Setting Expectations

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When clients know what’s coming, they handle the process of remodeling much easier

June 23, 2000

Massachusetts-based Capizzi Home Improvement has maintained both the same telephone number for 23 years and its status as a member of the Better Business Bureau for 20 years. This stability and success stem from what Tom Capizzi Jr. states is his company''s bottom line: 100 percent customer satisfaction.

Customer feedback is not a pioneering concept in the remodeling industry, but many businesses ask for evaluation only once--after a job is completed. Although such feedback is beneficial for future jobs, it leaves disgruntled customers whose problems may never be resolved. For companies such as Capizzi, that means loss of business. "We really count on repeat and return business," Capizzi says. "It is the name of the game."

To ensure that customers continue to use Capizzi Home Improvement, each project is run like a school, with an orientation, a mid-year evaluation and a final report card. Although the end result is the most important part of remodeling, it cannot be reached satisfactorily unless both customer and remodeler are in accordance throughout the entire construction process.

"There are three reasons why problems arise between customers and the remodeler: poor communications; expectations not met, usually due to unrealistic expectations; and unforeseen conditions," Capizzi says.

These issues are addressed in Capizzi''s pamphlet, "Preparing For the New Arrival." It prepares customers for the job installation and tells them what they can expect from the company. "The brochure is ''''''''in your face'''''''' in a nice way," Capizzi says. "It lets the customers know that there''''''''s going to be dirt, mess and time."

The pamphlet informs customers of potential problems before the job begins, so that job duration is not prolonged. "For example, we must have full-time access inside and outside the house during the entire job," Capizzi says. "A family can''''''''t leave on a three-week vacation and tell us that we will have to come back to work when they return." Company policy is addressed clearly and succinctly in the brochure:

  • "We need to utilize your yard...Such activity will cause wear on your landscape"
  • "Be prepared for the noise; it is unavoidable"
  • "When your job is approved, it is immediately entered into our work schedule. But did you realize that weather plays havoc on the schedule?"
  • "It is also not realistic for us to keep you informed of every part of the schedule due to the frequency and complexity of the process."

The customer initials a pre-installation checklist so that Capizzi knows that the customer has read the information and understands it.

Capizzi says that customers'' emotions tend to overshadow reality during construction, which places added pressure on the company. "Remodeling takes three months," Capizzi says. "It''s not realistic for a customer to expect us at the house eight hours a day for every day of the three months. There is going to be inspections and downtime." When problems do arise, customers have numerous avenues of assistance. "Depending on the job and the problem, there is a lead person that is the first man on the front line," Capizzi says. "There is also a production supervisor that drives around watching over jobs, and a salesperson."

After the job is completed, customers are asked to rate company expectations and policies. A questionnaire determines service and quality issues, such as if there were loud radios on the job site, and if the customer''s phone was used for long-distance calls, so that the customer can be reimbursed. The company is able to improve its service, and customers will return to the company for future remodeling needs.

"It''s a win-win situation," Capizzi says.

 

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