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The X Factor: Episode 3 – Customer Experience & Retention

March 1, 2022


In this episode, Ari Greenbaum interviews Jeff Wraley, founder of Groundwork, as they talk about the customer’s experience and retention in home improvement sales and why it’s important to the success of your business.

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Ari: Welcome to The X Factor: A Home Pro Sales Podcast. This is a podcast about all things sales to help Home Improvement pros generate high-quality leads, and close more deals. I’m your host, Ari Greenbaum. And in this podcast, we’re gonna talk about different tactics, tips, and resources to help you grow your business while interviewing sales experts and professionals in the industry. 

So first of all, quick little housekeeping notes. If you could rate us on the Apple products, you know, that purple icon, give us a five-star rating, leave a review, let us know you’re enjoying the podcast. We love feedback. 

And today, we’re going to be talking about a topic that is near and dear to any business, which is customer experience and retention. Again, we try to focus on sales with a podcast. And there is a direct connection during the selling process, that customer experience and obviously retention to those customers. So we do know it’s an essential part of the sales process. So I am blessed to have a wonderful guest today. His name is Jeff Wraley. He’s the founder of Groundwork. If you’re not familiar with Groundwork, I met Jeff a while back in August of 2019, through LinkedIn, doing some networking, and we started talking and the share with me what he is doing in terms of the product that he has, which is contractor focused, a fantastic

I don’t wanna steal any of Jeff’s thunder, and let him introduce what he does as well. But, you know, I was always enamored with it. And it’s exciting for me to be able to have someone that is, you know, a leader in the business, but also someone that really understands, like these kinds of things, the customer experience and the retention of customers in the value of that. So, Jeff, I don’t want to step on your toes, I’ll let you take it away from there, introduce yourself, and obviously Groundwork to a little more detail than I did.

Jeff: Awesome. Appreciate that, Ari. So, Groundwork is a virtual sales tool for home improvement contractors. The concept behind what we do is reducing wasted sales appointments. Many people listening will probably know the pain of driving an hour across town, either to get stood up by a homeowner or project sounded real good and you think it’s one thing but you get there and you know, three minutes into the conversation, it’s just a dead end lead. So, that time really stacks up for contractors. So you know, what we do is we really help contractors run a system where they collect video project walkthroughs, from homeowners ahead of that sales appointment. So we give me the ability to pre-qualify those leads and also build strong relationships with their ideal prospects. So we have collaboration features in the tool, that really kind of start to build trust virtually before that in-person sales appointment. Now, some trades, you know, we really drive towards the close of that business 100%, virtually, but the tool is flexible enough, and we understand construction. And you know, the special few trades that sometimes you gotta go take a look at our goal is when that’s the case that you feel very confident that you’re getting yourself into a situation where there’s a high likelihood of close. So that is the product. We’ve been around for a handful of years now and are excited to be on a podcast and talking about retention and all sorts of other fun stuff in the contractor sales world.

Ari: And just so people know, where would they be able to find you guys, you know, where the easiest way to get on the web and contact you if they were interested in learning more about that?

Jeff: Yeah, so  is our website. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, our handles, are @hellogroundwork on all those platforms. So yeah, come give us a shout. We’ve got some really cool tools on the site that help you kind of understand what the process is. I was just telling Ari before we started recording about, you know, our testimonials page we just rolled out to so like I said, we’re kind of a young company, getting going, especially in post COVID times, or maybe we’re still in COVID times I don’t know. You know, it’s been a really fun ride to see contractors really start to think differently about the way they’re selling. 

