Scott A. Jacob, president and chief executive officer of Jacob Sunroom & Exteriors, Fairview Heights, Ill., consistently follows important tenets created by his father and brother when they established the business in 1977. The tenets, to which Scott attributes the company’s success in a down economy, include focus on what you know, appreciate the customer and support your community.
What You Know
Jacob Sunroom & Exteriors began as a one-truck seamless-gutter company but has grown into one of the largest exterior remodeling businesses in southwestern Illinois. The company currently has 35 full- and part-time employees who work in two divisions: Leisure Living Products and Exterior Remodeling Products.
Scott, who has worked in the family business since high school, says his career chose him: “As soon as I got home from school, I’d work on the truck. When our one retail salesman left, my dad said I was our new salesman. I did that for five or six years before I began managing the sales end of the company.”
Although his father passed away in 2000, he continues to influence Scott’s business decisions. Scott explains: “My father said, ‘Some of the best jobs you do are the ones you don’t do.’ It means you need to make a decision about what you’re going to do and then be good at it. Trying to be a total remodeling company wasn’t for us. We focus on the exterior of the home and that’s made us a better company.”
Appreciate the Customer
Scott says the company’s best business practice has been service after the sale. “Whatever the problem is, we’ll fix it because we want to make the customer happy,” he says. “If we did a job for a customer 30 years ago and they called me today and something is rattling or broken, we’ll fix it.”
Jacob Sunroom & Exteriors doesn’t charge the customer for these quick fixes. “Customers are our asset and we’re going to take care of them,” Scott says. “A lot of companies get hung up on nickel and diming folks for service calls.”
This principle leads to referrals, which account for around 45 percent of Jacob Sunroom & Exteriors’ business. “Without referrals, we’d have had a tough time making it through the recession. The big-ticket items, like sunrooms, fell off a bit but our referrals are a great resource for us.”
Support Your Community
Jacob Sunroom & Exteriors has been dedicated to its remodeler community and local community. The company’s involvement with the local Home Builders Association chapter (Scott is a past president) and NAHB Remodelers Council, for which Scott is a charter member and has served as chairperson, has led to some remarkable community projects, including the Illinois Center for Autism, Fairview Heights, which won the Illinois Governor’s Hometown Award.
“It’s always been important to us to give back,” Scott says. “When the local Remodelers Council was formed, the charter members agreed to do community projects. As a group, we can do bigger and better projects while being fiscally smart about it.”
Scott’s Secrets to Success
In the current economy, Scott A. Jacob credits five things with keeping his business in the black.
- Referrals: About 45 percent of the company’s leads come from referrals from satisfied customers.
- Selling partnership: The company sells products and services through St. Louis-area Sam’s Club stores.
- Canvassing: Company employees invite neighbors to visit projects in progress. They also pass out promotional fliers and ask neighbors to call if they are disturbed by the work.
- Direct mail: A database of about 40,000 customers during 30 years of business allows the company to send out promotions and sales alerts.
- Internet marketing: The company invests in search-engine optimization, pay-per-click ads, a user-friendly site (www.jacobsunroom.com) and capturing visitors’ information. Scott remarks: “I’ve been told 70 percent of people who are interested in doing home improvements start their research on the Internet. We haven’t mastered it but we’re getting more business from the Internet than ever before.”