Bill Moyer

To ensure happy customers and more referrals, Steven Feigeles and W. Scott Cooper, owners of Premier Builders & Remodeling ( Big50 2005), in Williamstown, N.J., emphasize quality and communication at every stage of a project. “A typical construction contract includes the start and finish date. Our contracts are defined by stages or milestones, and the payment schedule is tied to those milestones,” Feigeles says.

The contract is part of a 25-page book he presents to clients, which includes company policies, the schedule, a description of the project, and job descriptions of the field crew.

Providing information to the client helps ease their stress. “We’ll never be able to make a project completely stress-free,” Feigeles says, “but we aim to reduce or remove some of the pressure.”

No matter how good his crews are, Feigeles says that when a customer comes home to a house without a roof, the “fear factor” kicks in. “They can then check the book and see, OK, this is only for one or two days,” he says.

Also, the company’s three lead carpenters are each in charge of client communication on their projects. Feigeles and Cooper set up this leadership role by having leads run pre-construction meetings, and clients are instructed to use the lead as their first point of contact.

Feigeles says he had to replace one lead because he wasn’t communicating effectively with clients; he was answering their questions but wasn’t following through on problems.

By the time a call comes to the office, Feigeles points out, the customer is upset. A lead with strong communication skills can prevent the situation from reaching this stage.

Feigeles and Cooper are also doing more on-site inspections to make sure that jobs run smoothly. “The customer is happy to know that we are still involved,” he says.

Service that helps differentiate the company is even more important in today’s market, Feigeles says, where former new-construction employees are turning to remodeling work. These contractors are not prepared or professional, but homeowners need to be educated about the difference.