When honesty doesn’t work , it can be very disheartening. Even worse, it can mean a loss of business.
As a builder, potential clients sometimes treat us as though we are trying to sell them snake oil. Of course, there may be some validity to their perceptions. We have all heard stories about builders and re-modelers, which were real nightmares. There’s the home that took a year and a half to build, when it was supposed to take six months. There are many stories of building costs going well over budget, some increases not even known until closing. Inferior materials and workmanship account for a large number of homeowner complaints. Finally, there are many stories of customers unable to reach their contractor/builder. It’s not unheard of for no replies for weeks at a time.
We at Piedmont Personal Builders pride ourselves on our honesty, integrity, and genuine concern for our clients. Our level of customer service is unparalleled in the area. We have been building “on your lot” custom homes for nine years. Word of mouth has been our best marketing tool. We give a list of everyone we have built a home for to every potential client. We are so confident in what our customers will say about us.
So, what do we do when honesty doesn’t work? We have lost several sales over the last couple of years because we were honest and had the client’s best interest in mind. Many potential clients already own land and some are considering purchasing a piece of land. We offer all potential clients a no cost, no obligation lot evaluation, which gives them a builder’s perspective on any issues, negative or positive, affecting the building plans. On a number of occasions, the home buyer wanted a walk out basement. On each of these lot inspections, we determined the land did not have enough fall off and was not at all suited to a basement. Here in North Carolina, basements are not very common as they are in many other parts of the country. Our red clay soil is not conducive to a dug out basement. Most basements are “walk out” and built on a lot with a suitable slope. On each of these occasion’s, we suggested the cost would be very high for the basement and tried to show alternatives in the home plan, or even the lot itself. Well, we lost all of those potential sales. All of those folks built their homes with basements and all at a very high cost. We never said we would not build their basements, but suggested alternatives which would benefit them. apparently, our honesty offended them.
So, is the customer always right. Should we keep our opinions to ourselves and always give them what they want, no matter the cost or outcome? It’s a tough call, especially in these difficult financial times for any builder.