Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Finding a 2-Way Fit


Tongue and GrooveA few months ago, I was at a lunch with a prospective customer, discussing a new project. Partway through our meal, I said, “Jim, you know if this is going to be a well-built project, we need to be a fit for you, and you for us.” To say he was taken aback is an understatement. I could see his expression change as he processed what was just said. He turned to his associate, saying he’d never been approached like that before.

I truly meant what I said. As contractors, or any kind of service providers really, there are two things that differentiate us from the pack. Price is the obvious one, but quality of service is equally important.

In order to achieve high quality service, the relationship needs to be right. That’s why, in my efforts at the company, I try to build relationships first, sizing up the opportunity, then making sure it’s a fit both ways. This means that you might turn down business sometimes. It also means you produce higher quality work, and enjoy more repeat business with your customers.

Back to my friend and our lunch. Because of that sentence and our approach, he felt comfortable with me and the company. We came in with a competitive bid. All other things were equal, and we start the job next week.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.