Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Navigating the Exit Lane

I’ve been in the middle of estate planning the last year or so, and in the summer 2015, purchased some substantial life insurance. It was a hefty premium indeed. The agent bugged me for months, repeatedly showing up at the office unannounced to ask for the order. I finally signed the papers, and can you believe that was the last time I have heard from him? There was no note, no phone call, no email. Nothing. When friends come to me asking about estate planning, I could’ve been his best salesman, but now I’m tempted to share this story to the contrary.

This week, I was traveling with a seasoned architect friend, and he related a story about a fine building contractor, who does great work. They are always efficient, pressing to close the job out quickly and get the craftsmen and subcontractors off the site. The weeks immediately following are a different story. For customers, move-in time is often filled with minor callbacks, adjustments and requests for assistance. He related that while the customer is pleased with the new building, they are often disappointed in the closeout and lack of attention. It would be pretty simple to leave a carpenter on the job. The icing on the cake would be having the project executive call the customer a time or two during this period maybe even dropping by for a visit.

How many service providers spend, who-knows-how much-money in the pursuit of the sale, and then waste the opportunity to finish strong? After all, others can tell prospects how great you are much better than you can. Tooting your own horn just doesn’t have the same ring.

The key is to strike a balance for good cost management in the beginning and in the exit lane. To me, the exit lane may be even more important, as we always remember the end, and rarely the beginning.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

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