How NOT to earn a new customer's (client's) respect

Mortgage and Lending with Crescent Bank & Trust

Go to fullsize imageSeveral weeks ago I posted a blog about poor experience with the roofing industry. Since then, I've experienced a taste of roofers who occupy both ends of the spectrum of professionalism. For the purpose of entertainment (my own and yours), I'll start with the shallow end of the gene pool. We'll call this roofer Bubba.

Bubba works for a company that was glowingly recommended by one of my neighbors in our neighborhood's Yahoo group. After reading the recommendation, I called to verify that no problems had come up since he posted the recommendation. In the conversation, my neighbor specifically told me to ask for "Bill".

Poor Service Clue #1: When I asked for Bill, the receptionist told me he no longer worked there.

Poor Service Clue #2: When Bubba called me to arrange to inspect my roof, he insisted on doing so in tandem with my insurance adjuster. This didn't sound kosher to me, but it was OK with the adjuster, so I agreed to go along with it.

Poor Service Clue #3: In casual conversation the day of the roof inspection, Bubba disclosed to myself and my wife that he was in the process of a divorce and is presently "living with a friend". The clue here doesn't reflect any prejudice on my part toward divorce, it's just that there are some subjects one should avoid when conversing with strangers (especially when those strangers are potential customers). This went way beyond TMI.

Poor Service Clue #4: When several days after the inspection I called Bubba and asked for a written estimate, he replied "Oh, we don't do business that way. When you get the numbers from your adjuster, just pass them along and we'll go from there."

Poor Service Clue #5: I skimmed over the packet Bubba had passed along to us the day he crawled around on the roof with the adjuster.  There were no shingle samples inside, but there were two disclosures that gave me pause: 1) Your insurance check will serve as a downpayment to order the shingles, with remaining payment to be paid upon completion. 2) We do not provide written estimates.

I didn't discover Clue #6 until I had hired a professional roofer after receiving a prompt and highly-detailed written estimate.  Three weeks had passed since my "just let me know when you have the money" conversation with Bubba. My phone rang as I was having dinner. I didn't recognize the name on caller ID. When I answered, Bubba The Roofer was on the line.  The conversation was truly classic:

BUBBA: It's been a few weeks since we talked. When would you like me to start on your roof?

CLARK: I won't be needing you. I've hired another roofer.

BUBBA: I thought we had an agreement. Why did you do that?

CLARK: I asked you for a written estimate and you basically refused to provide one. When I talked to the 2nd roofer, he had no problem putting it in writing.

BUBBA: (After a pregnant pause)- I spent a lot of time on your roof and went to a lot of trouble. This kinda burns my ---, you know?

CLARK: Click.

Roofer #2 provided a detailed, written estimate as promised.

Roofer #2 provided shingle samples along with the estimate and does not expect payment up front.

Roofer #2 called to schedule the job immediately after we accepted his estimate.

Roffer #2 called to let us know when to expect the shingles & rolloff dumpster to be delivered. Both arrived exactly as scheduled.

Roofer #2 has scheduled to start the tear-off tomorrow, and I have no doubt that we'll wake up to hammers & ladders.

Bubba does not deserve to stay in business.

Posted by

North Metro Atlanta community banker, Woodstock, GA

Comments (8)

Chanda Barrick
Keller Williams Indy Metro Northeast - Indianapolis, IN
in referral

Bubba definitely sounds like he's running a shady operation!  Glad you decided to go with someone else!

Chanda panda

May 28, 2009 12:43 PM
Irene Kennedy RealtorĀ® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ


Thank goodness you're a smart consumer. Bubba will prey on (or bully) others who may not be as sharp.  We're always an example and Bubba is a bad one!

May 28, 2009 12:51 PM
Clark Blackwell
Crescent Bank & Trust - Woodstock, GA

Chanda & Irene, Thank you for reading my blog! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the roofer I've hired is as good at actually tearing-off old & installing new shingles as they are at pre-closing customer service. My gut tells me that the service I've received thus far is a strong indication that the job itself will be just as professional.

May 29, 2009 12:57 AM
Jackie DeShazer
Montana Country Real Estate - Libby, MT

Talking about your divorce with potential clients is definitely not a way to earn your client's respect, Bubba sounds like a real winner.  

Jun 02, 2009 04:24 PM
Clark Blackwell
Crescent Bank & Trust - Woodstock, GA

Jackie, Thank you for reading my blog. As Paul Harvey used to say, "Now, here's the ressst of the story":  Not only did Roofer #2 do everything correctly, efficiently, and professionally BEFORE the installation, his crew completed the removal of my old shingles, replacement of 4 sheets of damaged plywood decking, and installation of the BEAUTIFUL new shingles in two 12-hour days.  They arrived both days on time, completed the job quietly (relatively speaking) and professionally, and cleaned up 100% of their mess when the job was done. The job cost was what they said it would be (to the penny). To top it all off, they went over our lawn with a large, powerful magnet to pick up all stray nails and loaded a damaged basketbal backboard and old swingset into their rolloff dumpster at no extra charge (at least a $50 value).

Roofer #2's company name is Findlay Roofing. If you know anyone in the Atlanta Area who needs a new roof, you can't get a better roofer.

Jun 03, 2009 07:32 AM
Bob Hirsch
The AVD Group - Bellflower, CA

My wife and I have hired painters, drywallers, roofers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc.  In all cases we got 2-3-4 bids on the job and at that time were also able to pick the brains of the folks who came out to look at the property.  This allowed us to note who was professional, organized, knowledgeable, etc. and also to pick up good information from experts in the field.  We've made mistakes, but darn few.  It does pay to get several estimates.

Jun 04, 2009 10:01 AM
Betina Foreman
WJK Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, C.N.E., with WJK REALTY

Holy cow! How could this guy expect to get work when he is not acting like a professional? I would have run away from him too. It makes you wonder about his warranty policy?!?

Jun 11, 2009 01:58 AM
Clark Blackwell
Crescent Bank & Trust - Woodstock, GA

Betina, Thank you for reading my blog! I'd bet his warranty policy was as good as his marriage. The company we ended up hiring did everything 100% right. The day after the job was completed, we even received a "thank you" note in the mail, accompanied by a detailed invoice for collecting the "escrowed depreciation" from our insurance company and a professionally-bound copy of their 10-year warranty. I am extremely pleased with Findlay roofing's work.


Jun 11, 2009 09:05 AM