Foundation Repair Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What has changed in your company or industry in the last year and what have you done, or are planning to do differently to adapt to these changes?
2014 was a year of adapting in the foundation repair industry. Our business is often weather driven, and Houston saw a lot of rain, which was not good news. Foundation repair contractors like it hot and dry, preferably resulting in a long-term drought. In Houston, it was wet, wet, wet. Fix My Slab expanded its services to include digging trenches for plumbers who repair and install pipeline and offering drainage planning and installation to property owners.
Intangibly, Fix My Slab continues to adapt to technology. While we wanted to dig our heels in the dirt (or possibly bury our heads in it), there is no escaping social media in today’s world. Now, we update our sites weekly and keep a blog with what we hope is information that the general homeowner can use. Social media is a great tool for connecting with the consumer, but we believe it should be used productively, not as a gimmick aimed at garnering the greatest number of hits.
Why would/should a consumer choose your company over your competitors?
Houston, Texas is the largest market in the United States for our industry–in dollars, in number of companies and in average crews per company. It can be difficult to differentiate yourself in Houston. So, what Fix My Slab strives to do is adhere to our company motto, which we began using in 2012. “On time. Fair Price. Fixed.” These five short syllables sum up exactly what we are trying to do in this business.
Home repair representatives are notorious for running late or giving the customer a “window” of arrival–the dreaded window! Things do happen, and if we cannot be on time, we contact the customer immediately. We ask for two phone numbers and an email address when setting the appointment, so it is unusual that we cannot make contact. Fix My Slab schedules to the half hour and makes every attempt to be punctual. Foundation contracting companies run the gamut on pricing in Houston. Fix My Slab is a for-profit business but never gouges the customer. Other companies get into foundation repair seasonally without regard for warranty work or long-term care. Fix My Slab fixes it’s homes and offers a lifetime transferrable warranty. We honor that warranty by making needed adjustments on any work we have done. We recognize that homes will continue to move as the elements around them change. This is Houston, after all, where expandable clay soils abound. As we engrain our core beliefs in ourselves and our employees, we will produce quality work that will not be paralleled in the industry.
How does your company stay on top of the latest processes, technology, and trends?
Ty Stricklin and Eric Ewing, owner and general manager, respectively, regularly attend regular Association meetings, training events and seminars where new technology and processes are showcased. They are both also involved in a small-business networking group that is not industry-specific but allows for learning about what other home contractors are doing. The Internet can make easy work of keeping abreast of the latest developments regarding concrete companies and manufacturers and their products. Ty also attends shows, such as the World of Concrete Expo., where the newest technology is exhibited.
How do you determine your customer needs?
Our customer needs are often weather driven. When it is hot and dry, we expect our customers to report wall and brick cracks and sticking doors, among other signs of movement. When, it is especially wet, like this past year, we expect to hear about drainage issues and possible heaving of the soil underneath the structure. In many of these cases, we can advise the consumer over the telephone, saving him or her unneeded repairs and uneducated advice.
How are you establishing a long-lasting relationship with your customers and how do you follow up after the job/sale is completed?
While we have established a level of service and open communication that is unparalleled. We do have an abundance of residential customers who flip houses or manage houses for other members of their families. They will call on us repeatedly to work on their different properties.
Because our company does offer other services in conjunction with foundation repair–tunneling, trenching, trenching–we rely on our customers to refer us to others and to call us when these services are needed. So far, our work has spoken for itself, and customers have been happy both to refer us and to call us for other services.
While Fix My Slab does offer a lifetime transferrable warranty, so far we have only had to revisit customers who need minor adjustments. When that is the case, we are out to examine the home within one week and, if needed, have a crew within the next week. With the expectation of high quality coming from the top down, we hope that our customers feel they are treated with the respect they are due.
After a job is completed, we call the following week to check in a see if the customer is satisfied or has any concerns. We send a warranty in the mail, if applicable, though the paper warranty is not needed to have a follow-up visit.
Can you provide any examples of situations in which your company put the customer’s interest ahead of its own?
Last year, Fix My Slab repaired a home in which the homeowner had recently revamped the landscaping in hopes to sell the home after completing the slab project. Any legitimate landscaper (or home contractor) knows that foundation repair should be completed first. We have to dig trenches around the home. When established plants are there, we can remove them and replace them with little or no plant loss. New plants go through root shock and often will not take an immediate replanting. Sure enough, many of these plants died. Our contract states that we are not responsible for landscaping. However, these customers were clearly distressed and spending money left and right to get their home show-ready. So, we invited them to our shop, which we share with Ty’s brother, who has a landscaping company. He often has leftover plants in stock. After the customers chose their plants, we made a repeat visit at no cost to them and installed the landscaping, losing a day of work for one crew.
Late summer is our busiest time of year. It’s the driest, and foundation repair contractors like hot and dry weather. Before each job, we contact Texas 811 to have all the electrical and water lines marked so that we do not damage them when we dig around the perimeter of the house. So, when we hit an electrical line, we were not responsible for the missed mark. Centerpoint Energy would not be able to repair the line for 48 hours. This family had recently moved to Houston from out-of-state, and this was August in Houston, Texas. We paid for a motel for what turned out to be just one night. We also brought a generator to the home so that the family did not have to lose the food in their refrigerator and freezer.
Describe how you maintain your reputation in the community and describe your company’s involvement in community or charitable activities. Houston foundation repair
Fix My Slab has an excellent reputation in the community, due in large part to Ty Stricklin, owner, and Eric Ewing, general manager. Ty cannot stress enough how important it is to be consistently upfront and attentive to the customers. We have found that showing people respect gets us a long way, and usually these are easy things to do. Call the customer back promptly, give him or her enough time in person or on the telephone to voice questions and concerns, show up on time with foremen who are experienced and well-spoken in English and Spanish: these alone typically guarantee us a referral. Online reviews and/or referrals and our A BBB rating also help maintain our reputation. We have had two negative reviews, which we addressed, out of about 80+ in the last five years.
In 2014, Fix My Slab participated in a number of charities, including supporting a number of Cy-Fair area schools, both public and private. We sponsored a golf tournament for The Connection School of Houston, the softball team for Cypress Ranch High School, and the cheerleading team at Sam Houston State. This is our second year to contribute landscaping labor and supplies to The Connection School. We are proud supporters of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, with staff volunteering and monetary contributions. We contribute to and participate in Marketplace Ministries events, an organization that places chaplains in the workplace. We are always open to any local charities to which we can contribute.
Ty stresses to his staff that educating the customers is beneficial to both them and the company. It benefits no one to sell foundation repair when it is not needed. Our customers are too important; our reputation is too valuable. In an industry where there are more seasonal companies than those in it for the long haul, we at Fix My Slab can state that in 2014 we elevated consumer expectations in Houston’s foundation repair industry.