By Joseph F. Schuler Jr.. Keating-Moore Construction (Big50 1995) has grown from a $1.8 million to a $15 million remodeling company/custom builder in less than 10 years. Average jobs for the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., company used to reach $150,000. Now jobs run $500,000 to $2 million. Larger jobs, and growing 10 times in volume, meant refining processes while remaining attentive to clients.
Security and maintenance are two services that sprung out of tracking the needs of clients, many of whom have vacation homes in North Palm Beach. The firm's HomeWatch and Maintenance program, which operates under the tag line, "Securing the Dream," offers a once-a-week home walk-through. The service costs $65 a month, and any additional work needed is billed at $38 an hour. Don Havner, a semi-retired handyman, heads the division. He also visits the homes and does any repairs that he can. If a subcontractor is needed, that work is billed at a 20% markup. Havner uses a checklist of about 20 items to inspect as he walks through the homes, checking refrigerators, flushing toilets, looking for obvious leaks, and seeing how the air conditioning and humidity feels. He also checks pools and irrigation systems.
He has started up garaged collectible or luxury cars to make sure they're running and has subcontracted their detailing. Havner has even put a gallon of milk in the refrigerator for one client, because the client's children and infant grandchildren were arriving from the airport late that night and the client wasn't home. He now has 30 homes on his list.
"It's all directly related to listening to what clients want and need," says Joe Keating. "Keeping your ears open to that and capitalizing on what they're saying."
Keating hasn't tracked what the service has meant in other business for Keating-Moore. "But I know how it goes at the cocktail parties," he says. "They rave about our service. It's establishing our brand in the market. It endears us into their hearts." Plus, he adds, "Your best client is the one you've always done work for."