If your look to the root of most problems we face as people, they often come back to challenges on communication. “What we have here is failure to communicate” is a common saying for a reason.
Customer service is a constant focus of Foundation 1 and we have a number of communication measures in place to help ensure you end the project even happier with us than you started it. Here are a few suggestions on how we can improve communications in the process to start with the process.
This starts with the evaluation. We have one of our structural evaluators visit your property to identify the source of the problem and then design a repair plan and bid. This really sets the tone for the overall project and its success. There are a number of steps you can take to improve this process.
First, is to be present for the evaluation. Being on site with us is especially important. Yes, we are the experts at foundation repair, but you are the expert about the problems you perceive about your home. The more you can share with us about your concerns, and some of the specifics about them, the better.
This is so valuable that it even makes sense to write down the issues you are having with your home. We want to ensure we are on the same page with the problems you hope to solve. The evaluator will compare this to the observations and measurements made at the home. Working together in a good dialogue your helps to better define the scope of the project. (Please note, we do 100% CUSTOM bids and do not really promote any “canned” recommendations. This increases the importance of good communications.)
Also important here is that sometimes one spouse is more focused, knowledgeable, and potentially critical about the ultimate solution. We have seen circumstances where this individual is NOT present for the evaluation and the other spouse (who may be less involved with the details of the problem and desired situation, etc) basically lets our evaluator in the house, and does not much more to communicate the problem and expectations. Obviously, we start the project on a much better foot if the more critical spouse is on site during the evaluation.
If this is not possible, it is smart to have that spouse communicate with our evaluator on the phone. The best time for this would be after the evaluation, but before the evaluator submits the bid / repair plan. In this case, the telephone call can help to ensure those expectations are communicated to our evaluator and the solution is designed with all of the input from the customer.
Once the bid / repair plan is submitted to the customer, this is also an opportunity to improve communications to ensure we are on the same page. It is important to understand that your evaluator is available to answer any questions you have relating to the repair plan and bid at any time during the process.
Reading the bid carefully is an important step the customer can take to ensure we have a strong project. The text in the bid is directly used to populate the form used by the Foreman on the job. So the description of work described in the bid is really important. Your evaluator DOES have the ability to write in additional comments. Our evaluators try to ensure that all commitments made to the customer do show up in the bid, but if you notice something that you want done is NOT described in the bid, please bring that up with the evaluator to make sure we get that into the language of the bid, and thus communicated to the team who will be doing your job.
The next step is when the project starts. The day to day communications about the job should be with the Foreman on the project. It is important to know your foreman’s name and he should give you a card at the start of the project, as well as provide you updates during the project. Having regular conversations with the foreman during the job is an excellent way to ensure your questions are answered and that any concerns you have are brought to his attention.
The Foreman also reports to an Operations Director who will likely stop by your job, as well. If you have any concerns about the Foreman, you can contact the Operations Manager (the Foreman will have a copy of his card) or you can call the office directly. The Office Manager is available back in the office to help alleviate any concerns as well. Your evaluator can also be a resource for you in this instance as well.
If at all possible, plan to spend a few minutes with the Foreman at the conclusion of each workday (usually at 4:30 pm). At that time, he can brief you on the project, progress made, timing for next steps, and be available to answer any questions. Again, this helps to ensure you are completely “in the loop” pertaining to the job.
We will also do a more expanded review of the job at the end of the project. Being present for this meeting is even more important, as this helps to make sure that any remaining project steps are completed at that time. If you are not present, we will wrap the project up positively according to our procedures, but if you are present and there are any last minute requests, we can almost always accommodate.
We all like to be nice and, to some extent, try to avoid conflict. But good communications certainly rely on being honest and forthright if any questions or concerns arise. We want you to bring any issues you might have to our attention. We can fix what we know about, but may not address issues that we are not aware of. (We are not mindreaders.) Our goal is good communications, so we request that you be courageous about bringing forward any concerns, but also respectful. This tends to lead to the best outcome. People sometimes avoid honest feedback to avoid conflict, but we find that honest feedback can be brought forward in a manner in which we both on the same team, working to finish up the project in the most positive way possible.
If concerns or problems arise during the project, the best first step is to contact your Foreman. He will be on site and is responsible for managing the project; we also empower the Foreman to do what is necessary to keep you happy. If concerns arise after the project, it is probably best to call or email the office. The Office Manager will assess the problem and get you in touch with the person best able to answer the question.
During your project, you might have interaction with a number of people from our office including an Evaluator, Foreman, Office Manager, Operations Manager, and even the Owner. With this number of people, we want to get you to the person who can be help you address your question or concern. We view the fact that a whole team of people is working on your project as a major positive factor. If, in the case of a challenging problem, we will pull this team together to identify solutions. Input from a team can really add a richness to addressing any challenges.
Lastly, one final suggestion on communication improvements, and this goes both ways, empathy can be a really powerful force in communications. Too often, in conflict situations, we tend to assume the best about ourselves, and the worst about the other. This tends to limit the number of ways to solve the problems at hand. When we assume the best about our customers, we understand that they simply have a challenge and are doing their best to get a solution. When customers assume the best about us, they recognize that we get up every morning with the best intentions to serve the customer. When challenges arise, communicating with empathy, as well as a focused effort to resolve to your satisfaction often leads to better results.
As the owner of Foundation 1, I can tell you that customer service is a huge focus. Part of the reason why I wrote this blog was for our team to use as training for improving the way they do their jobs every day. The company’s commitment, as well as my own, is to work hard to serve the interest of our customers and to earn happy customers who tell their friends.
Thank you for reading and for working with my team and I. We look forward to working for you and with you to address all of your foundation repair and basement waterproofing needs.
Curt Clinkinbeard, Owner