by Art Levy
Updated 5 yearss ago
During the worst of the economic downturn, residential builder and remodeler PBS Contractors cut its workforce from 35 to 10.
“Massive segments of the market just no longer existed,” says Russell Budd, the construction company’s founder and CEO.
Bart Zino, the company’s president, knew PBS would have to somehow differentiate itself from competitors in order to survive. His idea: “Concierge” customer service — going beyond showing up for appointments and finishing projects on time and within budget.
So, for example, after completing a remodeling project for clients who were still out of town, PBS workers moved furniture from a storage unit back into the house and even put fresh linens on the bed. “They unpacked and put everything in place for us, including putting items back in drawers,” says Loren Morris, who hired PBS to renovate his Naples house last year.
Workers have also helped clients with errands and given them with rides to the airport.
“We’ll do anything reasonable and sometimes unreasonable for our customer,” Budd says. “You see that look on their face and you feel the gratitude. That inspires us to do it again and again. You can’t fake this.”
Dana Lark, a real estate broker in Naples, hired PBS to remodel a bathroom and two bedrooms in her Naples home. Typically, she returns home from her office at midday to walk her dog, a golden retriever named Coomer. “They were like, ‘We’ll do that for you.’ So they would walk her and feed her and take care of her when I was gone,” Lark says. “I did think that was kind of going above and beyond.”
Lark says the PBS workers were sincere in being helpful, but she understands the word-of-mouth benefits that the extra services create for the company. “I think it does help them sell their company,” she says. “I’ve referred several friends and clients to them.”
Last year, PBS’ revenue was up about 10% from the year before to $7 million. This year, Zino projects revenue will rise 20%.
“This was key to getting through the down time,” Budd says. “But when you do something nice for somebody that they really appreciate, you feel good. So we’re doing this out of enlightened self-interest. We get a kick out of it. It makes business a lot more fun.”