Ari: Yeah absolutely. So definitely check out Groundwork highly encourage it to big benefit for your business. So you know, again, I know that we’re here to talk about sales and customer experience retention. So as much as I love talking about products and cool features and all this fun stuff I want to make sure we get a keep it’s you know, targeted here. And customer retention. I mean it’s almost like a taboo subject for some people, I mean churn rates and retention rates of things. And you know, it’s often overlooked by many businesses, especially in the home improvement field. But you know, again, in your opinion in your experience, what is it and you know, why is it so important for a business and you know, especially if you want to focus on a home improvement business

Jeff: Yeah, so I think you know, in home improvement, the, really in any business gaining a new customer can be very difficult, right? There’s in the software business, there’s something called customer acquisition costs and that can be applied for home improvement businesses, too. I think it’s probably tracked less closely. But there’s just a mark How much does it cost you to get an appointment? How much does it cost you to get in and how many appointments is it cost you to get a sale, what’s your average sale. And there’s a really simple math equation you can do on that to kind of measure return on ad spend and all that stuff. But what is what makes those equations really work out to the positive is when you don’t have to work that hard to sell a new project. And lots of times, the answer to that is, who have you done work for in the past. And that can be a really quick way to reduce the amount of, you know, blood, sweat, tears, and dollars it takes to get a customer on board. And staying top of mind. When you know, even years down the line, this person is still on your email list, they’re still plugged into what you’re doing, you’re still keeping your brand top of mind, very important for home improvement contractors to be taking those steps to make sure that they have some loyalty built into their customer base.

Ari: Absolutely. I mean, you mentioned obviously, retention for home improvement contractors. I mean, the benefits are, I mean, if I understand that correctly, further reaching than just going back and maybe doing work for that client, again, because you’ve kept in touch and kept them in the loop. I mean, contractors, just like all of our businesses thrive on word of mouth and referral business. And obviously, this goes hand in hand that I assume you feel the same way when it comes to retaining them. It’s not just, you know, the delta of what that person’s bringing, but it’s also the exponential side of it as well.

Jeff: That’s right. And especially, I mean, if you think of a painting business might have a more kind of customer lifetime value than a lot of other companies, right, because like I painted the exterior of my house, well, now I want to paint, you know, get my cabinetry face, or I want to get, you know, the interior was redone,

Ari: Or the standard every five to six years, the average people redo painting on homes.

Jeff: That’s right, so there’s there is some recurring stuff there. But if you’re a tree company, and you take down a bunch of huge oak trees in somebody’s backyard, like, maybe that’s the tree work that they needed to get done for the next 10 years. So there’s, there’s definitely that second order, the second circles, the sphere of influence type of kind of networking, that is really, really, really important. And I think some of the newer types of advertising and kind of customer attention channels, with, you know, just email marketing, customer newsletters, and even social platforms, is a really, really good way to stay top of mind. And it’s much easier for people to share those types of things.

Ari: And you mentioned, you know, the cost, the time,  blood, sweat, tears, and money. But you know, all of those factors, and, you know, again, as a business owner, myself and understanding the metrics, the costs in retaining clients or retaining customers, just like it is in the world of employment, you know, many more costly to bring a new employee in then to retain existing employees. It’s the same kind of philosophy here is, again, all the things you just mentioned, I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, are very minimal cost when it comes to continuing to stay present in someone’s face, versus the amount of energy, time sweat, and tears often when it comes to going out and selling as well as the money spent. So in terms of cost-effectiveness, retention, it’s not just going to give you the bang for the end result, but also the bang for the buck in terms of a comparison to forming new business and what comes into that.

Jeff: Absolutely. And I think you kind of get two for one with that one you keep, you know, if you are, you know, running an email newsletter, if you are, you know, posting your projects on your social accounts, some of that new media type of stuff. You not only are keeping top of mind with existing customers, but when you get a new person in the door, and they start poking around, you know, they’re I think their stats out there, you know, 80-90% of homeowners are researching before they pick up the phone, they’re researching. Yep, yeah, they’re much more educated. So if you can have content along the way, to kind of give them a good sense of who you are. You’re also starting to break down some barriers for some of those new people. So it’s definitely a good practice to have in mind for retention and also for new customers.

Ari: Awesome. And yeah, obviously, I mean, as our company connects press, we’re hyper-focused on the customer experience. But from your perspective and your experiences, how does that customer experience directly affect retention? Would love to hear your thoughts on that.

