Southern California Giant Fieldstone Communities has found a new way to maintain strong relationships with past customers and make a buck doing so.
|Fieldstone Communities’ launch of Fieldstone Home Services helps the builder maintain strong relationships with past customers and make a buck while doing so.|
Early this year, Field-stone launched a business called Fieldstone Home Services that offers customer service contracts that essentially extend war-ranty coverage on appliances and major systems such as HVAC, plumbing and electrical for current buyers from one to five years. The new venture also markets one-year maintenance contracts to past customers whose warranty coverage has expired.
Another service covers many of the home maintenance elements not in-cluded in warranty contracts, such as changing furnace filters, keeping gutters and downspouts clear, and even changing light bulbs in fixtures on high ceilings. The company also is marketing handyman repair services to all homeowners in its marketing area, whether they live in a Fieldstone-built house or not.
“All builders struggle with the problem that as soon as we build a house and close it, it becomes a liability rather than an asset,” Fieldstone president Frank Foster says. “We see it only as something that will cost us money for warranty work. We spend a lot of money to get buyers, and then the relationship with them suddenly loses all of its positive characteristics. We’re trying to change that with Field-stone Home Services.”
The Newport Beach-based firm will close about 800 homes this year, so there’s a big potential market for the extended warranties, which sell for $950 to $1,150, depending on what’s covered. The annual checkup and service contract costs $285 to $445, depending on the house size. Fees for the fix-it service vary with the jobs.
Kelly Klaus, who is managing the new venture, says it required minimal new staffing to get it off the ground. “We have three coordinators working in the office and nine technicians in the field. We use our own warranty people to do some of the work, but it’s mostly done by our trade contractors and firms we subcontract for repair and fix-it jobs.”
Fieldstone field representatives check the work of subcontracted crews working under the Field- stone banner. “That’s how we control quality,” Foster says.
Neither Foster nor Klaus will reveal revenue projections for the first year of Fieldstone Home Services, but they claim all the surprises so far have been good ones. “We’re getting some service calls for big jobs, like painting houses for $3,000 or $4,000,” Foster says.
Klaus says, “We’ve concentrated our marketing efforts on our own current and past customers this year, so fix-it jobs for the general public represent only about 5% of our work so far. But we’ve closed 65% of the Fieldstone buyers we’ve pitched for extended warranty services, and we’ve captured 75% of the outside jobs we’ve bid.
“We’re also getting jobs we didn’t expect from people in the first year of living in a Fieldstone home. They are calling us for work in areas not covered in their warranties, like home decorating and window treatments. They’re also using us to put in some options and upgrades they chose to pass on before construction.”