Tops in customer service
Eric Doyle says he went the extra mile on purpose
Home builder Eric Doyle has been providing customized, “panelized” homes with a quick turnaround for almost four years now in Fort Dodge. This year he’s been recognized for his high customer satisfaction.
Doyle was presented with the “Voice of the Customer” award at the annual Wausau Homes Builder Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. He operates the Wausau Homes office in Fort Dodge.
“I made that a goal this year of making sure the customers were happy, and just had that in the back of my head,” Doyle said. “The main thing is just making sure you talk to those customers.”
The award is based on surveys Wausau sends to customers, Doyle said.
“So I had nothing to do with it,” he said. “I just encouraged my customers to participate in it, because if I don’t get any feedback I can’t improve on my job.”
The high score of 9.3 out of 10 shows that Doyle is doing what he is saying, and sticking to the process, he said.
According to Doyle Wausau’s process means he can provide new homeowners with a firm price, and a reliable move-in date.
With Wausau homes’ panel system, walls come in panels which can be set up much quicker than if the walls were built from scratch on-site. But Doyle said there’s a great amount of flexibility in floor plans.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had one where it’s just, ‘Here’s the plan, build it.’ We’ve always made modifications to the plan,” Doyle said. “Somebody might want a little bit deeper garage, someone might want a little bigger master bedroom, take away from the other rooms.”
It starts with a meeting between Doyle and the customer, on the four comfy chairs at Doyle’s office. Doyle said he likes to find out ahead of time if there are any pitfalls which might affect the price of the home.
Once the customers have everything designed the way they like, Doyle said he can offer a firm price, and stick to it.
“We do a lot of work up to contract signing. Then we offer the 3D video too, which is very helpful,” he said. “They can actually see what they’re getting. … I get a lot of feedback that people like that feature.
“People come in here, pick everything out, sign the contract and then it’s just like a printing press. You just press play and it goes through.”
They can also pick out cabinets, faucets, lighting and other items right there in Doyle’s office, although they could also use items from elsewhere if they choose.
“Not a lot of builders have showrooms. You can actually come and see the product … which in my eyes are good options,” he said. “Everything in here is top notch stuff. Pella Windows, Merillat cabinets.
“They’re not limited to what Wausau supplies. … So we have options. It’s not just, ‘This is what you get’ like with a modular house.”
Doyle chose to begin selling Wausau homes over other panelized companies back in 2015 because they gave him a good “customer” experience, as well.
“I contacted them, and they reached out to me right away,” he said. “They were very open to helping with business stuff. One of the things that really gravitated me to them was having a process — ‘This is how we do it.’ It’s very helpful because the first question is, what’s it cost, how long does it take, and what are all the steps in between? With this you can just map it out for them.
“So we were able to do more houses in a year with Wausau, and it helped me with the business side of things, helps me with marketing, stuff like that,” he said. “It was more than just a panelized home; it’s a good building process.”
Doyle’s parents Jean and Mike Doyle own Doyle Construction. Eric Doyle has been helping his father out with home construction since high school.
Doyle graduated from UNI with a degree in business, and went into commercial real estate.
“I was a commercial property manager for three years, just out of college. It started out as an internship,” he said. “I managed up to 1 million square feet of commercial real estate around the United States.”
Then, the Doyle Construction business was growing, and his dad called him up with a job opportunity, Eric Doyle said.
“So I started selling houses. That was in 2013,” he said. “The reason we went to Wausau was because I had a lot of leads of different houses we could be doing that I couldn’t even touch. So there was an untapped customer base out there that I couldn’t harness because we were stick building and it took too long.”
Last year Doyle did about four homes in 12 months, but another one was purchased and set to go up in the current year.
“Around here we are building a lot of ranch style houses,” he said. “I haven’t done many two stories. So people really like the ranch, with the zero entry, where the garage is at the same level as the house, so it’s a smooth entry into the house.”
Walk-out areas and decks are also very popular, he said.
“White is in. White kitchens, white woodwork.”
What’s his secret for keeping the customers happy enough to give him high marks on the survey?
“Definitely just the day to day items. Like you make sure you’re true to your word,” he said. “You’re always picking up their phone calls, answering their questions. Always call them back. Go above and beyond every day.
“The main thing with us is, I make sure the customer experiences are good. I want them to enjoy building a house, and not dread it.”