Service and Your Construction Business

Service is the way you set your construction business apart.

Service is paramount

Service is what distinguishes your construction company from the others. You know it is true. Those working for you should know it’s true – but some won’t.

And, the sad part is, some of those who offer up poor service while representing your construction business will be the loudest protestors when they receive poor service elsewhere. Some people just ain’t got no manners! 😲

Just as Supreme Court justice, Potter Stewart could, while explaining pornography, say, “I know it when I see it,” we all know excellent service when we see it.

When you develop a company culture which goes beyond “be nice” you develop a company both potential clients and potential employees will seek out.

Let me put that another way. When your construction business is built on integrity, dignity, and courtesy clients will want to work with you and tradesmen will want to work for you.

Service is more than a word

It is an attitude. Passing on an attitude of excellent service to your employees and subs is your only defense from poor-service-syndrome. Be clear. Make sure everyone who represents your construction business (and uh, that means everyone in your employ or under your supervision) understands this is a bottom line issue.

Think about it, the thing your clients are most likely to remember is the direct interaction they have with you and those who represent your company.

Bad service example

Sometimes you can see it headed your way. Sometimes you’re blindsided.

Recently, my son-in-law made an appointment to have his truck serviced by the dealership where he purchased it. He showed up at the appointed time only to find he wasn’t on the schedule. Although that was an irritating moment it could have been soothed over in a number of ways.

But. It. Wasn’t!

Rather than saying, “Oh no, we’re sorry, we made a mistake,” the answer was “You didn’t make an appointment.” When my son-in-law used his phone record to prove he had indeed made an appointment the follow up answer was delivered dead-pan (with no emotion) and went like this, “You’re not on the schedule, we can’t fit you in, you’ll have to make an appointment.” While that last statement was (in all likelihood) true, it was also an example of customer service gone awry.

Good service example

This one is easy. It is what we typically receive on any given day and at any given business. You’re greeted when you approach the clerk. Someone asks if you want your items packaged a certain way. The wait-staff offers a refill on your drink before it is empty. You’re asked where you can be directed to find what you want. You transact your business and you move on.

You’re neither angry, nor inspired to write a glowing review of the great service you just received. It is normal. Almost every person or business rises to the level of good service.

Exceptional service example

Disney.

You’ve heard it before and from your own experience have likely encountered the exceptional service provided by Disney employees. I mean, just think, they even have the Disney Institute where business owners and organizations go to learn about providing exceptional service. How cool is that?

Oh, by the way, here is something that should be near and dear to the heart of every construction contractor – safety is the first priority when employees are being trained in “the Disney way.” I didn’t know that, did you?

Good and exceptional service compared

Good – A few weeks ago, I was with the family at a bar-b-que restaurant where I noticed my grandchildren had chosen side dishes of macaroni and cheese. It looked good to me and I commented on it. A few minutes later one of the wait staff put a small, plastic container in front of me with enough mac and cheese in it for me to decide that, yes, I would order a dish for myself.

Exceptional – Not too long ago, several family members gathered at Disney World for a reunion. One of the family members noticed that another of the group had a bowl of soup which looked good to her. She mentioned to the person eating it she would like to try it sometime. Within minutes a bowl of the soup was placed in front of her by a member of the wait staff courtesy of Disney.

Both were small gifts, one was simply better than the other.

Develop or update your service policy

Pay attention when you’re with your clients. Solicit their feedback before, during, and after each project. Ask questions. Try to understand their needs and goals and then do your best to make them your own.

Be prepared to always step to the plate. Never wait, hide, or sugar coat a problem. No matter how bad it is, deal with all issues with honesty and integrity. After addressing a problem, be ready with a solution. Let your client know how your team will deal with the problem. Your reputation depends on it.

Empower your employees with a flexible  approach. Devise guidelines for your team members that allow plenty of freedom to handle customers on a case-by-case basis. Include information concerning priority solutions and “go-to” fixes for common problems. Define the service principles and standards which guide all interactions within your construction business.

Service givens

Providing excellent service is a matter of having good excellent manners.

You and everyone working for you are a part of your Service Department.

Customer service supersedes skill levels and product delivery.

Poor service on any level reflects on every level.

Your employees will only work to the level of your personal standard.

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Performance-Based Bonus Programs That Don’t Stink – Part 1

bonus programs and incentives that don't stink

bonus programs and incentives that don't stink

Some bonus programs stink

Bonus programs based on the wrong parameters or instituted poorly can be really yucky for everyone. Your team loses, you lose, and you throw your hands up in despair thinking bonus programs are a waste of time and (more importantly) a waste of money.

Yet, if you get it right, the win-win effect takes place bringing everyone (including your clients) into a much better place. Instituting bonus incentives in your construction contracting or service business is worth the time and effort.

A bad example

One of the best companies I ever worked for made a honking mistake when they first instituted a bonus program which offered a rather stunning reward. I mean, who do you know who wouldn’t want to have an all-expense paid, eight-day vacation with the person of his or her choice in a foreign land while the paycheck continued to roll in?

In case you’re wondering if I’m calling sour grapes simply because I never achieved the bonus, think again. I did achieve the bonus. My hubby and I were delighted to be a part of the group which arrived in Thailand ready for an adventure. Yet, we were only able to go because the company realized after the first disastrous year they had made a parameter mistake when instituting the bonus.

There isn’t reason to go into all the details, but you’ll understand what went wrong when I mention that the goal which was set the first year could only be reached by a limited number of employees. It had to do with location. The folks who could reach the particular goal set for that year all lived in metropolitan areas. Those of us who had no hope for reaching the goal lived in rural areas. And yes, you guessed right. When we first learned what the goals were, we looked at each other, smiled, and mentioned that we weren’t possibly going to reach that goal. So, nothing in our behavior changed.

The point is, when setting goals for your team, be sure they are attainable. That doesn’t mean make it easy, it just means the goal should be one everyone in your employ can see hope of achieving. Which brings me to my next point.

Achievement rather than performance

Ah, words. Words can mess with our minds. This report from the University of Michigan will give you more insight into the validity of choosing words which are more in line with what you want to convey.  So, there is every reason to choose the correct word when determining what it really is that you want to accomplish. The word performance tends to remind us of a stage. When a person is asked to perform there is the concept of getting it right for the sake of the audience (in this case the boss.) But, when a person is asked to achieve the idea inherent in the word is that of making ones-self better. You can see how that simple change in words will set the right tone for introducing bonuses to your team. It will also aid you in determining parameters that are highly advantageous for all involved.

Achievement-based bonus program

Perhaps stating what an achievement-based program is NOT will be helpful. It is not:

  • A freewill gift (for instance a Christmas or Chanukah present)
  • Delivered randomly without a plan
  • A tenure bonus (although this is close)
  • An employee referral program (yet it will add juice to your attempts to gain employable referrals)
  • A signing bonus

Now, let’s talk about what a well-executed achievement-based bonus program IS. While you can make a case for “a job well done is its own reward,” you must admit raising the bar with extra incentives is a useful tool in your management toolbelt. When you reward accomplishment, you help people achieve more (sometimes more than they thought themselves capable) and you:

  • Increase teamwork and camaraderie
  • Decrease unsafe practices
  • Escalate productivity
  • Improve customer service
  • See your business improve

Results are what count

After all, incentives are all about achieving specific results rather than simply doing a good job.

In part two of this 3-part post we’ll talk about how to determine which bonus initiatives will be most advantageous for your construction contracting company. There will be information on how to implement the program. And there’ll be the part about “which incentives to give.”

 Contact us here or call 866-629-7735.