How often does someone ask, “Didn’t you get my e-mail?” Sometimes the answer really is “No,” and that’s a problem for a company owner. In fact, according to a report by Return Path, a company that studies e-mail use, “Twenty percent of e-mail in the United States and Canada is still not making it to the inbox while 3% of e-mail goes to the ‘junk’ or ‘bulk’ folder and another 16% goes missing.”

Give it Up

While some remodeling company owners might find a different electronic method to use, Brian Puglisi, owner of NY Design Build, in Scottsdale, Ariz., decided nearly two years ago to give up e-mail altogether — with his four employees as well as with his customers. Not only are e-mail messages not 100% reliable, but “they miss the emotional attachment,” Puglisi says. “And we’re dealing with emotional customers in this business.”

Chris Gash

He feels that because inflection and nuance are stripped from e-mail correspondence that type of interaction is confusing. “People don’t proof [e-mails] before they hit ‘send,’ Puglisi says. “[Information is] taken out of context or taken the wrong way.”

Puglisi, whose five-year-old company did about $1.5 million in volume last year, prefers phone conversations or face-to-face interactions. As for documentation, he says, “That’s why we have change orders and contracts.”

But that doesn’t mean that Puglisi doesn’t have a website or otherwise avoids computer tools in his business. He will, for expediency, send a PDF of a floor plan, for example, to a vendor but never anything to a client.

Customer Satisfaction

Puglisi’s customers appreciate the personal attention and have no issue with his choice. “I’m out with my customers just about every day, and this just works better for me,” he says. Employees can use e-mail amongst themselves but not with clients (or with Puglisi). “Everyone has to have a personal contact with every client.”

To make this work, Puglisi acknowledges that job scopes must be detailed and accurate. He also has an employee take customers selections shopping. Everything is written down. “That [kind of] customer service eliminates communication problems altogether.”

—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.