With construction complaints usually ranking in the top three grievances at the Better Business Bureau each year, it's nice to hold a BBB award that says your company's tops in customer service.

Joy and Kirk Morris of Morris Builders, with their Better Business Bureau Best in Customer Service award.
Photo: Ron VanderKolk Joy and Kirk Morris of Morris Builders, with their Better Business Bureau Best in Customer Service award.

Kirk and Joy Morris of Morris Builders in Rockford, Mich., hold such an award. It's one of the Better Business honors bestowed annually in about half of the 128 bureaus nationwide, says Ken Vander Meeden, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan.

"Too often matters concerning the Better Business Bureau are negative," he says. "This recognizes companies in a positive fashion."

The Bureau's Web site logs 100,000 hits on construction alone each year -- homeowners checking company reliability reports, which most bureaus offer for free.

Five board members selected Morris Builders, an $886,000-a-year, full-service remodeling business, out of 47 companies nominated.

Joy Morris says after the BBB told her the company was nominated, the Bureau asked her to complete a seven-point questionnaire, asking why she thought they were nominated. Morris credited her record of zero BBB complaints. She noted best practices, too, such as post-job surveys rating satisfaction, regular hours of 6:30 to 5 each day, weekly client meetings during construction, constant updates on subcontractor site visits, and prompt change orders. Several post-job practices also merited mention, among them an album of pictures taken throughout the project, a list of products, serial numbers, colors, and model numbers of items used in the remodel, and a letter alerting the homeowners that their year-long warranty is about to expire, in case something needs attention.

Morris says the newspaper and television publicity was far-reaching. "It turned us into celebrities," she says. "Everywhere you'd go, everybody had seen it." By BBB rules, the Morrises are allowed to tout the award for a year. All correspondence now goes out with a "Best in Customer Service" label. Winning qualified the company for a national BBB award. Most important, Morris attributes seven leads to the award, plus an $80,000 job from a past customer.