, VA. This particular builder built quite a few homes, and he told every single buyer the same thing at their closing, “don’t call me if you have any issues.”
Now, this goes against absolutely every business bone in my body. How in the world could he say that to a client?
A couple of years ago, we wanted to be more intentional about telling every client at settlement to call us if they had ANY questions, issues, or concerns. Seems funny that we would have to remind people to call us with any problems, but we found over the years that for one reason or another, people decided not to call us first. We want clients to call us first. ALWAYS.
There are a few reasons for this:
We like to know what is happening in our homes as they are being lived in. It helps us make improvements to the product. A couple of years back, I called a family to check in with them to see how they were enjoying their new home. Mrs. “W” told me how much they loved it and how pleased they were with everything. As we were wrapping up the call, she asked if she could give a suggestion. Of course I said YES. I love getting feedback.
She said she thought the garage door opener was really loud. At first I thought maybe something was wrong with the actual opener. But she assured me the unit was operating fine. It was just loud, especially in her son’s room which was right above the garage.
Ding ding ding.
Not a week earlier, Adam was telling me he had moved his son to the bedroom over the garage because their newborn daughter was moving into the nursery. He said he couldn’t believe how loud the garage door opener was when standing in the room over the garage.
We have always built over garages and we’ve always used the same opener. Is it possible no one noticed it? No way. But it is possible that even though they noticed it, they didn’t call us. The next week, we implemented a quieter version of the garage door opener on all new installs. It was a great upgrade, and it was made because of that client call.
There will be instances that we can’t help with an issue, but we still want to help solve it. Can we recommend a contractor? Can we make some calls? Have a question about a quote? Call us. We will do everything we can to help you.
It doesn’t happen often but sometimes we get calls about things that are out of warranty and that’s OK. In fact, that’s what we want our homeowners to do. Because if it is something that isn’t covered but should have been done better or differently during the build, we want an opportunity to address it. Most people are surprised when I tell them this. But I can recount several instances where a homeowner will call and say something like this…”I built my home in 199X, and I’m concerned about X. Would you come take a look at it?” Our answer is always yes. In some cases, when we go out to inspect, we have to tell the owner that it is homeowner maintenance (or lack of) or it is due to the home being 25-years-old.
But sometimes, our answer is, “we should have done that better to start, let us address that for you.” A look of surprise doesn’t even capture the owner’s reaction. We had an owner call us earlier this year who built his home in 1996. He was a bit cynical on the phone when he first called. And then he was surprised when we showed up for the inspection. And finally he was shocked when fixed the problem.
Look, I’m not telling you this because I’m proud that a 20-year-old house had an issue. I’m telling you this because we fixed the issue. On a 20-year-old house.
Don’t get me wrong, we like to do things once and do it right. But there is no perfect house. I’m sorry. It just doesn’t exist. Why else would EVERY (good) builder have a warranty/service department? What sets us apart from every other builder I know is that we want you to call.
Dream Big. Build Smart.