Knowing when to turn away jobs is a skill that serves Franklin & Associates well. The Akron, Ohio, home builder began as many have, taking jobs it shouldn’t, just to survive.
As business grew, the firm established a good reputation, won awards, became known in the community, and jobs began coming to its door. After a few years of defining its niche in the custom home market, business began to be too much to handle effectively, says Tim Franklin, president. “We were all too stressed, too thin-staffed and it was tough to keep clients happy. Details started falling through the cracks, so we had to put on the brakes. We didn’t want to ruin our good reputation.”
When someone delivers a lead on a multimillion dollar home the first urge is to take the job, he says. “Rule No. 1 is not to overextend yourself. You’ll make a better product as a result, which improves the referral rate. Because if clients aren’t happy, they won’t refer others to you.”
Franklin has had a few clients approach him with jobs, which had to be postponed for a month or two to accommodate the needs of current clients. New clients are told the company will focus on finishing the jobs of current clients before full attention is given to new clients. “We didn’t lose any jobs because of this. People understand we can’t let current clients down. Plus, new clients know they’ll get the same treatment some day.”
This culture of controlled growth creates happy customers who come back for post-sale work. For example, clients call Franklin to ask what they can do about a leaking roof. Franklin comes up with a quote and gets the work. “They come to us with something they haven’t taken care of in six years, and we get it done in three days. We get the work, and a good relationship. We service anything our clients want but refer them if we can’t do it,” Franklin says.
Franklin is happy as a design/builder. “Design/build evolved even before it was called design/build. In the beginning a lot of firms called themselves design/build, but they couldn’t design. Others couldn’t build. Now I really think it’s the future of residential construction.
“The process gets rid of miscommunication, but you’ve got to do it right, and if you can do it right, it’s the only way to go,” he says. “Design/build will be so ingrained in consumers’ minds in five years, people won’t accept anything less.”