Sales Lessons From A Roofer

By August 10, 2010Differentiation

Every now and again I get blown away by a great demonstration of sales and customer service. Had to share this one.

In August, it’s hot in Georgia. The thermometer has topped 90 nearly every day for what seems like forever, and as I write this, it’s 94 degrees out there. The A/C in my house never seems to shut off. This morning, I decided to do something about it. (OK, it was actually my wife who decided I was going to do something about it.)

At 10:45 AM I called Krugman Roofing & Construction.  Chryse, the nice lady who answered the phone, listened to my request for information about attic fans, verified (not, asked for, verified) my address and phone number and told me someone would call back shortly.  Just before 11:00, as I was on another call, the message light on my phone blinked on. I finished that call – yes, I do talk a lot – at 11:40.  After listening to the message from Dave Krugman the owner, I called his cell phone and left a message for him.  I didn’t even have time to think about telephone tag.  Dave called back before I even put the darn thing down.

I’ll cut this part short for brevity’s sake.  Dave started by thanking me for my past business, and mentioning that he considered me among the KRC “friends & family.”  He then talked me out of the pair of attic fans I wanted to have installed, and suggested an insulation solution that was half the cost.  He used actual dollar figures, but I won’t share them here.  You’ll understand why shortly.  Suffice it to say, he led me through a discovery process that caused me to calculate a 4 to 6 month break even point for the investment.  He ended the conversation by saying he’d get back to me with a time someone could come by and take a first-hand look at the situation and again thanking me for being part of his “friends & family.”

Fifteen minutes later Dave calls back and asks if if would be OK for Wes to stop by in an hour.  I say, “OK,” and almost exactly 60 minutes later Wes arrives.  I hadn’t recognized the name, but I knew the face instantly.  Two years ago, Wes was the guy who dropped everything on a Saturday afternoon and fixed the broken water main in my front yard that was performing a fairly accurate impersonation of Old Faithful only non-stop.  Why a roofing guy to fix a water pipe?  Because the six (6!) plumbers I called all promised to be there first thing Monday morning.

Wes Brown

Some more detail is important.  The geyser incident was in September, 2008 on opening day for the University of Georgia football season.  If you’ve ever seen a rabid SEC football fan, you’ll understand what Wes was giving up and what that meant to him.  (He left his GA Bulldogs cap safely in the cab of his truck as he dug through the mudbath formerly known as “Todd’s front yard.”)

The year before that, Krugman replaced my entire roof after a really nasty hail storm beat the daylights out of the old one.  Oh, by way, they also helped with the inspections, certifications, paperwork and gazillion phone calls regarding my insurance coverage.  The year before that, when he was a brand new company, Dave himself patched a small section of my roof that was leaking.

Back to this afternoon…  When Wes hands me the bill, it’s for 20% less than the low end of Dave’s original estimate. My break even with this new (“Friends & Family Booster Club?) price is just over 3 months.  Meanwhile, Wes’ co-worker is cleaning up a few bits of insulation from my driveway and while he’s at it, the leaves and pine needles!

Needless to say, I’m an extremely happy camper.  And the sales lessons here?

  • Remember and thank your customers for their past business
  • Respond Really Rapidly
  • Clearly define the problem that needs solving, consider alternatives and recommend the best one for the customer regardless of your own revenue and profit
  • Under-promise and over-deliver
  • Do whatever it takes (Even if it means missing opening day)

All of us in sales can learn a few things from Dave Krugman.  Anybody in the north Atlanta suburbs in need of home repairs or additions needs to call Krugman Roofing & Construction at 770-917-9130.

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Todd Schnick says:

    I love stories like this.

    But isn’t it sad that we get so emotional about superior customer experiences like this?

    I mean, are they that rare?

  • I had a similar experience. 4 yrs ago, we needed a new roof. The first 3 guys I called came out, walked around the house, wrote up a form, and handed me an estimate – all within a hundred bucks of each other. The 4th company sent out an inspector who spent nearly two hours climbing on top of my roof, climbing into my attic, taking detailed notes and photos. At the end, he said they’d call us 3 days later to set up an appt to talk about the job. When the rep came out to present, they had a 20 page doc detailing the airflow issues that had caused our previous roof to fail prematurely, and a detailed workplan to fix everything. They were also 30% higher than the other guys. But we happily paid it, and watched the guys do a fantastic job in 3 days, including a cleanup that included a thorough raking AND a rollover of our yard with large magnets to catch any stray nails. What a difference among these companies! And what a lesson for sales & marketing people everywhere. Premium service during the sales process leads to expectations of premium quality work, and a willingness to pay a premium price.

    • Patrick,

      Thanks for sharing a great story. More proof that there are a million ways to create differentiation and high value.

      Just curious… Did their value proposition include any esitmates on heating, cooling or other savings?

      Todd

  • Jocelyn Ring says:

    I love stories like this. Sadly, more often than not, companies skip the vitally important step in business: customer service. It always amazes me how many organizations include variations on “delight our customers” in their mission statements, but just fail to deliver. I’ve found that bad customer service is the norm.

  • […] Do whatever it takes (Even if it means missing opening day) via ypsgroup.com […]

  • Dan says:

    Great post. I love to hear of trades companies getting it right! So many great sales lessons to be gleaned from this interaction.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • hookah says:

    I read your blog when I was in Quebec. I bookmarked your site and read your post again when I reached CA after I purchased my new ed online computer. The site is excellent and looks the best in new!

  • Stirring blog post you have here. I hadn’t pondered this.

Leave a Reply