Jeff: Yeah, I mean, one, one way to put it is, I mean, reviews are, you know, a very binary thing, or, you know, very measurable thing. He did a good job or a bad job. And lots of times, that comes down to, you know, one star or five star somewhere in between, right? That measurement tool is really, you know, it just is what it is, if you develop a process and an experience that makes somebody want to go save this person did a great job, whether that starts at the sales process, right? Like, that’s a little bit what we do at Groundwork, like how did that person handle the lead? And like, keep me informed? And were they on time? How do they listen to me, you know, what’s that process look like, goes into the sales, you know, like the in-person, quotation and, you know, communication side of things and goes into delivery. How you produce the work, that all ties into that and you’re creating it, you want to create a story for your customer, you want to give them an opportunity to sit back at their neighborhood get together and say, you know what, yeah, these trees, let me tell you about this tree project. Like, it was awesome. These guys came in, they knocked it out, they cleaned up after themselves. I got a text after they were done. And they asked me to put a, you know, a review online. And you know what, I did it because they did a great job. That is, and then they then that homeowner is reaffirming to themselves that you are a good contractor. So that not only helps them be willing to come back to you. But that reverberates that outer circle of friends and family as well.

Ari: Yeah, no, that was a simple but fantastic thing. Reviews are an unbelievable insight. Are you giving an exceptional experience, if they are having an exceptional experience, we know it’s not easy for people to go out and get positive reviews, people are happy to go get negative reviews online. It’s just the way of the world today. So they must be moved to do so. It’s a great indicator. I love that as a way to know and confirm that you’re doing things right, rr if not, hey, what am I not doing that I should need to improve on to improve this area? So that’s a fantastic indicator. But like, specifically, what do you do? Or, you know, how do you ensure an experience will be pleasant? Are there certain key things or certainly tricks or tools? You could uh, you know, advise people on that would be, you know, filling that? Yeah, keeping it pleasant all the time.

Jeff: So I’m going to give a fairly general answer, and we’ll see if I come off, come up with a more specific thing off the cuff here. But, uh, there are very few companies that provide a wow experience. And when you look at the companies that provide that wow experience, it’s usually a very little thing that provides that. At Chik-Fil-A, it’s the general politeness of the people who take your order. And what are they? What do they say? If you say thank you?

Ari: I don’t go to Chick-fil-A often, but I’m sure my office here would be able to tell you here in Atlanta. They know Chik-Fil-A well

Jeff: Yeah. When you say thank you, 99.9% of the time they  correspond with “My pleasure.” And so that sets an experience up, that it is my pleasure to be serving you today. And it’s a small little thing. But those things start to stack up. So I think the challenge for business owners is to find your little opportunity to turn somebody’s head to make their eyebrows raise and to say, Oh, wow, that was a little different. And it doesn’t it the truth is that it does not take much. But you got to find those moments where there’s a lack of information or where there’s a little bit of pain for that. For that end user in Chik-Fil-A in this instance, it had been waiting in line for 40 minutes. But actually, you know, when talking about Chik-Fil-A, they get you through the line, right? 

Ari: I see that as well. So my experience is very different than anywhere else that I do know for the folks that do go there often. That’s right. Well, not so much the chickens not that much better. 

Jeff: But there are simple ways to do that in the contracting world. One is just thinking about it, everybody’s got a phone, whether it’s a landline, you know, whether you’re old school, you got a landline, or you got a cell phone. Do a three-day check-in. “Hey, we finished your project last week. Do you have any feedback for us?” Small thing. Probably takes five minutes, you’re gonna get some quick feedback, you know, assign somebody to do that every week, you know, block an hour or two off on their schedule. Huge, huge value. 

Ari: So that personalization of it, humanization that I’m reading it correctly. That’s right relationship building.

Jeff: That’s right. And it’s just, it’s just a small thing. Anybody can do it, you know, have three questions that you want to ask and say, if you have five minutes, I’m going to, I’m going to ask you these three questions. And I don’t want anything else from you just want to get some feedback and see how we can do better. And, you know, check-in make sure we did a good job. And if anything we fixed. That’s a small, small, small, thing. 

