There I Said it “Service”.

December 7, 2016 by Bob Ernst


Thirty years ago, I decided to go into business for the reason so many do: I thought I had an idea that would work better. After having spent a number of years learning the trade and working in clients’ homes on behalf of several bosses, I had noticed an all too familiar pattern—the clients in whose homes I was working seemed to appreciate the quality of the work we were doing, but they were overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the overall experience of dealing with our company.

I also was constantly reminded by everyone I knew that builders and remodelers were not generally considered to be the most reputable, fair, or even ethical businessmen out there. I was perplexed, and I did not understand how this profession could somehow attract all the least desirable folks to open shop. I was further confused by the fact that the majority of people that I knew in the business, including my various bosses, seemed like very regular, caring people—albeit a bit demoralized, I must say. Was I naïve? Was everyone else right? Did one have to be a bit of a lowlife to be in this business, or was everybody else just wrong? Of course, I realized, neither of these could be entirely true.

Certainly, our clients seemed to have legitimate and sincere complaints

but when I spoke to my boss he was equally adamant that their requests and expectations were unfair. He felt that they were getting what they asked for and what he had agreed to.

Well, I didn’t go to college, but it didn’t take me long to see what was happening here. The number of times he dismissed complaints asking, “what do they expect” or that I heard clients say, “he isn’t living up to the expectations he set” made it easy (or so I thought then) to see the problem and the solution: if you wanted to avoid frustration on both ends and ensure complete customer satisfaction, it’s vital to clarify the clients’ expectations, and then meet those expectations! My career, my struggles, and any success I have had over the last three decades were launched on that singular notion.

The ensuing years and the relationships I have developed with hundreds of clients since then have continued to demonstrate that I was right about the need for this “revolutionary idea” in the building and remodeling world, but they’ve also disproven my notion of how easy it would be.

I’ll share some of my journey, my goals, my successes and my failures along the way in the coming posts. And I hope that if you’re reading this and you’re working on your home or considering doing so, or if you’re working in this industry or considering entering it, you’ll gain some perspective from my posts that might help you be better consumers, design or trade partners or service providers. THERE, I SAID IT: “SERVICE.”

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