Monday, September 14, 2020

14 Ways a Home Builder Can Make Their Customer Angry

How many times during the day does something happen that makes you angry or impatient?

How about the guy in front of you taking more than two seconds to move after the light changes or the old guy driving 50 MPH on the Interstate? What about watching your food get cold at the service window while your waitress/waiter texts on their iPhone?

Fess up, this happens every day to all of us. So what happens when your new home buyer has a similar experience while you're building their new home?

Here are 14 things that are sure to piss off even the nicest customer:

1.  Take more than two hours to call back or 12 hours to answer an email. 

We live in an age of instant messaging, texting, fast food, and 15 minute oil changes, yet you’re going to wait 24 hours to return a phone call?  What are you, nuts?  People want answers NOW, and the longer you wait the better the chance they’ll move on to your competitor.

2.  Show up late with no call.  

Nothing enrages people more than disrespecting their time, so if you’re going be late (which is bad enough), at least give someone the courtesy of calling them to let them know.  Most people will forgive your tardiness if you make an attempt to let them know.  Anything more than 10 minutes past an agreed upon time probably merits a call.

3.  Don’t clean up.  

This is something that bugs most new home buyers. They want their new home treated with respect even during the construction process. Some people will absolutely lose their mind if your subscontractors leave pizza boxes and scrap materials after the end of each work day.  I recommend taking every precaution possible to minimize trash and to clean up every day until the work area darn near sparkles.  Ignore this one at your own risk. You don’t want to get the reputation of being a ‘dirty’ new home builder.

4.  Blindside the homeowner with surprise costs.  

There’s no quicker way to spoil an otherwise good relationship with a customer than to nail them with a $200 surcharge near the end of a $400,000 job.  This is particularly irritating to people when it involves something that you should have anticipated from the beginning. Suck it up and eat this cost.

5.  Take forever to complete a job.  

There are several major reasons that building a modular home is better than a site built house but the one that is most important to your buyer is getting into their new faster than having one stick built. Better to finish early than late. 

6.  Do crappy work.  

If you’re a glutton for punishment and really enjoy getting nightly phone calls from infuriated customers, then go ahead and speed through your jobs with no regard for quality.  If not, then take those extra few minutes or hours to make sure your work is outstanding and you’ll avoid untold numbers of massive headaches. I had a customer come to my house at 10:00 PM to complain about finding a can of paint spilled on the underlay. Even though it was done by my painting contractor, guess who caught it?

9.  Come to the job unprepared. 

Nothing says competence like showing up without the right tools or materials. These are dumb mistakes that piss off customers and they cost you valuable hours during the day.  Result: the customer gives you a negative review on Angie’s List

10.  Don’t listen.  

It’s a common human characteristic that we want our concerns to be heard, and we don’t want to have to repeat them.  So your job as a new home builder, particularly during the first meeting is to listen as much as it is to sell.  Don’t just bull-rush them with a boilerplate sales pitch; be receptive to their unique questions, fears, and expectations and then provide clear, specific answers. 

People will appreciate your willingness to honestly and thoroughly address their particular situation, and the ultimate result will be a higher closing ratio for your business.  If you insist on talking over them or if they have to ask you the same question two or three times before getting an answer you are on the fast-track to a failing business.

11.  Be rude or dismissive.  

This is a no-brainer but I’m always amazed by how many builders I come across that treat their customers like chumps.  Whether it’s rooted in a lack of basic manners or just a hatred of humanity in general I can never tell, but I can tell you that eventually these people will be out of business. Word of rotten customer service spreads faster than wildfire.

12.  Letting your emotions rule the day.  

Sometimes customers are jerks, but if you’re smart you’ll keep your cool as much as possible.  This is one of those professions where you’ll need to develop a thick skin and lots of patience.  People will tick you off, they will disrespect you, they will ask millions of stupid questions, but you need to understand that by rolling your eyes or showing your irritation you’ll be magnifying the situation by a factor of ten.  Act perturbed by a homeowner’s concerns and there’s a good chance that they’ll go from being slightly distressed to being The Hulk.  The more you can tolerate crazy customers the better off your business will be in the long run.  Bite your lip, swallow your pride, and watch your wallet get fat.

13.  Be condescending.  

If you have a habit of boosting your self-esteem by trying to make others feel stupid then prepare for the wrath of the normally calm soccer mom.  She may not know as much about ceramic tile as you do, but give her the impression that you think she’s dense and she’ll make your life a living hell until job completion.

14.  Forget to send a thank you letter to your home buyers

How would you feel if you spent $400,000 on a new modular home and never received a thank you in the mail? The best way to thank them for allowing you to build their new home is never by email. 

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of the, blogs and the ‘coming soon’, Construction Consultant’s Directory. 


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