Best Of The Best
2013 Contractors Of The Year Put Strong Focus On Processes And Customer Relationships To Find Success
Do you ever wonder what makes some contractors so successful? Do you try to figure how they always have a steady flow of customers that satisfied and recommend them to their friends, family, and strangers alike?
To put it simply, some contractors have figured out the processes and implemented systems that make being successful much easier. They are seen in their market areas as leaders and are often recognized by the industry as the best of the best.
As the 2013 ACCA Contractors of the Year, Rich Morgan, president of Magic Touch in Mesa, AZ, and Denny Terrell, president, and Keith Paton, vice president of service of Ivey Mechanical Co., LLC in Kosciusko, MS, share their companies’ secrets to success.
It’s All About The Customer Experience
For both companies, their customers are the main focus. Each knows that providing an exceptional experience leads to long-term relationships and referrals.
When you talk to Morgan, it’s like talking to someone you’ve always known. This is how he wants his employees to make their customers feel.
Honesty is what really sets Magic Touch apart from its competitors. When Morgan speaks of being honest with customers, he explains, “We tell the customer what they really need to achieve the level of comfort they expect and frankly deserve. That may mean that we recommend duct modifications, high efficiency or multi-stage equipment, insulation, etc., and it may be more expensive than what the customer was expecting to pay.”
And Morgan admits this honesty has lost him sales to other contractors who will simply suggest “switching out the box,” he feels offering real solutions that will solve his customers’ problems is the better option.
“Giving great customer service and taking the whole home approach isn’t just something we want to give our customers, it’s something we have to give our customers, it’s our company culture, and it’s the right thing to do,” says Morgan.
On the commercial side Ivey Mechanical has made the customer experience uniform for all of their clients. This might sound like a tough task that offers little flexibility in meeting clients’ needs, but that is far from the truth.
“Our goal is for every customer to see the same company, regardless of where they are in our service area,” says Terrell. “To make this happen we created the Ivey Red Book, which lays out the way we do business, step-by-step. We have had this book for over 25 years, and sure we have tweaked it, but it has pretty much stayed the same.”
Paton adds, “We understand that each employee has their own personality, but we have worked to create a strong regional footprint, and these standards help ensure that footprint will continue to stay strong in our market areas.”
While some might want to run and hide from rapid moving technology, embracing it has been key to Magic Touch’s success. Its presence on Twitter and Facebook help them stay in touch with their customers and share their story. However, its use of customer review sites, like Angie’s List and Kudzu, has really been what has helped them the most.
Morgan explains the need for this focus by saying, “Have you ever booked a hotel room based on the pictures the hotel provided only to get there and find it looks nothing like the picture you saw? When I book a hotel room I read the reviews from people that have actually stayed there, the good and the bad and then make a decision.”
“Everyone turns to the internet nowadays to do his or her research and they want to see what others experience has been,” he continues.” Any business can say they are #1, yada-yada-yada…we encourage our clients to publicly post their experience.”
This gives them the opportunity to get genuine customer feedback and to correct any issues that customers may not have been willing to tell the company directly. It also give them the opportunity to stand out as the best when they get things right.
Diversification To Stand Out
Ivey Mechanical has not always been a commercial only company. They slowly moved from residential contracting to light commercial to solely commercial. This was a game changer for the company, because it gave them the ability to set themselves apart from other contractors and it helped them move to the next level of success. But, it wasn’t necessarily easy.
“When we made the decision to go from residential contracting to commercial contracting, we took it slow,” says Terrell. “We started by bidding on small commercial projects, then we moved to government work, and then to healthcare. It was a transition. We took it slow to make sure that we were doing things correctly and building our name and reputation as a company that people wanted to work with.”
By diversifying their services, it prepared them for growth in different markets and created the ability to be profitable regardless of how the economy or other outside factors affected the market.
For example, in the past federal government contracting made up anywhere from 30 – 50 percent of their business, but now that the federal government has started pulling back on spending, so has Ivey Mechanical’s focus.
“Having a variety of service offerings is a little like juggling plates,” adds Paton, “You get one going well, then you move to the next, but you always have to go back and check on the first one to keep it going, so it doesn’t fall.”
Training To Stay Ahead
Just like elite athletes constantly train, the best contractors in the industry have comprehensive training programs as well.
For Ivey Mechanical, training comes in many different forms. While they train on the procedures in the “Ivey Red Book,” they also offer training programs to ensure that their employees are up-to-date on information and are performing at the highest level possible.
“We do a mix of training for our employees, both in-house and offsite training” says Terrell. “We do weekly training and then we do company training workshops. We’ll take 25 to 30 employees offsite for three to four days and work on management related issues and training.”
Paton adds, “We try to do as much training as we can in-house, but we don’t hesitate to bring in trainers. The key is finding trainers that meet our needs.”
Magic Touch also feels a variety of training that is individualized for each employee is critical to its success.
“We continue to increase our budget for training each year,” says Morgan. “We also individualize it to each person, because we realize we have different levels. Some of it is voluntary and some of it is mandatory, but we get very little push back because we pay for it and our employees realize that this is an investment we are making in them and their future.”
Both companies are honored to have been named 2013 Contractors of the Year; and neither has any intentions of slowing down.
Ivey Mechanical is currently working on the Ivey Blue Book, which will be a service standard operation book. This book will be used to strengthen their service operations and continue to assure customers in every area that they are “People you can rely on.”
Magic Touch still sees a lot of areas for growth and is not ready to sit back and ride out their success.
“If you follow the ‘three parties involved’ rule; the client, the employee, and the company in every situation, you will never come out on the wrong side,” says Morgan.
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