Victor Smolyanov had little choice when he started his own residential roofing company in suburban Detroit. As an immigrant with no family business legacy to settle into, and little formal training in business, he focused on what he could control: his company culture and how he treated customers.
More than a dozen years later, he's piloting Victors Roofing into a formidable presence in southeast Michigan’s roofing market, and is expected to generate roughly $12.5 million in revenue this year. He’s been able to do it by staying true to those two fundamental principles.
“From the very beginning, we’ve been focused on customer service and it’s helped our growth tremendously,” Smolyanov told the audience at 14th Best of Success conference in Dallas.
He then broke down what he called his four keys to customer service:
good communication, owning your mistakes, thanking your clients for their support, and market your raving fans.
Smolyanov presented a few real-world experiences where his company received poor initial reviews on social media.
“Sites like Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List are a great way for people to find us. It’s also a great place to get roasted if you do something bad,” he explained. “If you don’t care of your mistakes, you’ll be surprised how fast you can hurt your reputation.”
Though still painful for him to read aloud to an audience of his roofing industry peers, he captured the other roofers’ attention by showing how his team’s quick response and commitment to owning and correcting their mistakes turned those negative comments into raving reviews.
Adding a personal touch doesn’t hurt either. In each case, Smolyanov said that he reached out to the customer directly to apologize and craft a solution. He also dropped personal, hand-written notes with restaurant gift cards in the mail to reiterate his commitment to getting it right.
“Mistakes are always forgivable, as long as one has the courage to admit them,” he said, quoting martial arts legend Bruce Lee.