Client relations spur success for Hobart Builders of Columbus, Ga., and it is Rob Barefield, CGR, general manager and vice president, who has helped in that achievement. Barefield understands that it’s no longer just about meeting customer expectations, but exceeding them, and that’s what makes him the October NAHB Remodeler of the Month.
Hobart Builders is a family-owned business that consists of Barefield’s in-laws, his wife and himself. When Barefield and his wife joined the business, they brought with them customer service experience that helped take the business to the next level.
“My father-in-law is a genius at carpentry and design, but one of the areas that he lacked was relating to the customer,” explains Barefield.
Barefield handles the sales and production side of the business. He feels the company has been successful because of its customer service. The team makes sure they are communicating with their clients on a daily basis, and they make sure everything is in writing rather than word-of-mouth.
“I came from a position in client relations where it was pounded in us that the client is always right,” says Barefield. “We all know that’s not always true, but I feel like we need to do whatever we have to do to satisfy the client to get issues resolved.
Client relations can be 100 different things, but keeping the clients up-to-date, spending time with them, relating with them, is what makes us successful. You can find anyone who can do framing, plumbing and tile work, but spending time with them is what sets you apart.”
Going beyond their clients’ expectations has really been the root of Hobart Builders’ success. Barefield has done this by setting an expectation level with clients each time they meet with them and then aiming beyond that with his team.
When Barefield isn’t busy running the business, he’s involved in local programs to promote the remodeling industry. When Barefield was chairperson of the local remodelers’ council, he began building a relationship with a local school and its construction program. Not only does he work on a steering committee for the program, but the company has hired some of the students on a temporary basis to give them real-world experience.
“I felt it was important for the workforce of the future that we as remodelers get involved with the program,” says Barefield.
Barefield continues his support of the industry by educating the company’s client base. Hobart Builders sends out a quarterly newsletter that includes information on the latest trends to stimulate clients to have work done. Because so many people are doing their research beforehand, Hobart Builders’ Web site has been a great tool for people in area. The company even includes information on the site on how to choose a proper remodeler.
“I tell clients that even if they don’t choose us to do the work, they should go to our site to make sure they make a good choice,” says Barefield. “We send them a copy of that in a follow-up package as well so they make a good decision and get someone who is qualified.”
Barefield receives great feedback from potential clients when they find out that Hobart Builders is a member of the NAHB, Better Business Bureau and the chamber of commerce because it gives the company a sense of clout. Being a member of the NAHB helps the company to know what’s going on in the rest of the nation and helps them to project where they should be looking.
“It says that we’re not just operating our business on our own,” adds Barefield. “It says we know what’s going on in our industry. Obviously different parts of the country have to deal with different things, but it helps us to understand where we are and where we need to be going.”
Fast Facts About Rob Barefield, CGR:
- Company name: Hobart Builders
- Location: Columbus, Ga.
- Year founded: 1983, Barefield has been with company for 12 years
- No. of employees: 5
- Industry involvement: Former chairperson of local Remodelers’ Council; member of educational advisory committee for local school’s construction program; actively seeks out new members for Remodelers’ Council