Is providing excellent customer service important in today’s competitive marketplace? Winning more work seems to be everyone’s top priority. Most construction business owners use every waking moment trying to figure out how to lower their bids, reduce their costs, cut their overhead and trim their margins to get more work. Is this the only solution?
Several years ago, I got a call from Jim Didas, the CEO and co-owner of Range and Civil Construction LLC (RACC) in Junction City, Kan. He wanted to meet with me and his two business partners to update their business plan. As I got to know them better, I began to question their business strategy.
Their company mission statement is: “No Problems – Just Solutions!” The mission of RACC is to provide unparalleled construction services with efficiency and effectiveness. RACC is committed to 100 percent customer satisfaction through a partnered approach with our dedicated management team, experienced employees, comprehensive safety program, quality control systems, schedule-driven commitment, and cutting-edge methodologies.
Their No. 1 company key success factor is to, “Please and satisfy our customers to obtain excellent evaluations, build with excellence, superior quality, safe projects, and meet project schedules and deadlines.”
This seemed contradictory in the public works marketplace, but I realized they had designed their business development strategy focused on securing customers who value excellent service more than or equal with low price.
Putting the Customer First Pays Off!
RACC began in 2007, and the three owners had many combined years in building all types of civil construction projects for government entities. They decided Jim would be company leader, Brian would handle administration and finances, and Duke would handle field and equipment.
Their initial goals were to install a professional organization consisting of a supportive bank, a reactive bonding agent and a construction-oriented accountant. They soon realized they would have to find new customers and opportunities to make it on their own. During their first year, they bid over 20 pre-selected jobs within their target size and customer criteria until they landed their first contract in 2008.
Customer Focus = Win More Work!
RACC seeks customers who also value excellent work, construction performance, partnering through problems, a thorough understanding of the system, teamwork, a perfect safety record, and the ability to obtain top customer satisfaction ratings.
When bidding projects, they look for ways to implement their construction plan and satisfy the customer. The estimating team also looks for ways to build the project faster, with the best possible solution, and job-specific equipment. Faster jobs reduces overhead and satisfies customers.
For their first few projects, Duke and Jim supervised the jobs themselves with a goal to develop a winning team focused on satisfying customers. Over time, they hired experienced and qualified managers, field foreman, supervisors, etc., who had positive attitudes and strived for building with excellence.
Customer Focus = Company Growth!
Their company mission and vision has paid off, as the company has grown to $16 million plus and they have maintained a perfect safety record with zero lost time accidents. Their customer satisfaction ratings are almost 100 percent excellent.
Building a business that provides excellent customer service takes a major commitment and large investment. To ensure RACC achieves the highest ratings from their customers, they go way beyond the normal call of duty.
8 Business Building Secrets from Didas:
1. Secrets to building a great company:
I try to always remember that I run a business, not a project. We must continually focus on the eight traits of great companies. I also try to hire right and believe in our people. Let go and delegate. I often use the command “Manage it!” when people ask me to solve their problems for them. And, of course, please the customer!
2. Secrets to working with three owners:
The best thing is breaking our company management into three distinct categories: administration and finances; equipment management; and estimating and production. This way we can all focus on attention to detail and the ability to trust things are being taken care of. If in doubt, we attempt to have fun with it!
3. Secrets to building a great team:
Hire up; explain the mission; provide clear goals for customer satisfaction, safety, quality and the budget; systemize; ongoing training; and manage the process.
4. Secrets to doing quality work:
Focus on the details, explain and train expectations.
5. Secrets to a perfect safety record:
Mandatory daily safety meetings on every job, weekly tactical meetings on every job, provide regular safety training sessions, discuss potential hazards at the beginning of every task, and create a safety culture by embracing quick hazard recognition and corrections.
6. Secrets to making money:
Focus on the details, communicate production expectations, execute work superbly but quickly, please the client, and beat the estimates.
7. Keys to sustained growth:
We hold a two-day strategic planning retreat every year and update it every six months to stay on track. Knowing what future projects are being funded to keep the pipeline full. Focus on bonding growth.
8. Other tips for success:
Management and field: Focus on execution; that’s where the money is made.
Production: Do it right once!
Scheduling: Tie the construction schedule directly to the budget durations.
Financial: Secure enough operating capital to support growth and bonding.
Equipment: Rent unless utilization provides an equity position.
Estimating: Create a thorough scope and then price the scope.
Excellent Customer Service Pays Off!
Focusing on a single strategic objective and seeking customers who fit within your company mission guarantees success. By not wavering in their top priority to satisfy customers, RACC has grown their top-line revenue and bottom-line profits. They have a long list of happy customers who trust they will do an excellent job, and they have a strong team of experienced management and productive field employees dedicated to a respected fulfilling mission. Are you willing to get focused on providing the best customer service possible? Try it! It might also work for your company!
George Hedley is a professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker who helps contractors increase profits, grow and get their companies to work. To learn more, visit www.hardhatpresentations.com.