I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “loyalty is not a given, it has to be earned.” I agree wholeheartedly with this. As an owner of a full service remodeling company for more than 35 years, I can attest that remodelers are a fiercely loyal group and will continue to do business with their suppliers as long as there is mutual trust, respect and honesty.
As a veteran of the industry, here are some tips that I can provide to help you earn loyalty with your remodeling contractor customers:
1. Treat our people and clients with respect and interest
One important factor in earning my company’s loyalty is to establish a relationship. When my key people are on a first name basis with sales people, it makes a huge difference. Furthermore, when I need to contact my sales rep, I expect to get a human on the other end of the phone. Five seconds on a recorded call that directs you to a list of numbers to press seems like eternity!
You can’t fake concern. People want to work with people that they like and who are engaging. “Yeah, what do you need?” doesn’t come close to a familiar friendly voice that first says with sincerity, “Hey Don, how are you today? How can I help you?”
Nice people like to work with nice people. The “atmosphere” at a LBM showroom can be good or bad. When our clients visit a showroom, how they are treated is a reflection on our company. Why? Because we sent them there! That stranger in Aisle #5 asking dumb questions might just be my best customer. Remember to treat others how you would like to be treated.
2. Educate us on products
Trying new materials and methods of construction is uncomfortable for tradesmen (whether they admit it or not). Helping our crew to understand the best products and applications of products offered is very helpful. We appreciate dealers who invite our employees to attend lunch-and-learns. It’s a great way for dealers and remodelers to get to know each other. We will not shop price when we know we have the benefit of education from our LBM. I’d rather pay more for quality and product knowledge.
3. Work with us on solutions
Not everything is routine when it comes to remodeling. At times there needs to be a fair amount of discussion regarding cost/value. A wide range of project budgets and types of projects means jobs are rarely the same. We appreciate LBMs who are flexible and can help us solve problems.
4. Help support the industry
Dealers that get involved in our trade associations show a commitment to us. We don’t forget that. It is not all just “sticks and bricks.” We have industry issues that require us to have a united front if we are to succeed. Government regulations, insurance, environmental, health and safety are all concerns that we look to LBM dealers for support. If business is good and profitable we thrive, so do our dealers!
5. Provide prompt service, timely and accurate billing, and realistic delivery dates
We make commitments to our clients based on dates we are given by our LBM dealers. If those dates are realistic, we look good. If they are not, we look bad, real bad. We understand, but clients are not always so understanding of delays.
In addition, quick and accurate invoicing is important to us. Yes, believe it or not, we like to get bills quickly! The sooner we have our costs, the quicker we can invoice our clients. Timeliness is essential to any remodeling contractor. Scheduling remodeling projects is as intense as being an air traffic controller at O’Hare on a busy day. If an order is late (or wrong), it can be a financial setback for us. It’s not just the material, but redirecting several employees can be very challenging.