I learned the value of earning customers for life from my father, Roy Ruehlen Sr., a carpenter who did side jobs on the weekends.
“Do the job right the first time, so you don’t have to come back,” he’d say.
Dad had a list of maybe 100 loyal customers who would call him when they needed something done.
From building an addition to a humble, 1,000-square-foot ranch house in Warren, Michigan, to crafting custom cabinets for an auto executive in Grosse Pointe, his process was the same.
- He would ask questions
- Listen closely to the customer
- Sketch out the job
- Write up a detailed quote
- Confirm the deal with a handshake
- Get working
When the work was done, he would have a final walk-through with the customer. If something was even a little off, he’d fix it at no extra charge.
He put the customer first and kept his promises. And they called him when a new project came up. Sometimes it was a few months later and for others, it was 10 years later, but customers called back because he delivered quality work at a fair price.
It must be said that my dad didn’t advertise, have a business card, or even bother to name his company. Amazingly, he turned down more jobs than he took on due to lack of time.
The lessons I learned being dad’s apprentice stuck, and I’ve always tried to apply them in the business world.