Quality control consistently ranks in the top three factors that determine the success–and profitability–of a dealer's installed sales program. Achieving top-notch quality takes investment, time, and skilled installers working according to disciplined processes. Beyond that, there are various ways to maximize quality, and the path you choose depends on the size and maturity of your installed sales operation.
It should be standard operating procedure to begin each job with a checklist and to make it available to customers in pre- and post-job walkthroughs. Ultimately, the customers decide whether you've met an adequate quality standard, so they should have the power to sign off on a job.
Such steps are central to setting clear expectations, which are key to building and managing quality customer relationships. A customer who doesn't get surprises because he knew what to expect is more likely to be a repeat customer.
Hiring specialists for each type of installed sales your company performs–gutters, roofs, windows, doors, and so on–helps ensure you have the people most qualified to meet your standards. Just as employees specialize, the trucks they drive should be specialized as well. Jacks of all trades simply can't get and maintain the needed expertise.
If you hire your own installers, plan to pay for training, especially vendor-specific classes such as those that window and insulation manufacturers offer. This training will ensure that installers have the most detailed knowledge and hands-on experience when putting in a given product. Many dealers maintain that hiring employees to do installation increases their level of quality control because they have tighter lines of accountability with their own employees.
If you prefer to use subcontractors, limit their numbers so quality control doesn't slip as business expands. Experts say that when subs are involved, they have to apply extra due diligence in checking on their work and spot-checking their jobs several times per week. Empower your quality control czar to reject work or shut down a job if necessary.
Neatness counts. The appearance of a jobsite says a lot about the installation company's pride in its work.
The strongest players view the installed business as a competitive advantage–a way to differentiate themselves–not as a necessary evil. They rely on rigorous documentation to keep the installers on their toes; think three-ring binders with vendor product specs, internal quality control requirements, end-of-day checklists, and the like.
With such documentation, quality becomes less subjective and more of a quantitative metric. Didn't get a "yes" for every item on the quality checklist? Then the job's not done. The most quality-conscious dealers sometimes even withhold salary until a perfect score has been achieved.
Installers can go beyond basic training and gain vendor certification for specific products they are working with. Dealers can get a better handle on how well they're performing in the customers' eyes with periodic surveys that let customers rank and evaluate their performances. That feedback loop is a great indicator of whether customers will come back to you for their next projects.