More Than a Name, It’s a Mindset

October 8, 2013
SPECIAL FEATURES | Close-Ups
 
Going the Extra Mile

EXCELLENCE IN CUSTOMER SERVICE

 

Accurate Windows Inc.

Melbourne, Fla.

Most small business owners have big goals for growth and expansion, with versions of their businesses running through their heads that look much different than they do today. This isn’t the case for the owners of Accurate Windows, Inc., based in Melbourne, Fla.

“In the future, I think we’ll probably stay mostly how we are,” says Beth Burger, who owns and operates the business with her husband, Jeff. “We like to keep it small.”

  
 Jeff Burger, owner, Accurate Windows, is comfortable with keeping the company small in order to manage its customers’ experiences.

For the Accurate Windows team, keeping the business small means better service for homeowners. Past attempts at moderate growth resulted in service that was not up to par with what Beth and Jeff Burger expect for their business. So the small specialty replacement business will remain small well into the future, exclusively offering PGT windows to homeowners located on the Space Coast of Florida.

“Right before the housing market went down, we were struggling with growing and getting bigger,” says Burger. “We had two additional salesmen in the market and it was more than Jeff felt he could control. We want to know the people we have out there selling. Jeff likes to go with them to estimates to answer [homeowners’] questions. Keeping it small is good for us.”

Keeping it small, Burger notes, is how the Accurate Windows team can control the reins on its customers’ experience. Good customer service comes only at the hands of keeping a close eye on the details of the entire job—and being accurate, reliable and accessible every step of the way.

“I know it might sound like we’re not that ambitious to say we don’t want big growth, but we have a full plate and there are days that I think, if we take one more phone call, we might not see that customer until next week,” Burger says. “That’s not how we like it. Jeff likes to get to customers within two to three days for an estimate.”

This approach is not lost on the customers the company serves, says Rick Mullen, regional sales manager for PGT Industries. “They sell totally based on knowledge and trust,” he says of Accurate Windows. “They do not use a hard sell. They sell their company first and foremost. They stand behind their company more than most. They go above and beyond to service after the sale.”

A simple formula, perhaps, but it’s one that works well for the Accurate team.

Service Roots

Having worked in the window and door industry from the time he was 18 years old, Jeff Burger has learned about all aspects of the business. Starting as a warehouse helper in 1982, he was a salesman representing several prominent window companies when his boss retired in 2001. “So Jeff decided to make the change and open our own business,” Beth Burger recalls.

One of the current salesmen at Accurate has worked with Jeff since he was 18 years old and the company has used the same installer crew since its early days. Beth handles the administration side of the company and Jeff remains very involved in the selling and installation process of each job the company handles—which represents sales hovering in value around $1 million annually.

“Jeff has been in the business so long, and we were both born and raised here, so we have a lot of customers because when people think of windows, friends will say, ‘Oh, you need to call Jeff Burger.’”

In addition, the sales and installation teams at Accurate Windows are also longtime residents of Brevard County, Fla., and they “understand the value of maintaining a good, solid reputation,” Burger adds.

The Burgers knew from day one that operating a successful business would mean high levels of customer service—the type of service that has their current customers referring future customers to them. “We have been very fortunate to have worked with many wonderful customers who continue to refer friends and neighbors to Accurate Windows for their window and door needs,” Burger says. “Being a family owned and operated business allows us to customize projects for homeowners and work closely with them in creating their ideal home.”

All In the Details

  
 Accurate stays small enough to pay attention to all the details, all the time. This is the key to the company’s customer service mentality, officials state.

Aside from a few builders who have been with Accurate Windows from its start, the company is primarily a replacement business serving homeowners. Given the strict windborne debris building codes and inspection processes in Florida, window and door dealers serving consumers in this region are educators, consultants and project managers, Burger notes. “We have a lot of customers who are retirees and homeowners,” she says. “They’re worried about leaving their homes for six months at a time and having them protected.

“We have different wind codes and Miami-Dade certifications to meet if you’re in that windborne debris area,” she continues. “The windows have to meet these requirements. We have a lot of hurricane codes and they change every couple of years.”

The Accurate Windows team will, for example, encourage customers to explore different window lines depending on where they live and whether or not they have hurricane-rated shutters installed on their houses. After the educational sale, the Accurate approach is to handle the entire permitting process, thus ensuring that the appropriate permits are obtained and the customer doesn’t have to concern himself or herself with the necessary paperwork.

“We do the extra things,” Burger says. “If it’s an older home and we take out the windows, Jeff knows ahead of time from doing the estimate and drawing on his experience if it’s going to take off some of the stucco. If that is going to happen, we go ahead and include that in our repair price. We manage the stucco crew and make sure they’re there for the customer as soon as the window installation is done.”

Not all of Accurate’s competitors in the area have the same “cover the bases” approach, in Burger’s observation. “Some might just put an extra piece of trim below the window if there’s stucco damage,” she says. “Not us. We do it the right way. We know our installation price might be more, but we have a goal to do it right.”

The Accurate Windows approach to installation also includes helping homeowners with whatever tasks might be associated with the replacement—removing and then reinstalling hurricane shutters, moving furniture away from work sites, and sometimes even helping homeowners re-hang their blinds and drapes once the window is in. “We try to cover all the bases for the customers,” Burger says.

And when unexpected situations pop up during a project—a broken clip on a hurricane shutter or some unanticipated frame damage—Accurate Windows doesn’t consider the project complete until the entire situation has been resolved. “We just had a recent situation where the window sill broke when the window came out,” she recalls. “We went to Home Depot, bought a new sill immediately and installed the new one. We want the project to be completed when we’re done.”

Accurate will even go so far as working with alarm companies to detach and reattach home security systems. One of its installation crews has a general contractor licensed with the state so if there’s termite damage or some other type of frame damage, the project can be managed entirely by Accurate Windows. “Again, it keeps the customer from having to call their own contractor,” Burger adds.

Reputation Matters

  
 Long-time employees ensure consistency over time with clients, and Accurate Windows protects its reputation with low employee turnover.

When the market began to rebound from its extended contraction, the Burgers weren’t interested in replacing the additional sales people they had once had. “I do think being small helps with customer service,” Burger says. “We’re family owned and operated and we’d really like to keep it that way.”

With a solid team having worked together for so long, Accurate Windows’ employees walk in locked step to make sure the customer has an experience worth sharing “The salesmen who are with us have been with us for years. I don’t see us bringing on new folks as employees.”

This low turnover and limited growth approach means that Accurate Windows can maintain its high-touch level of service for its core customers. “When people come in here two years after we’ve done their job, we recognize them and I can say, “Hi, Mr. Smith. How are you? How can I help you?’”

This approach resonates with Accurate Windows’ customers—and has left the company with an impressive Angie’s List track record.

A recent customer shared her feedback with the company, making particular note of the installation crew. “They are to be commended for a custom, careful, detailed, and professional job. It is obvious that they are dedicated employees interested in doing quality work for your business.”

The consistent approach resonates with Accurate’s vendors and suppliers as well. “I truly believe they have been doing business for long enough they have become a well-oiled machine and made it into a science,” says Brittney Redmond of Town & Country Industries. “They are efficient and accurate, which are wonderful traits for a distributor to find in a customer.”