In A Day's Work

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Among these 101 companies, compensation takes many forms — salary, commission, bonus, profit sharing, retirement plans, paid benefits, time off and a list of perks limited only by your imagination.

June 01, 2002
Gigi Scoggin, new home orientation specialist at History Maker Homes, helps homeowner Jacqueline Mayfield understand the features of her just-completed house.

Nothing ruins a workplace faster than unhappy customers. No amount of money, camaraderie, training, management leadership or corporate culture can make up for a job in which each workday is spent trying to soothe irate home buyers. Creating a company, a culture and a compensation system predicated on satisfying customers is one uniting aspect of these 101 companies.

At History Maker Homes, all success measurements start with the customer. “I have been in the home building business most of my adult life,” says Wally Sampson, vice president of construction for the Fort Worth, Texas, firm. “Now at age 50 I’ve finally found a company committed to delivering a world-class customer experience to their clients, most of whom are buying a home for the first time.” To ensure that every employee delivers on the mission statement — “We’re not just building homes, we’re building relationships” — History Maker monitors customer satisfaction as follows:

 

 

 

 

  •  Internal customer surveys are taken at a pre-construction conference, during framing and at closing.

     

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  •  Every buyer is contacted weekly during construction to ensure that customer expectations are being exceeded.

     

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  •  In each sales center, home buyers can complete a Question About My Home Card during construction or after move-in, and the builder responds to every inquiry within 24 hours.

     

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  •  Third-party surveys of new home buyers are done 30 days after move-in.

     

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  •  Customer service representatives inspect every home in the 11th month of ownership to locate and/or take care of any warranty items before the one-year period expires.

    History Maker also has begun sending its entire work force for customer service and leadership training to Rapport Leadership International. Front-line employees (construction managers, salespeople, warranty service reps, etc.) with the greatest customer contact are the first enrollees. “No one in the company is removed from the customer satisfaction experience,” says vice president/ administration Cindy Culpepper. “Delivering a world-class customer experience is included in every job description. Customer survey data is shared throughout the organization weekly, and our em-ployee award program is based on it.”

    History Maker’s commitment to creating satisfied customers makes the job of Gigi Scoggin, new home orientation specialist, much simpler. Scoggin meets with home buyers days before move-in and teaches them about the features of their new house, home maintenance requirements and their home warranty. On one of these walk-throughs, should Scoggin discover anything not up to the company’s quality standards, she is charged with making the call to get the necessary repair completed.

    “I am the eyes and ears of management in the field,” explains Scoggin. “My job is to be the voice of the customer back to the home office. Everyone at History Maker sincerely wants to build a quality home and world-class customer experience so that we earn the opportunity to build a lifelong relationship with our home buyers.”

    At Matt Plaskoff Construction, the “expectation is to build the best-quality product and deliver the same level of service,” says senior project manager Jason Metoyer. “It is nice to go to work and know that the boss expects you to go the extra mile for the customer and that you will be recognized for doing it. It is great to know that spending the extra dollar or two is not going to be questioned if it was to make the client happy.”

    Most of the Tarzana, Calif., company’s projects are in Southern California’s high-rent districts — Beverly Hills, Malibu and Pacific Palisades. “Our clients are used to and expect the highest-quality work, and that’s what our company delivers,” says estimator Phil Silver. “MPC guarantees its clients on-time and in-budget completion of their projects.” To deliver on this promise, the company holds weekly production meetings in which every active project is reviewed. Field staff, supervisors, project managers and office personnel analyze every aspect of each job — projected and actual profit margins to date, production issues, and work-related problems and solutions.

    “This regular communication helps eliminate issues that could become insurmountable problems,” says Silver. “It helps everyone in the organization understand every project so that each customer receives the same superior service and product.”

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