Jim Klappa
JDJ Builders, Greenfield, Wis.
Big50 1999

We do not seem to have a single item that stands out as the number one complaint. And none seem to reoccur from year to year. Some examples, though, would be the project took longer than the homeowner anticipated; the homeowner is intimidated by what they view as a one-sided contract; the homeowner thinks someone will be working on their project every day; the homeowner feels there could be better communication during the project.

To address the last item, we now have an in-house expediter who works as a liaison between the field crew and the homeowner. This provides for better communication.

Ronald G. Iossi
United Services by R.G. Iossi,
Davenport, Iowa
Big50 1991

We receive very few complaints. Hopefully that's because we have fine-tuned our insurance restoration operation during our 20 years in business.

When we do receive a complaint, it usually has to do with communication. We deal with this first by attempting to discover what our clients' priorities are for our performance. We inform them of what we can do to meet or exceed their expectations, and in some cases, we have to tell them up front that we can't.

Once we all agree on expectations, the project goes well, as long as we continue to communicate.

We provide a schedule of completion, an allowance list, and the deadlines to choose items to stay on schedule. We keep lines of communication open with the insurance adjuster and the mortgage company, too.

Christopher Repp
Repp Construction, Orchard Park, N.Y.
Big50 1996

We do a follow-up questionnaire with 15 to 20 questions. We often get so-so marks for our subcontractors.

We have found that when a homeowner asks a subcontractor a question as they walk in the door, the sub may not answer correctly, because he is not up to speed on the project. But the homeowner misinterprets this: They think the subs don't know what they're doing.

To handle this, we make sure the lead carpenter greets the subs and introduces them to the client -- which puts us in charge again. This change shot our ratings back up again. Our response to a perceived negative turned out to be positive.

Bill Carter
William Carter Company,
Sacramento, Calif.
Big50 2001

My high-end clientele is very candid. I encourage open communication continuously through the project. I have an outgoing interview. One of the biggest things I hear is the need for dust control and surface protection. Now, as a policy, we curtain off everything we can, and we use fiberboard, dropcloths, and plastic to keep dust and damage to a minimum. We use scaffolding rather than ladders. It's safer for workers and does not compromise the surfaces ladders are leaning against.

If we incur the same problem time after time, the solution to it becomes policy.

Michael High
Casa Linda Remodeling,
San Antonio, Texas
Big50 1995

The most consistent complaint is the length of time it takes to complete a project. We overcome this by providing the homeowner with a written schedule before the job begins and then giving the client weekly updates. We use Microsoft Project to schedule jobs and to keep track of lost days, so we can show the client why days were lost.

We have found that if we communicate with our clients almost daily, then the delays are not as big an issue with them.

Myron "Butch" Ledworowski
Li'l America Builders, Middleton, Wis.
Big50 1994

The complaint that we occasionally get is dissatisfaction with subcontractors. Either the sub's personality ruffles feathers or they are not as accommodating as our crew is. We handle problems on a case-by-case basis.

I have a lot of face time with clients before the job begins. I try to match personalities of clients to the lead carpenters and the subs I assign to the job.

I also try to explain to subs and employees the "flavor" of the job. That includes things that are not covered in the proposal or specifications -- things like the clients' personalities and the names of pets.