In 2010, Pat Readyhough merged his company with Pond Roofing in a decidedly old-fashioned way. He met the company’s longtime family owner, agreed they had a lot in common, and sealed the deal with a handshake.“It’s like I bought this company from my aunt,” says Readyhough, president of Pond Roofing.

Readyhough says he takes pride in continuing the Ponds’ approach to customer service: solving problems rather than selling products. “Customers talk about it when we’re doing our follow-up and inspection,” he says. “They say: ‘You know what I really appreciate is that you didn’t come in here trying to sell me something. You just tried to help me.’ It follows through everything we do.”

It also works remarkably well. Readyhough says 60% of the company’s business is referrals and repeats, so he doesn’t need to spend much on lead generation. “Over the years, we’ve tried just about every new thing that comes along,” he says. “But what I’ve found is that taking the very best care of the customers we have is going to generate more leads than anything I could possibly ever do.”

That old-fashioned customer care attitude is backed up with some new technology. All estimators have wireless hotspots to connect phones and laptops for a truly mobile office. The company is getting ready to implement a camera technology that allows installers to share GPS- and customer-tagged photos and edit them on the fly, with fingers or styluses, to show an issue to supervisors and keep an ongoing record.

Before anyone shows up onsite, the company’s customer relationship management system sends customers an automatic email reminding them of their appointment, complete with a photo of the person coming to their home. “We set expectations upfront, explain the process and follow the process, and communicate all the promise points,” Readyhough says. “It kind of takes all the stress out of that whole experience.”