Clout…It’s a Good Thing

Working with Strite

While the threat of never doing business again with someone who you feel has let you down might seem like real leverage in this competitive world of ours, that ultimatum has less weight when the service in question is one that you may only need once every few decades — or never again.

I’m in the throes of some projects involved with putting my house on the market.  Penny ante stuff, really.  Minor roof repair, sink and window replacements, touch up painting, electrical work, etc.  While I could have asked Strite to manage the whole kit and caboodle, I quite nobly felt that these tasks would be a petty distraction to the more important business of taking care of our clients.  “Heck,” I figured, “I can be my own GM.  After all, I work for a remodeling company!”

When it comes to a major remodel project, the option I chose is only a viable one for those with the luxury of time (not to mention patience).  For some who go this route, it is as much about the intrinsic pleasure of getting “hands on” as it is about financial constraints — especially if they have some construction experience under their tool belts to begin with.  My own recent experience, however, has highlighted one advantage of working with a professional remodeling company that is a more understated part of our value proposition.  It boils down to one word: clout.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but let’s take just one example of what I mean: replacing a roof.  Assuming that you did your homework on finding a qualified person or company, you may find that they fulfilled their contractual obligation (i.e., installed a serviceable roof), but gave terrible service.  They didn’t return calls.  They didn’t show up at the time (or day) they committed.  They were dismissive of questions or concerns you may have expressed — any of the things that tend to dog the reputations of construction service providers and support business models like Angie’s List.

While the threat of never doing business again with someone who you feel has let you down might seem like real leverage in this competitive world of ours, that threat has less weight when the service in question is one that you may only need once every few decades — or never again.  If your local grocery store doesn’t measure up to your expectations, switching to a competitor has an impact that is felt far more frequently — not to mention accumulatively.  In the case of a roofer with atrocious customer skills, however, losing a potential repeat customer is less consequential.  It’s simply on to the next gig — which in a decent economy may be easy to find.

It’s a very different story if the dissatisfied “customer” is a professional remodeling company.  If one of the trades we engage doesn’t perform to our satisfaction (or more to the point, to our client’s satisfaction), they put at risk a relationship that represents a stream of business over a period of years.  That’s leverage — or to put it more colloquially, that’s clout.

Of course, in the case of Strite, there’s at least an equal amount of carrot to go along with the stick.  We choose our trades folk very carefully, and we take good care of those relationships.  In return, the trades we engage want to keep us (and our clients) happy, not only because of the immediate financial benefit they get from working with us, but because we lighten their overhead burden through our contribution of skilled project management staff and systems.  Above all, we treat them like true partners in our intertwined success.  Clout, as it turns out, IS a good thing — especially when it’s wielded in the context of fairness, respect, and a concern for the other guy’s bottom line.  The heavy hand can just as easily be a pat on the back as a dope slap.

When you think about it, everybody is somebody’s customer — and one of our mantras is, “When you’re a customer of Strite, you’re a customer for life.”  That’s real clout!