In a Word: Service
"For example," said the owner of Morris-Jenkins Co., "in a manufacturing business, the product can be made to a pre-engineered standard. Then, before the product leaves the plant, it can be inspected to ensure it meets that standard."
Not so in the service business, he is quick to point out.
"From the moment our customer calls until our technician arrives and completes the repairs, everything is done â€˜real time.' This includes taking the call, entering it in the computer, assigning the correct technician, coordinating a time that the customer can meet us at his home, getting the technician there on time and with the right parts. And, of course, completing the repair."
In this environment, said the contractor, "We know mistakes will be made." In his estimation, what helps set Morris-Jenkins Co. ahead of the replacement/add-on pack is that it works at providing "exceptional" service. It works on "What happens next" - and let Jenkins explain that observation.
"When mistakes happen - and we know they will - we make every effort to correct them promptly and to the customer's satisfaction," he said. "It is in those circumstances that going the extra mile is most important."
One cannot argue with this business strategy and philosophy. It earned Dewey Jenkins a spot on The NEWS' 2006 Residential All-Stars. It ranks right behind repeat winner American Home Maintenance on the Replacement/Add-On squad. For the record, Morris-Jenkins brought in over $15 million in 2005, with 100 percent of that coming from the residential replacement/add-on market.
"Simply put," said Jenkins, "our business can be defined as people providing service to people. I have learned that not everyone is cut out to be in a service business. Those who do choose to serve others are a special breed. We make every effort to identify applicants with an aptitude for service during the recruiting process and then when they join our team, we treat them as the special people they are."
MUST HAVE GROWTH, FUNMorris-Jenkins employs over 130 and serves a 30-mile radius in Charlotte, N.C. It concentrates its marketing efforts on neighborhoods that are over eight years old. This focus has helped the company increase its revenue from nearly $12.5 million in 2004 to more than $15 million one year later.
"Part of my philosophy is a belief in growth," said Jenkins. "To me, the business is not a fun place to work unless there's growth. Growth provides opportunity."
A hint that Morris-Jenkins is a fun place to work surfaced earlier this year. Based, in part, on what employees relayed regarding the company they work for, The NEWS honored Morris-Jenkins as one of its winners in its annual "Best Contractor to Work for" contest.
"We engage our employees and keep them involved," explained Jenkins. "We inform every employee of the company's goals. We then make every effort to remove the obstacles in their way and give them the freedom to use their talents and unique capabilities to reach the goals."
Having informed employees translates into having happy employees, believes Jenkins.
"We are very open with information," he assured. "We have a managers' meeting each week. In turn, each manager meets with his or her department weekly. Then, once a month, we have a joint meeting with all 21 managers and supervisors attending."
From September through April, the owner shares information about revenues, department performances, and company goals. "We also publicly recognize our team members for their accomplishments," noted Jenkins.
With happy and informed employees, one can face the replacement/add-on market head-on, he said. "The residential replacement market is difficult," he agreed. "The customers are increasingly demanding. Each and every service or sales call is unique. The companies that are currently providing a high level of customer service will prosper and do just fine."
STAYING SUCCESSFULWith that in mind, Jenkins knows his company cannot rest on its laurels. He knows it will become increasingly difficult for companies that do not train their employees and/or provide only marginal service.
"When I purchased the company in 1990, we worked Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We provided only limited emergency service beyond those hours. Customers would not accept that today. Today, we fully staff our business and provide service seven days a week."
Jenkins is steadfast on remaining successful in the replacement/add-on market. He intends to provide employees "with the best training in the industry," he said, plus encourage their professional growth. In the end, with Jenkins at the helm, Morris-Jenkins will "listen to our customers and cater our service to their needs."
"I have no fears that this market will eventually dry up," he said, quickly adding, "but I do think it will become more difficult. The customers are squeezed for time and it is becoming increasingly difficult to meet their expectations."
In the big picture, Jenkins believes that the change to 13 SEER has made installation of replacement equipment much more difficult. Airflow - now more than ever - is critical.
"I anticipate that we will be called on to service equipment that isn't working properly because of improper installation, more than in the past," explained Jenkins. "The challenge comes in explaining to the customer why it can't be fixed simply by replacing a part. Much of the installation will have to be redone - and, this will be expensive."
DON'T WORRY; BE HAPPYOf course, Jenkins will be the first to inform anyone within earshot that there is a flip side - meaning, for every problem there is a golden opportunity.
"More equipment being installed improperly means more opportunity for our company," he said, flat out. "We train our technicians to diagnose the entire system, not just find a failed part. So, we will be paid to solve problems created by other contractors."
Looking at the overall business road path, Jenkins is positive that one cannot go wrong by focusing on the company's employees, as well as the company's customers.
"We know that if our employees are happy, they will go the extra mile to make our customers happy," Jenkins told The NEWS earlier this year, when Morris-Jenkins made the "Best Contractor" list. "And, that's the foundation of a good company."
A $15 million-plus company, that is - a company that also made and finished high atop The NEWS' 2006 Residential All-Stars, Replacement/Add-On team.
Publication date: 09/11/2006