Dilsha and John Happel attribute their survival during the downturn to being good squirrels: They managed their money and now have secured a niche doing structural remodeling, a choice that stems from John’s master’s degree in structural engineering.
Due to the type of projects H&H takes on, they only do around 5-10 projects a year. To make sure that they’re all successes, Dilsha acts as the gatekeeper and speaks to every potential client on the phone. “We screen all of our leads, 500 a year give or take,” she says. “I spend a lot of time on the phone with them. I’ll suggest solutions even if they aren’t customers.”
Making sure that only the best fitting leads go beyond the phone call stage to meet with John is one of the systems that’s helped H&H thrive. “We’re really big on systems,” Dilsha says. “We have systems for everything. They can be tough to develop, but systems make life better.”
One system that’s helped H&H retain its employees is a longevity bonus. After completing a full year of employment, an employee receives a slight raise, regardless of whether or not performance was at its peak. “It’s a little incentive. We like you, you like us. It’s also because we keep the knowledge and experience with the company.”
- Making suggestions to each lead doesn’t always mean pointing them in the direction of a competitor. “The cheapest solution is a can of paint,” Dilsha says. “I’ll suggest moving as a solution. Sometimes there’s something in between.”
- Since both owners are now in their 60s, succession is an important topic of discussion around the office. After watching other businesses struggle with that question, they’ve decided there are only three options: close the doors, sell the business, or give the business to someone.
- H&H tracks all of its leads, and in 2015 almost two-thirds came from clients visiting the website. The other third came from remodeling shows.