Beyond the Build

Management

It’s the Experience

In any kind of buy and sell, the customer experience is the differentiator. It’s where repeat business is earned or lost. This sounds simple, but we all know it’s hard to execute.

In four decades of construction, I’ve yet to see a project that was delivered without any problems. Some are small, some large, but they are inevitable. How one reacts in adversity is the differentiator. How is bad news delivered? Are there solutions? Situations like these can derail a relationship in a heartbeat.

Last Friday, I received a call from a director of construction with a longtime customer. I was told we were not delivering the right kind of leadership. In the call, I told him I trusted what he was saying, and it was my responsibility to solve. I have learned that when one takes the initial blame, it always diffuses the emotion of the moment. I did some digging, avoiding finger pointing, and I discovered the problem. There were conversations all the way around the circle of those involved to get the real problem(s). I shared this with our customer a few days later in a way that showed cooperation but didn’t layer on more blame than was due.

While relationships start with a handshake or an agreement, it’s walking through trials together that makes the bond. Earlier yesterday, I received a call back from the customer telling me it was nice hear that “cooperative decision-making” is taking place on the job. I even heard there were a few laughs in the project two week look ahead.

When projects end in calm water, all the boats stay together.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.