Customer satisfaction and resultant referrals and repeat business are among business requisites that successful remodelers swear by. Although most remodelers pride themselves on their customer service and referrals from satisfied clients, homeowners don’t always see it the same way, the results of Qualified Remodeler’s annual Remodeling Customer Satisfaction Survey suggest.
“Customer satisfaction is among the most important things a remodeling business can focus on,” says Geoff Graham, founder of Atlanta-based GuildQuality, a firm that conducts customer satisfaction surveys on behalf of many remodeling firms. “Great customer satisfaction correlates with business longevity.”
An important measure of satisfaction is whether a homeowner would refer his remodeler to a friend, and according to this year’s survey less than two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents would do so. Only a slightly higher number (66 percent) would hire the same remodeler again. Compared to previous years, the number of homeowners who would recommend their remodeler to a friend has remained fairly constant, but those who would hire that contractor again has improved considerably, up from barely half in 2009.
70 Percent Did Not Accept the
It is particularly noteworthy under economic conditions in which most remodelers perceive clients as demanding the lowest possible price that more than 70 percent of homeowners surveyed did not accept the lowest bid. Further, those who paid a bit more were generally more satisfied and willing to recommend their remodeler to a friend (65 percent for those who did not accept the low bid vs. 56 percent who chose the low bidder).
“It’s about the relationship,” says Lorraine Kotyk, director of Jacksonville, Fla.-based RenovationExperts.com, QR’s partner for the survey. “I think if there’s a good relationship and trust between the remodeler and homeowner, the remodeler is going to be successful.”
Remodeling is an unavoidably disruptive activity and a potential source for dissatisfaction, but remodelers appear to be doing a good job of preparing their clients for the temporary disarray, according to 81 percent of respondents. Seventy-four percent agreed that their remodeler attempted to ease the disruption by leaving the jobsite swept and organized at the end of the day. An overwhelming number of respondents (95 percent) did not move out of their homes during remodeling, making this attention to cleanliness and neatness a priority.
Clients generally felt their remodeler did a good job of keeping them informed about the progress of the job (76 percent), an improvement over scores of less than 60 percent just two years ago. Likewise, 77 percent judged their remodeler to be honest and trustworthy.
Low Scores for Expertise
Homeowners, however, tended to give low scores to their contractors’ expertise on all things relating to remodeling, splitting almost evenly between agree and disagree on the question. Nevertheless, in a seeming contradiction, 80 percent said they agreed with their remodeler’s recommendation for products, such as doors, windows, flooring, fixtures, cabinets or appliances.
Despite that so much information is available directly to consumers, remodelers have the opportunity to become gatekeepers and industry leaders, says Kotyk. “Homeowners get overwhelmed by the information and are looking for an expert who knows what works and what doesn’t work to steer them in the right direction,” she says.
It is significant that remodelers tended to score higher in individual task performance ratings, such as cleanliness, communication and trustworthiness, than on the ultimate recommendation scale. Addressing that incongruity should be a strategic undertaking for any remodeler who wants to improve his all-important referral rate.