Are you busy? Of course, you are. The industry is
busy. Even though our resources seem stretched to the limit now, we’ll
find a way to build the pools, spas, and water features that are on the
books. The timing could be an issue though. There is a concern – can we
give all our customers the level of attention they expect and deserve?
Recently I was talking to a service technician who runs
warranty calls for a large local builder. He was prioritizing his
schedule of calls and mumbled about moving a call regarding a dripping filter
to the bottom of the list again. I asked how often he had moved it down
the list. “I’ve been backing this one up for about a month now – it’s low
priority,” he said - “Just too many to handle”. It gave me a shiver when
he said that. I remembered Jack Royale (not his real name). Here’s
what happened to Jack some years ago – a true story.
Jack and his wife had lived in their new house in an
exclusive neighborhood in Sarasota just three months when she began to have
trouble breathing. Jack suspected mold due to water intrusion between the
first and second floors so he called his builder, U.S. Home to see where it was
coming from. The builder’s representative performed a cursory
inspection and then stonewalled Jack, telling him the house had been properly
finished, and sealed with stucco and that U.S. Home would accept no
responsibility for the mold. Jack hired another contractor, and an
engineer, and had a section of the side of his house removed for
inspection. What he discovered set off a chain of events that had ripple
effects across the country. The bracing attaching the upper wooden half
of the house to the lower concrete block half was not in accordance with the code. The two halves had separated and the house was leaking badly when
it rained, causing the mold.
Here’s the short version of the consequence of his
discovery. Over 30 front-page articles over the next year and a half in
the newspaper. Word spread and investigations were started in U.S. Home
developments in Tampa, California, and Colorado over reported defects.
Multiple lawsuits were filed. The vice president of the company was investigated.
One building official was fired, another one quit, and another was
reassigned. New inspectors were hired. U.S. Home spent millions
buying back homes and repairing others. They completely redesigned their
two-story homes implementing a new construction method. The county even
re-wrote the standard for the application of stucco. U.S. Home has since
been bought by another national home builder.
The very expensive lesson they learned is this: Take
care of every customer, no matter how trivial you may believe their concern is
or how important you perceive that customer to be to your business. As
U.S. Home learned every customer is important to your business. And if
we’re smart, we’ll learn from their experience - pay attention.