Sterling’s Customer Involvement
By Dan Cardenas
A Doggie Elevator On The Pre-Drywall Orientation
Taking the time to meet with clients at the build site is one of the ways Sterling Homes ensures customer satisfaction. On one late February afternoon, Collin and his intern Dan drove over to one of his South Village lots that was still under construction, to meet a client for a pre-sheetrock orientation of the house. The homeowner pulled up to the house, shortly after our arrival, and exited her car carrying a small white dog named Precious, who was dressed in a small winter jacket with ribbons tied into its hair. The customer had previously mentioned her dog in past meetings and wanted to introduce it to Collin and Erica. After the introduction, the pooch was put back in the car and everyone gathered outside and exchanged greetings, ready to begin the scheduled tour.
However, before going in to see the first floor, the customer asked Collin if he had been able to review the changes that she had made with Erica. He calmly replied that he had, in fact, not heard about any changes to the home, but was more than willing to hear what she had in mind. The customer then started pitching an idea that she had seen on The Animal Plant TV station a few days before—she wanted to install a dog elevator next to the kitchen so that their dog would have access to going outside, without the added danger of having to climb up and down stairs. Collin looked a little surprised, but you could tell by the way he handled the situation that this slightly odd request paled in comparison to those of past clients.
The customer continued to explain the elevator apparatus that she wanted installed, insisting that Collin make room for the elevator in the design. During a pause in her description, Collin asked if she happened to have a picture to help him visualize exactly what it was she wanted. She told him that she had come prepared and then proceeded to whip out a white folder from the bag she was carrying and handed it to him. He pulled out the folded piece of paper inside the folder and held it up for everyone to see. It read “Gotcha!” in bold permanent marker. Collin’s face instantly produced a big grin and everyone in tour bursted out laughing at the prank that had just been very well played. The builders narrowly avoided having to take one step backward and install a new feature into a home that was just about ready for sheetrock.
Sterling’s Customer Involvement
Building a new home is one of the biggest investments people make in their lifetimes; wouldn’t you like to know that you are getting what you paid for?
One of the major ways Sterling Homes ensures the happiness of its customers is by including them throughout the home building process:
Firstly, Clients meet with Sterling Homes professionals to go through what is called “options and selections”. This is when clients pick and choose how they want their house to look and create a plan that includes all the agreed-upon features on the home.
Secondly, Pictures are taken on site at every stage of the build. These photos are consistently uploaded to an online client portal where the homeowner can check on the physical progress of the building, can confirm that we are on schedule, but most importantly, the access to pictures gives the customer a personal connection to their future home and allows them to get to know every inch of what they are buying. Some builders take shortcuts or use cheaper materials without the knowledge of the homeowner. That is why documenting the entire building process keeps us accountable, while at the same time, keeping our customers in the loop.
Thirdly, Sterling Homes schedules multiple on-site meetings with clients which show them the progression of their home’s construction right in front of their own two eyes. The pre-drywall orientation that is given to customers is an important step in the building’s completion because it finalizes the layout of the building. During this orientation, customers are brought through the unfinished house to show them the features that will be later covered up when drywall is hung. Builders also use the pre-sheetrock orientation to confirm all of the options and selections that were made by the homeowner during the planning process. If the homeowner wants to make any changes, it is much easier and less expensive to change them before drywall is hung because it is more difficult to install options inside a wall cavity when it is covered in sheetrock. Collin’s customer in the story knew that proposing a doggie elevator late into the build would be extremely difficult which is why she planned this prank to get a reaction out of Collin (which she definitely did!).