The end of the project is the start of a whole new phase of the relationship between Fannin Remodeling (Big50 1990) and its clients. The company's one-year warranty program “lets them know that we're not going away,” says Chuck Fannin, of Toledo, Ohio. It also provides a steady source of repeat and referral business in an economy in which new clients can be difficult to find.

The warranty program actually begins during the sales process. In meetings with prospects, Fannin lays out the elements of a pledge to execute the job smoothly, to address their concerns, and to hustle back to fix any problems that might arise long after the punch list is completed. Those elements:

  • Weekly courtesy calls commence with the job kick-off. Sharon Young, Fannin's customer care associate, says that her regular calls form the basis of a relationship, “and other conversations develop. The customers feel secure that they are being taken care of.” All conversations are logged in a “warranty record” for each project.
  • The official one-year warranty period begins when the job is completed. Young calls to see how everything wrapped up, and mails the customers a one-year subscription to a home decor magazine.
  • Thirty days later, Young mails them a one-page survey that Fannin considers his company's “grade card.” Young gives customers a friendly nudge to complete the surveys, and about 95% do.
  • Six months after the job is completed, Young calls again. Clients appreciate this, she says, “and they do tell me if anything is wrong, even if it's something minor, like a door is sticking. And of course, we do send someone out to fix it!”
  • As the one-year warranty draws to a close, Young calls again to see if they need any adjustments. She also mails clients a thank-you card with a gift of two movie tickets.
  • The relationship continues after the warranty ends, with Fannin Remodeling staying in touch by way of newsletters and holiday cards with recipes in them. Overall, Fannin notes, “we've had a very good reaction.” He adds that each point of contact “is another chance to sell the company to them.”