Leads for new business remain scarce. A recent survey of remodelers conducted by The Farnsworth Group found that 42 percent see “finding work/sales and marketing” as their biggest challenge in the future, up from 34 percent two years ago. That is why satisfied customers – those willing to hire again or refer – are worth their weight in gold. Add-in the word-of-mouth factor, and satisfied customers become even more valuable.
Bad news travels faster than good news. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, dissatisfied customers tell 9 to15 people about their bad experience while happy customers tell 4 to 6 people about their positive experience. This means that for every dissatisfied customer you create, you need two satisfied customers just to offset the negative talk. What follows are five simple ways to boost your chances of leaving your customers satisfied.
1. Measure satisfaction
The adage “what gets measured, gets done” applies here. Numerous studies on the subject show that measuring customer satisfaction does not need to be complicated. Two questions: willingness to refer to a friend and willingness to hire again each correlate very strongly with overall customer satisfaction. Hiring a third-party firm like Woodland, O’Brien and Scott  or GuildQuality  will give you even more accurate results. When the results come in, areas required for improvement become obvious.
2. Set realistic expectations
Remodeling is an inherently disruptive process from the client’s perspective, particularly if they are living in the home while it is being remodeled. Many leading remodelers stop to make this point clear to their clients before their jobs commence. Houston remodeler Dan Bawden  went so far as to create a “Funk Chart” for his presentation book that maps out the fluctuations of a typical customer’s emotions at each major juncture of a project – euphoria at the beginning, a low point in the middle when things seem to be moving too slowly and happiness at the end.
3. Communicate regularly and carefully
Satisfaction-savvy remodelers employ numerous ways to create open and regular communication with their customers throughout the duration of a job. Some tout the benefits of a jobsite notebook where, at the end of each day, a summary of events is handwritten to the client who can use the same notebook to ask questions back etc. Others schedule weekly face-to-face meetings with clients. And still more use text messaging or even social media like Twitter and Facebook to stay in touch. Careful communication pertains specifically to client requests of jobsite personnel that should need to be captured and written up as a change order – moving electrical receptacles etc.
4. Keep the jobsite clean
Studies have shown that remodeling clients who say their jobsite is left clean at the end of each day express much greater levels of satisfaction with their remodelers. This stands to reason, as clients have little professional knowledge of construction by which to judge a job in progress. Cleanliness signals attention to detail and respect for the clients property.
5. Finish jobs on time
This goes partly hand-in-hand with setting realistic expectations about the ups and downs of a typical remodeling project. Clients tend to be overly optimistic about when their jobs will be complete and their lives can go back to normal. It is important to know if a client expects to serve Thanksgiving dinner in their new kitchen. Build a schedule that allows plenty of time for unforeseen obstacles. Clients are euphoric when jobs are done early and tend to get saltier with each passing day beyond the original deadline.
There are plenty of additional ways to create satisfied customers who in turn feed new leads back to your business, but tackling these five will certainly get you more than halfway there.