Consistent Customer Satisfaction More Important Than Profit
Many years ago my good friend and original business partner, Peter Nugent, made a simple comment: “no matter how big the profit is on any one project it won’t be enough to retire on”. We were discussing our business philosophy shortly after starting Long Life together in 1989, and we recognized that the key to our long term success was totally dependent on the satisfaction of every customer we did work for. This is obviously not a novel concept, but one that often gets pushed aside when some type of dispute or misunderstanding comes up. If a business consistently has the attitude that it is worthwhile to go to great lengths to ensure clients are happy, then the business will attract new customers.
Culture Throughout Staff and Partners Ripples to Happy Customers
This culture, of genuinely caring about customer experience, filters through the entire organization and has many benefits that we didn’t originally foresee:
- Tradespeople are much happier in their work and take more pride in what they do because they know the company wants them to always do their best and use the best materials; even if it costs more and takes longer. Plus, they are often the direct recipient of the customer satisfaction, which is usually expressed with warm gratitude for their effort. Job satisfaction gains loyalty and attracts the best tradespeople.
- Sales staff enjoy visiting job sites while the project is in progress because they know we are trying to do what is in the customer’s best interest, not just the company’s bottom line. No shortcomings to try and cover-up, and pleasant interaction with clients translates into stronger sales performance…when you’re all on the same side; everyone involved wants the very best outcome. This makes it much easier to deal with new potential clients.
- Front office staff don’t spend the day dealing with unhappy clients, but instead are the recipient of many positive contacts from customers. This makes for a rewarding day in the office, and builds loyalty.
- The business doesn’t need to spend nearly as much on advertising because satisfied customers spread the word for us.
Little did Peter and I realize the far reaching effects of putting our client’s satisfaction ahead of our desire for profits. Our business continues to grow because thousands of happy customers continue to tell friends and neighbours that we are good guys to do work with. Many of our tradespeople have been with us for decades, and the work environment is pleasant. That doesn’t mean we don’t have issues and problems on our projects from time to time; what it means is we have an attitude to work with our customers to get through the issues together. It’s never us against them…we’re always on the same side.
Reputation Leads to Referrals for Long Term Success
This business philosophy is certainly not new or unique. Most successful businesses that have been around for many years share this attitude. It means that they don’t have to continually spend buckets of money trying to promote their business, because new clients are attracted to them by their reputation and referrals from happy customers. This attitude becomes a culture; it’s who we are and drives all decisions.
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