Ari: These things go a long way. We just had an experience personally, which had some junk removal, done for our home. And I know my wife was so blown away, when she received literally a day and a half, two days after our project was done in the mail, a handwritten card, “hey, I really appreciate your business, let us know if we can help you again in the future.” It spoke to her. So like these little things, like you’re saying, I mean, they really do go a long way, I guarantee you the next time she needs to have junk removal, or someone asked about it. That’s who she’s gonna recommend. You know, so it does go a long way. I’ve seen it firsthand and the smile on her face and just how blown away she was. Because it was the first time she’s had a service professional, come and do something in the house, and this stood out to her. So I think it’s right there in line with the kind of stuff you’re saying. Personalize it, really make that extra step that other people are not doing to as you call it, wow. You know, and do something different. That’s awesome. So I know, we talked about customer experience, and I know that ties directly to retention, I mean, they are they go hand in hand, and having a great experience. The retention doesn’t become a conversation. They’re just happy clients. So you know, just some things to avoid, though, when doing these things to try, you know, when you’re trying to retain a client, if you have any, you know, anything that guy because I know in being in business and being in a service business, retention can get into a whole different animal sometimes, but towards home improvements. Are there things that you would avoid, you know, pitfalls?

Jeff: Yeah, I think you have to know a lot of business strategy of like, how you want to be perceived, you know, if you’re, if you’re a premium brand, you know, discounting is probably not the right thing to do. You know, if you’re a little bit of like that, hey, we give you a solid service and a solid price. Like, maybe you can do some, you know, discounting or provide some promotional type of stuff. It really goes into what message are you trying to send in, and I think that kind of customer strategy should guide what you should and shouldn’t do. Because the truth is a lot of contractors, you know, there’s a wide range of different types of contractors with different types of goals and business strategies. And I think you just want to make sure that your customer attention, customer experience strategy, lines up with the way that you want to run your business, I think, when you get into a discounting strategy, as an example, that can be seen as something to take advantage of, right. So that can get in a little bit of a sticky type of thing. You got to know how to manage that and how it reflects your brand and your strategy.

Ari: That seems to be the key here, is making sure things align with your brand’s because obviously if you’re doing promotional emails, you don’t want to send out promotions like you’re sharing the discount thing. If you are a high-end contractor, you know, it’s not going to jive with the message you’re trying to get across in general, that makes a lot of sense. You want to keep your branding, completely aligned in everything you’re doing. Continue to give whatever your company mission is through those channels in every way possible. And then, by nature, you avoid the pitfalls, like you’re saying, for attention. We’re not countering who we are. So yep, awesome. And as I say, I know it’s a tough subject, especially client retention, the experience. We use the term wow experience and I remember Zappos, that was how they branded things, you know, providing a wow experience. And so many people tried to do it, but unsuccessfully. So you know, at the end of the day, a lot of things are suggesting they’re simple. They’re not complicated things. These are real tangible things that anyone can do. And it’s not stuff that even costs a lot of time or money. I mean, they just need some attention, and some thoughts. And that’s sounding like, from what you’re sharing is the real way to pull one key ingredient out of all this and put it into a nutshell. I mean, that’s really what it sounds like is keep delivering your mission, at the end of the day, and if that mission is a good one, people are gonna continue to want to work with you and refer you to other people as well. 

Jeff: So yeah, I mean, obviously, you got to do the blocking and tackling and all that stuff. But if you if you’re aligned, and take a little moment and think about the way that you can up the experience, and get people are excited about what you’re going to do, or what you have done for them, you know, that just reverberates through all sales and marketing activities.

Ari: Absolutely. Well, thanks, Jeff, I really, really appreciate you taking the time to do this with me. And it’s always a pleasure, especially people that I like to know. So thank you very much for joining me here and being a willing participant, and sharing all this knowledge and information with other folks. It’s really a pleasure. So thank you very much. 

Also, just want to thank our listeners as well. So want to thank you guys for listening to The X Factor: A Home Pro Sales Podcast. I do hope that it brings you value and helps you take your sales game and in this case, the customer retention game to the next level. Be sure to subscribe so you can catch that next episode. And your action items as the listener are wherever you’re listening to this right now. Hit that subscribe button so you can catch the next episode. You can follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn @conXpros you didn’t catch that, check out our description for all of our social media links. If you have questions, shoot us an email at That’s Thank you again. Have a great day.


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