Despite the name, Chesterfield Fence and Deck also does windows, sunrooms, and decorative concrete. No matter the job, the company buys direct from manufacturers and gets exclusive product lines, which allows it to control supply chains, says Tom Thiel, Chesterfield’s president.
But what this fast-growing company (its revenues have risen 26% in just two years) seems to do best is customer service. “A customer should always know what’s going on with their project,” Thiel says. “If we do what we should do, they come back to the tune of a 30% return rate. It’s astounding.”
To keep those customers coming back, Thiel relies on intensive employee training that’s aimed at communicating better with clients—and keeping them for life. “It’s hard enough to create that relationship,” he says. “But keeping it is another thing.”
After initial training, Thiel brings in manufacturers for ongoing regular training and holds weekly and biweekly staff meetings to continue driving home the customer service mantra.
To Thiel, the recipe is simple: Sell someone a product, then stand behind it with service. “When someone calls, I could point to the terms of service in the contract, but if they get off that phone and they’re not feeling warm and fuzzy, it was all a waste of time,” he says. “Don’t give excuses, just go fix it.”
Post-recession, Thiel is adding a new mantra to his service training: Make customers feel important. He says that will continue to differentiate Chesterfield and ensure future growth. “Once we get it viral and people come to expect it, it’ll be game changing,” he says.