Thelen Total Construction home nearing completion

Thelen Total Construction home nearing completion

The 2011 Gallup Poll of Honesty and Ethics in Professions asked people how they would rate the honesty and ethics of people in different fields. Nurses were at the top with 82% of people polled rating honesty and ethics at “high / very high”. Members of Congress were at the bottom with just 8% of people rating their ethics at “high / very high.” Where were Building Contractors? Just below Bankers with only 26% of people rating Building Contractors  “high / very high.”  If it’s any consolation to home builders, it’s improved over the last seventeen years. In 1994, the percentage was only 17%!  At least people were three times as likely to trust them as they were to trust a congressman!

The fact of the matter is: People do not have that kind of trust in building contractors, because many builders do not deserve it. This sentiment is nothing new. For more than a century, the building profession has tried to eradicate unprofessionalism with zoning, licensing, permitting, inspections and all sorts of legislation. We tried every regulatory attempt we can think of. Some of these efforts have had some impact. Nevertheless, we stand near the lower quadrant of the reputation totem pole.

Up until now, the entire modern era of building, our profession’s reputation has suffered. It’s been too easy for bad contractors to mask their performance with a license or bare minimum code compliance. It’s been difficult for people to find great companies among the mediocre or really bad ones.

Fortunately, that has all changed in recent times. The winds of change started happening with the emergence of customer ratings on sites such as Google, Yahoo, Yelp, and Angie’s List.

Next: The Rating Sites get Rated too. 

The Rating Sites were rated by Consumer Reports in 2013. Consumer Reports had some concerns that some rating systems can be gamed by fake reviews and that advertising on the sites can sway visitors. Advertisers on Angie’s List get more profile views than companies that don’t buy ads. Who indeed, can you trust?

Knowing how important reputation and reviews are to choosing the best builder, in 2005 we asked GuildQuality, a company that provides customer satisfaction surveying for builders and remodelers to send our clients a customer satisfaction survey after move-in. We like that GuildQuality’s surveying is completely impartial, and their website has no paid advertising. It’s also a great tool that helps us identify where we need improvement and helps us deliver an exceptional client experience. For a summary of our customer feedback, click here: GuildQuality.

Recently GuildQuality posted that in 2009, they looked at the recommendation rate among all Guildmembers, including those who have recently gone out of business. They observed that among those in early 2008 that had a recommendation rate below 80%, one in five had gone out of business a year later. Among those with a recommendation rate greater than 95%, only one in fifty had shut their doors.

The verdict: Companies with exceptional service are 10X more likely to succeed than mediocre businesses. 

The internet is making service and quality more transparent, and the scales are tipping towards the best home contractor businesses. The poorly run companies and service providers will find it increasingly difficult to find customers, and could potentially go out of business. It’ll be interesting to see a Gallop Poll in another 5-10 years to see if the “new reputation economy” improves the honesty / ethics rankings of building contractors!