The tenant calls at 9pm complaining there is water pouring from the ceiling below the upstairs shower. Great. That’s the last thing I need right before I go to bed. But as a property manager, I have obligations to the services I offer. I do what I can from my home; I tell her to shut off the shower and don’t use it. What else can I tell her?
The next day I go to assess the damage. Yeah, there’s definitely a water leak. Of course I have no idea where to begin. Should I rip the sheetrock out? How much should I rip out? Is there anything that’s salvageable? I have no clue. So I call a contractor, the only logical thing I know to do. When I call, I get his voicemail. So I leave a message detailing the damage. I have no idea when to expect a call back from him, so I call another contractor to see if I can get them to come out, or at least give me some advice over the phone of some steps that I can make. Fortunately, I get him on the line; unfortunately he wouldn’t give me any advice on initial damage control. He seemed to have a control issue, or maybe he thought his knowledge was too valuable to give away for free.
Once I finally got someone out there, they only had 15-20 minutes to look at the damage and give an estimate. Really!? I felt like I was a burden to them. I had so many questions running through my head. Why would they dedicate only a short time to my problem? Are there other jobs that are more important than mine? Should I chose a different contractor?
On the same visit, they gave me an estimate, which I agreed to. Great! We’re going forward with this. OK see you next week….WHAT!! They didn’t even have the time to rip the water damaged sheetrock out. I had to wait another two weeks for them to come back out just to rip out the sheetrock. Then, once it was out, I had to wait another 5 days for it to air out.
The repairs went on for weeks, nearly a month. In my opinion, with the amount of help that the contractor had, the job should have taken 2 weeks max. The crew was also working on another job across town, which was a higher paying job, resulting in my rental taking the backburner. I have seen a common denominator in many contractors; they have to be at the job to micro manage their crew. They don’t have confidence in their crew to do the job right.
The final straw was when the job was complete. I did a once-over of the job and noticed that a piece of trim that ran along the edge of the tub had an exposed piece of wood that wasn’t painted. I asked him if he could paint it, and he said that his estimate did not include painting. He would have to charge me $80. This piece of trim would have taken maybe 15 to 30 minutes to paint. It showed me that my satisfaction wasn’t important to him.
From my experience, I would like to offer a few tips to increase customer satisfaction.
- Set up an answering service with a scheduler- Answerconnect.com offers answering services that range in price from $0.89 to $0.97 per minute. It is a very reasonable price to pay to provide excellent customer service. Allowing someone to specialize in an area will result in better customer satisfaction. Isn’t your goal customer satisfaction so you get those repeat customers? I know with maintenance, something that is inevitable in my industry, I go with the person that took care of me.
- Give the customer some idea of what they can do to make your job easier. If they can rip out sheetrock to let the water damage air out, tell them that’s something they can do.
- Block off a time where you can meet with the customer for at least an hour. This will allow for plenty of time to answer any questions they may have for you. If you can, try and schedule it first thing in the morning; it make the customer feel appreciated.
- If there is anything you can do on the initial visit, do it. Why wait two weeks for a small demolition job? This will save you a trip, saving time and gas.
- If at all possible, dedicate yourself to one job. The customers will appreciate it. If you must split your time between two jobs, have enough people to do both jobs at once. Give adequate training so that you can trust them to do the job right. You shouldn’t have to do all the work.
- Go the extra mile to make your customer satisfied. It will make repeat customers. When someone is spending money on repairs, they need to justify spending a significant amount. If they walk away saying, “At least they really tried to make me happy,” they won’t walk away with buyer’s remorse. Those who aren’t satisfied won’t call you again.