Only within the past 25 or 30 years has remodeling grown into a distinct profession. Yet, to this day, many homeowners still seek out a “contractor” or a “builder” when they want to improve a bathroom, a kitchen or add on to their home.
But even as awareness of qualified and professional remodelers becomes mainstream, low barriers to entry work against the industry every day, leaving the door open for the unqualified and the poorly trained to sell jobs, disappoint customers, and quickly exit the business trailing messes that people never forget. Indeed, the remodeling industry — as a whole — suffers from a perception issue that is hard to shake.
Yet not all of the industry’s customer satisfaction issues are perception based. Customer satisfaction may be a discipline that is well-known among the executive ranks of the Fortune 500, but the ranks of the Qualified Remodeler Top 500 is a different story. Less than 15 percent reports internal programs to monitor customer satisfaction. Steadily, the word is getting out. In an industry where leads for new jobs can cost hundreds of dollars in marketing expense, the value of a customer for life who will, over a period of time, refer five to 10 new customers is manifold. Each satisfied customer not only becomes a base for new business but also becomes a steady stream of referrals.
It is for these reasons that Qualified Remodeler began establishing a benchmark for customer satisfaction in the remodeling industry four years ago with our very first survey of homeowners who had recently remodeled their homes. Conducted by RenovationExperts.com, the goal of our survey this year is the same as it was when we started: Assign a value to customer satisfaction across a widespread group of homeowners and through analysis begin to understand the areas of the remodeling process where the relationship between remodelers and their clients commonly goes off the rails. Conversely, the analysis has also helped uncover remodeling company behaviors or traits — often deceptively simple ones — that tend to leave customers happy with their remodeling experience.
The Top Line Results
Many industries — automotive, healthcare and production home building among them — have been forced to sit up and pay attention to customer satisfaction as independent, third-party companies began surveying their customers and asking them hard questions about their level of satisfaction. Later, when rankings of competitors appeared online and in the media, the winners took the opportunity to leverage their victories through advertising.
The transformative power of satisfaction ranking is dramatic. In 2000, when J.D. Power & Associates began ranking home builders in six metro areas, the impact was felt immediately. The big builders immediately polished up their systems and processes with the goal of ensuring that home buyers felt good about their “experience” buying a home.
Will J.D. Power & Associates and other companies enter the remodeling fray at the local level? And, if so, will remodeling companies begin to track their customer experiences on a wider scale? In the long run, the answer is surely, yes. And the remodelers who’ve taken proper steps to improve their customer experience, to track their level of satisfaction, will be in the best position to post wins.
This year, 982 consumers who’d recently remodeled their homes were asked 25 questions. Primarily, they were asked to rank their remodeler’s performance (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best) in five key categories: overall satisfaction, professionalism, timeliness, price and workmanship.
On an aggregated basis, the numbers track very closely to those we’ve published in the past. Our panel of consumers gave their remodelers a combined grade of 6.29 for overall satisfaction. Professionalism scored 6.43. Timeliness dipped to 5.91. Price held steady at 6.67. And workmanship hit 6.32.