Custom Home Magazine National Customer Service Award
Lawson Calhoun wants to shed some light
on the mysteries of custom home building, where his clients'
fears fester. After almost 30 years of selling and building
houses, he's concluded that the most important service he can provide
his customers is to make them comfortable with the process. "I think
that education about the process is a level of customer service
that most builders don't think about," he says. "Buying a house
can be a traumatic experience for peoplethey don't know what
to expect or what's expected of them."
His solution to the problem is his new "client book," which quite
simply gathers in one volume all the bits of information a builder
accumulates during the course of building a custom home. Section
headings include the schedule, contract, plans, specifications,
allowances, and so on through to warranty and insurance. "What it
does is demystify the process," he says. "It takes away all the
gobbledy-gook." Although more builders are writing customer orientation
manuals these days, most of them wait until they have a signed contract
before they hand them out. Calhoun thinks that's already too late.
He hands out a generic version of his book to prospective clients.
"It becomes not just an educational tool, but a marketing one, too."
he explains. "No other builder in my area is doing this. The book
brings about a credibilityeverything is there in black and
whitefull disclosure." Since he started using the book seven
years ago, he's noticed a marked change in his customers' attitudes,
he says. The nature of their phone calls has gone from full panic
to "I can't find my tub allowance on the sheet."