Although the company has experienced growth, one thing has remained constant: its commitment to customer service. According to Vice President Kathy Smith, this dedication to high-quality service starts at the top with product design and permeates throughout every step in the production, sales, and installation processes. “We attribute much of our success to the loyal and hardworking group of employees and contractors we have on board. Our designers, contractors, and inside support and service staff are all truly committed to providing the highest possible level of service to our customers,” she said.
Smith went on to explain that the company’s origins and business model both play major roles in fostering this service-oriented culture. With gross annual revenues totaling anywhere between $13 million and $20 million, Builders Carpet Design Center is certainly a sizeable operation, but it lacks the large corporate resource pool that many industry giants can draw from. To compensate, the family-owned business relies heavily on service, offering customers enjoyable and memorable experiences.
“Being a family-owned business definitely influences our culture. Our employees treat the company as though they own it, always looking out for its best interests. In this day and age, consumers want to do business with a company that cares about them, not one that treats them like they are just a number,” Smith said. “At Builders Carpet, we really care about our customers and want them to be satisfied not only with the products they purchase but also with how they’re treated during the sales process.”
A knowledgeable team
The most influential factor in Builders Carpet Design Center’s customer-service equation is, of course, its staff; without a hard-working and truly committed staff, customer satisfaction is almost impossible for any company to attain. As a family-owned business, Builders Carpet Design Center has an intimate employee culture, which allows it to foster ideas and development input from the executive team, mid-level managers, and front-line staff. Ultimately, this creates an environment in which every individual, from the top down, is working toward a common goal: satisfying every customer.
“Our employees have always been key. We’ve been fortunate because we have a very low turnover rate, and all of our employees care very much about the business. In turn, we do not have to micromanage,” Smith said. “All of our employees are more than capable of carrying out the jobs they were hired to do, and we trust that they will perform well.”
With a low turnover rate, Builders Carpet Design Center doesn’t have to recruit staff as regularly as other businesses do, but new hires still need to be brought in every now and then. When Smith and her team are looking for a new employee, they rarely turn to traditional methods. Although newspaper ads and online job postings are able to reach a large base of people, they fall flat in terms of quality filters.
For this reason, Smith and her team rely on their strong business network when looking to expand their staff. This helps ensure that the work ethic, talent level, and long-term view of the individuals brought on align well with those of the company. “If we have a vacant position within our company, we generally ask our employees if they know anyone who might do well here. We also work very closely with our suppliers, using our salesmen to help spread the word.”
The road ahead
Like many businesses in the retail industry, Builders Carpet Design Centers faced an assortment of challenges in 2009. According to Smith, the company’s strategy became one of basic survival. She and her team worked hard to cut costs, reduce overhead, and efficiently manage cash flow. They also worked closely with their suppliers, some of whom extended contract terms in a show of support. Looking to the year ahead, Smith expects much of the same.
“We don’t see much improvement heading into 2010,” she said, noting that the company has learned to do more with less. “Our plan is to continue to manage our costs with a close eye. We aren’t hiring any new employees, but we are trying to expand our customer base and sell higher volumes of products to existing customers.”
Looking further down the road, Builders Carpet Design Center’s goals include long-term strength and profitability. To work toward this objective, the company plans to expand its offering. Just recently, for example, it began to offer cabinets.
“By offering a large selection of products, we allow our customers to come into the store and fulfill all of their needs in one place,” Smith said. “This is convenient for them, and it helps us grow.”