A bit over a month has passed since our home remodel, and I can finally talk about the experience with some perspective. Doing stuff to your house is expensive, stressful, and time-consuming. I knew that going into the process, but it was still painful.
I feel like I didn’t sleep for a few months, my wife and I had the worst fights we’d had in years, and my work and relationship with family in general was suffering.
First, let me put it out there: The best part of the experience was getting our countertops.
Am I your target customer?
I’ve been trying to think about why that was the case, for me. I’m not sure if I’m the typical countertop buyer, but I’m positive I represent an important demographic: family with 2 kids, just bought a house… and all of us have lots of commitments with work, kid activities,and family.
I assume that other folks in our situation, who’ve bought a house from 1998, would also remodel at least some part of the kitchen and baths. And, because we intend to live here for a long time, getting the right thing was much more important than getting the cheap thing.
We did a bunch to our house – in addition to the counters, we got new floors, paint, tile, fireplaces, doors, some appliance, and lighting. Most of that was really stressful. So why was the countertop process so great?
How I chose a countertop fabricator
I’ve been living in Oregon since the time we started Moraware in 2003, and I’ve got deep personal relationships with many of the local fabricators.
I ended up choosing Precision Countertops, partly because of my personal connection to folks who work there… but even more-so because I place huge value on communication and consistency. I figured that they wouldn’t be able to grow to be one of the biggest fabricators in the region (or now, in the United States) without having a similar set of values.
What was their secret? Say what you’re going to do, then do it.
For many of the other trades that were part of my remodel, there’d be unexpected delays, miscommunication, and poor documentation. Once we chose the color of the countertop we wanted, the rest was like clockwork. After we gave our deposit, here’s a snippet from the email we got shortly after:
Thank you for your purchase. I am your project coordinator and will be taking care of you throughout the rest of this project. Please see your scheduled dates and times below. If you need to make any changes please let me know
Template: Thursday, February 12th
With an arrival window between: 11:00 – 2:00 PM
Please have faucet and stove on site.
Please have backsplash removed.
Please have your countertops cleared off.
*Please note we cannot make any changes after the template appointment.
Install: Wednesday, March 4th
With an arrival window between: 8:00 – 10:00 AM
Please have existing countertops removed and cabinets leveled within 1/8” when measured across a distance of 6’.
Please have additional supports installed, if applicable.
Please have the area under your sink cleared out.
That simple email told me everything I need to know. And, it put me at ease. In addition to the email, I got a phone call with confirmation too. Since I personally prefer email, that ended up being how Precision informed me about the rest of the process… which was just reminders once the dates got closer.
Communication is the key
So, after being in this industry for over a decade, I’ve been accustomed to thinking about Template, Fabrication, and Install as the important parts of the countertop buying experience. As a homeowner, nothing could be further from the truth. What happened next was all about communication.
On February 9th, I got an email confirmation of my appointment. Then on February 12th, at around 10:40am, I got a call saying the template team was almost at my new house. A few minutes later, Micah and Zack showed up at my house to do the templating.
Since my kitchen has lots of funky angles, and they were using old-school template technology, it took time for them to template everything. But you know what? That didn’t matter to me as the homeowner. (I’m also guessing that they’ve looked at their overall production process and templating isn’t the bottleneck, for Precision)
The templaters re-iterated that the material we were choosing (Dekton in their Danae color) would have visible seams. They explained where the seams would be, and told us about how the installation would go.
Confirm, re-confirm, and re-re-confirm
Most importantly, the templaters just gave me more confidence. That confidence started from that initial visit to the shop, and the email explaining the process. I had no doubt that they’d build the countertop I wanted and have it installed when they said they were going to.
A few days after the template was done, I got another email that showed my layout, asked for my confirmation, and also re-confirmed the installation date and time.
The installation was just as smooth. Same email reminder from the office, same call telling me they were on their way, and same respect for my time. The same guys showed up with my finished counters… and about 5-ish hours later, everything looked great.
And, by great I mean that the finished countertop matched our expectation.
Then, a few days after the installation was complete I got a survey asking for my feedback about the overall process. And, I as their customer, I really believe that they cared.
What would I have done differently?
With the countertops, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve got some ideas of how we can make our software even more useful in that communication with the homeowner… since I strongly believe that is the most important part.
So, the question is… once the pain of this remodel wears off, how do I find other construction subcontractors like that for future projects?
And, to turn it around: In all of your marketing materials, are you identifying your best customers? Despite hearing complaints from lots of countertop fabricators about tire-kickers and customers willing to use a competitor for quote that’s $100 less, I don’t believe that you need to compete on price.
For us, price was never the issue – this is an infrequent, luxury purchase.
In comparing the countertops with all of the other folks who remodeled… what I really want is to find the companies in the other trades who share my values:
- My time is worth more than my money
- Communication is incredibly important
- Setting and meeting expectations is exceptional
Are you unique in your values? Is there exceptional value of some kind that you deliver to customers? Let me know if you’ve got a great example of a website that explains how you’re different from the guy down the street.