Here are the questions we shared in the last post — ones you should ask a contractor that you are interviewing so that you know what you’re going to get when you sign a contract with them:
- How long have you been in business under this name?
- How long have you been operating in Dallas?
- Has paying your taxes inhibited your growth?
- How many employees do you have?
- Who takes your calls on off hours?
- What percentage of your jobs exceed the initial $ estimate?
- What percentage of your jobs exceed the initial timeline estimate?
- What is your guarantee on your workmanship? What is the recourse if something was completed improperly?
- What are your processes for managing your jobs?
- What emphasis do you place on craftsmanship?
- What technologies do you use to manage jobs?
- What is your philosophy on permits?
- What are some names of previous clients who are not listed on your website testimonials?
- How many jobs have you stopped before completion? And for what reason (you quit, owner decided to choose a new contractor, etc.)?
- What do you do to give back to the community?
And below, we answer these questions ourselves. As you read, perhaps the implications of each question will become more clear. We hope some of our answers will resonate with you!
How long have you been in business under this name? How long have you been operating in Dallas?
Contractors of all kinds have the reputation for closing up shop. You aren’t happy, you threaten a lawsuit: they change their number, open a new LLC and you are ... left unhappy. We have only been in business as Summey Industries, and we have only been in operation in the Dallas metroplex. While we may open up additional companies under our Summey Industries umbrella, we will not disintegrate that entity. The company has been established since 2008.
Has paying your taxes inhibited your growth? What is your philosophy on permits?
Um, yes. Paying taxes is a pain as a small business owner. A huge chunk of our overhead goes straight to the IRS. A huge, huge chunk. It can be disheartening at times, and so we understand how other companies get tempted to fudge the numbers, avoid paying, or declare bankruptcy. Similarly, permits can hold up a job and cost additional dollars. If another company is drastically cheaper, this is often the reason why. Some people may think it’s not their problem if they are hiring a company who evades taxes, ignores permit laws, or hires illegal immigrants. But if a company is willing to dishonestly handle their own business in this way, I would have some major concerns about how they are handling me as a client.
How many employees do you have? Who takes your calls on off hours?
You will notice most contractors are a one-man-show, or at most a limited partnership. By employing an ever-growing team of employees with diverse specialties we are able to tighten control of our supply chain and thereby offer our clients a better product and better communication. We are able to take calls and texts and emails on off days, on holidays, and during the night in an emergency. Employee loyalty directly affects the quality of craftsmanship, and a Contractor that is alone on payroll is often prioritizing his bottom line over his client’s end product and overall experience.
What percentage of your jobs exceed the initial $ estimate? What % exceed the initial timeline estimate?
We HAVE NEVER charged a client over the initial contract budget for the initial contract scope. That is absolutely unheard of in this industry. Further, we have a history (and testimonials) of clients to whom we have returned money at completion of a project where we were able to find ways to save. This means we attempt to bid accurately, because we aim to spouting optimism simply to get the contract signed. We lose jobs to folks who work this way - but only once. Next time that client will call us. We are also willing to sign a contract for timeline to incentivize the team and the client to work in synergy in order to complete the project deadline.
What is your guarantee on your workmanship? What is the recourse if something was completed improperly? What are some names of previous clients who are not listed on your website testimonials?
As builders, we will not compromise on quality, but rather seeks to establish a brand that consumers trust and will pay a premium for. We offer a 1-year workmanship guarantee. We haven’t had a client yet who is unwilling to be asked about our work on their project — and if someone is willing to share their info, we will share it. We are not whitewashing our testimonials list.
What are your processes for managing your jobs?
This is one of our major differentiators. Early in the business I hired a former BCG rising star to manage operations. The systems we have developed are layered and multi-faceted, as you will learn in the pages that follow. We have them down to a science which means you understand more as a client about your job and about what is about to happen in your space. We have a custom formula that leads each client through the design process, through the building process, and through the billing process. We begin each job with an inquiry and follow the completion of each project immediately with a survey. Nothing we do is haphazard. Perhaps this is our biggest differentiator, as you can operate a contracting business with a general idea of what to install next but without a process for excellent customer/vendor/subcontractor service, the project is bound to be slapped together instead of carefully considered.
What technologies do you use to manage jobs?
We use WorkflowMax and Xero to monitor job hours, punch lists, job fulfillment, and follow up. We combine these technologies with a series of mind-boggling excel sheets. An app to manage jobs using our proprietary processes is in the works as well. At all times, our goal is to use every tool available to us to provide the best product and service possible.
What do you do to give back to the community?
It is difficult to answer this question without appearing to use the work we do to make ourselves look great. That’s not our goal. But we would be remiss if we neglected to tell you about the most valued aspect of our business. We are so grateful to the families who trust us enough in their crisis or their brokenness to say “yes” when we are able to help. It sounds like an easier answer to give than it is, usually. To say “yes” to help requires immense humility. And we are humbled every time we are equipped to make an offer to help for free. At the risk of sounding braggadocios, we choose to share about our “Giving Back” business because it is our baby. It is the segment of Summey Industries that reminds us that our profit isn’t our literal bottom line. For us, the people we donate our time or materials to to help out of a crisis are the ones that keep us going from year to year. If we can’t give back in 2016, we will close up shop. We strive for integrity in all the above areas so that we will continue to have the opportunity to serve. And we are grateful for the opportunities where we have been able to serve from 2008-2016.
Our wording, our numbers, our employees may change through the years. But our commitment to integrity in the above matters will not waver. You can count on that!
Starting with the estimate- we take a detailed survey to gather information to decide the best way to give you a quote.