A Strong Sub-structure

Good business is built on good relationships, and no one understands this more than Ronald Klopfenstein, president, C.G. Klopfenstein Builders in Leo, Ind. In a time when every trade is struggling to replace the large numbers of retiring workers with younger, skilled versions, Klopfenstein is moving forward without many problems.

Some of the subcontractors that work for Klopfenstein have been doing so for almost 40 years, some with a second generation of ownership. Subs don’t stick with a builder that long unless they are being treated well, which means paying them on time and having work sites prepped and ready to go, when promised.

“Obviously paying them on time or even early goes a long way. I never understood why a builder would not pay subs on time,” Klopfenstein says. “Over the years we have chosen subs that have a philosophy that lines up with ours of placing value on quality and not being the least expensive, but in the long run being the best value.”

Communication also plays a critical role in good relationships with subs, he emphasizes. “If we make a mistake, we own up to it and don’t blame the subs. We maintain straightforward communication with them, and they do the same with us. Another powerful tool is to call your subs just to say they did a good job. Too many times they only hear the bad stuff. I make a regular point to do this. I enjoy doing it and they enjoy hearing it.”

Klopfenstein’s relationships with its homeowners are healthy, too. The builder has formed an advisory board consisting of clients who have recently moved into their homes. The advisory board provides direct feedback on product and processes from people who have been through the Klopfenstein experience. It also allows the builder to stay in front of its best clients, and to increase possible referrals.

“We ask them what they liked about working with us, and what we could have done better. We do this to help us improve. It’s the experience of working with us that we’re trying to improve. The more questions you can eliminate or answer before turning over dirt, the better experience a customer will have,” he says.

The advisory board has reaffirmed to the Klopfenstein team to stay the course. “There are so many builders in our area, it’s easy to be tempted to throw in the towel as to how you’re doing your job, But this process provides us with affirmation not to change.”