The Value of Scheduled Warranty Visits

Most remodelers have little interest in following up on maintenance items once a project is completed. They're making a mistake

October 07, 2015
That's All Folks image for the end of the job—most remodelers finish a job and don't follow up for warranty work

Most remodeling contractors I meet with want to back up their work and generally offer some kind of full-service warranty, usually for one year, although some will cover workmanship for up to five years.

When I ask how often they actually call on past clients during the one-year warranty period, the answer is usually the same: they don’t. Unless that client calls with a problem, none of the remodelers actively contact past clients to check in.

Most say they are too busy, but I got a candid response from a salesperson that seemed to sum up the issue. He told me that he didn’t call past clients because he had moved on to the next sale. His commissions and future income depended on the sale of future projects, the bigger the better. He had little interest in following up on maintenance items once a project was completed.

I get it. Everyone wants to move onto the next project. What we tend to forget, however, is that unless we remodeled the entire house, the rest of that client’s home is now a candidate for additional work. We’ve made the hardest sale—the first one. The easiest marketing we can do is to build on that relationship with a formal warranty program that proactively schedules follow-up visits at the time we make the sale.

Following Up

On the surface, the purpose of the follow-up is to make sure all of the work you did is still functioning as intended. It also demonstrates reliability and professionalism. Given remodelers’ reputation for failing to show up, it impresses homeowners when you take the initiative to schedule a return visit.

But the real purpose is to create opportunities to meet with past clients to begin to identify future work. Two follow-up visits at, say, 180 and 360 days should be enough. One remodeler in Boulder, Colo., actually schedules three warranty visits.

About a week before the time for a follow-up warranty visit, send an email to let your client know. Keep it simple, something like this:

“I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to remind you that our 180-day warranty follow-up visit is coming up. We would like to send someone to test the smoke alarms, do minor paint touch-ups, inspect the caulk and grout, and just make sure everything is OK. Please let me know what times next week works for you and we will make it happen.”

This simple follow-up accomplishes a lot. First, it keeps the promise you made when you sold the job. Instead of disappearing after getting the final check, you’re coming back. Not only that, you’re coming back to do more work for free. That’s irresistible to most homeowners, some of whom will prepare a short list of items that need attention. In fact, it’s better for you if they do have a list because it validates the need for the visit. Do that work with a smile, and I guarantee that the homeowners will tell half the neighborhood. (In future columns, I’ll talk more about what qualifies as warranty work and what doesn’t, and how to talk with clients about the difference.)

Most importantly, you get an invitation to return to your client’s home to reengage them in a meaningful way. And it keeps you and your company uppermost in your clients’ minds when the need for a bigger project arises. Manage those relationships, and the work will follow!  PR

 

David Lupberger has been in the remodeling industry for more than 20 years and is author of Managing the Emotional Homeowner, The Remodelers Turnkey Program, and The Home Asset Management Plan. You can reach him at david@davidlupberger.com, or at 303.442.3702.

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Comments

We offer a lifetime warranty. As long as you occupy the home, we will always come back. Our unofficial motto is very simple, "You call, we come."  That doesn't mean what we do will be free, but we'll look at it and at least give you guidance on the best course of action and offer our assistance. That part is free. Rarely do we charge our clients for small items. For us, it's a chance to thank them for their business, ask about referring their family, friends and neighbors and then inquire about their next project.  We have numerous repeat clients who've either moved and bought another home or are now ready for that new kitchen, master suite or addition to their home. We send regular emails to remind our clients when freezing weather is approaching and we have an annual Client Appreciation evening at a local venue where we serve appetizers and drinks, all free to the client. It's been standing room only at these events and new clients are suitably impressed at the loyalty our past clients show us.

 

we have enough trouble with the image of dishonesty in construction Dave after reading what you said would certainly be devastating if only one customer found out why you really return on the surface you give good advice underneath not so much

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