When a job is finished, everyone is ready to move on. That's why it's so hard to field service calls. But, says Craig Weber, “if you deal with 10 headaches right away, it becomes a routine process.”

The owner of general contracting firm Weber Construction in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., Weber has developed a system to manage service calls. “A lot of contractors will say, ‘We'll get to it when we get to it,'” Weber says. But he's taken the high road and made these jobs a top priority.

Let's say a week (though Weber allows up to a year) after a job is done, the client calls because a shingle has come up a bit or a window is loose. The person answering the phone fills out a service call sheet with the date, time of call, customer information, nature of the problem, and name of the person who will handle the complaint. This gets faxed to the person who worked on the job.

Within 48 hours of that call, an employee must contact the customer to arrange a meeting. After those two days are up, one of the office personnel calls to check that the customer's been called.

The complaint must be taken care of within five to seven business days, unless it's an emergency, which is seen to within 24 hours of the initial call.

“We take the approach that it's not a new job,” says Weber, who reports that the “protocol” has landed him a lot of referrals.