22 ideas to improve customer service: WOOD 100 Strategies for Succcess
Today's wood products manufacturers must work faster, harder, and smarter than their competitors while providing service, quality and added-value to the wood products. What follows are some of the methods put in place by the 2019 WOOD 100 class, which includes cabinet manufacturers, residential and office furniture producers, architectural woodworkers, wood component manufacturers, closet companies and more.
Now in its 30th year, the WOOD 100: Strategies for Success highlights the innovative as well as tried-and-true initiatives put in place by 100 North American wood products manufacturers to grow their businesses. Here's what some of them had to share for customer service strategies:
Mystic Scenic Studios Inc., Norwood, MA — There’s no such thing as a “standard” job for this custom fabricator of commercial interiors, restaurants, retail, broadcast TV sets, museums, trade show and corporate theater, and theatrical scenery.
“Nothing happens without first having a great crew, which has been a focus, coupled with looking for opportunities to maximize productivity via improving our CNC manufacturing capabilities,” said Jim Fitzgerald, CEO. “We deliver high-quality products on time, every time, so everyone has to keep their eyes on servicing our clients as best we can. Lastly, being selective about which clients we work with has been a big factor in driving sales.”
Sales grew 17.7%, as the company invested in finishing, panel processing and solid wood machinery, including: an edgebander, additional CNC routers, SawStop saws and an additional shaper.
Panel Processing Inc., Alpena, MI — Custom flat panel fabrication has been Panel Processing’s specialty for more than 45 years. The company serves a variety of markets with its fabrication abilities, “and the list continues to grow as we expand our experience and capabilities,” said Stacy LaFleche, national marketing manager.
The company’s success, she said, “has been a combined effort of our customer service department pushing themselves along with our engineering and manufacturing departments working together to increase efficiency and effectiveness.”
Panel Processing recently added a TFL line at its Oregon facility to facilitate service and delivery to West Coast customers. “Additionally it provided us an opportunity to introduce a new product line for 2019,” LaFleche added.
Yoder Lumber Co., Millersburg, OH — Yoder Lumber is a third-generation family-owned manufacturer of quality Appalachian hardwood products. The company has three modern sawmills, extensive drying operations, an automated grading/sorting line, and the capabilities to produce a wide range of components, said Jack Morton, sales & marketing manager.
“Yoder Lumber’s attention to detail is unmatched. We always put our customers first and go above and beyond to ensure we exceed their expectations,” he said.
In addition to offering customized S4S, mouldings and dimensional hardwood furniture components, Yoder excels in producing custom architectural wood solutions for retail and restaurant environments. The company also offers live edge slabs for purchase.
Woodgrain, Fruitland, ID — A fully integrated wood home building materials company, Woodgrain has three sawmills that feed into the core of the business: millwork, wood doors and wood windows, with locations throughout the United States and Chile.
“We are a vertically integrated company which allows us to control quality and customers’ expectations,” said Tanner Dame, marketing manager.
“We have focused on getting closer to the customer, looking for ways to offer help and support without being asked for it in advance. We want to be a resource that they can rely upon,” he added.
Along with mill acquisitions last year, “This year we acquired a small trucking company which had three tracks and trails,” Dane noted. “Along with that, we acquired a silo to collect sawdust at our Fruitland facility.”
More service specialists
Keystone Wood Specialties, Lancaster, PA
The cabinet components manufacturer has unveiled Instant Pricing, which enables cabinetmakers, remodelers and contractors, to submit a quote request or an order and receive pricing in less than 30 seconds, “any day, anytime, anywhere.” The pricing is created through a webOE system accessed on Keystone’s main website.
Atelier Boisteck Inc., Montreal, QC
Sales for the manufacturer of cabinetry, architectural millwork and other custom woodworking projects grew 6.0% and look to be even better in 2019 and 2020, said Jean-Francois Asselin, president. Crediting the company’s customer service, Asselin said, “I’m always available for my customers.” The recent addition of an edgebander and dust control system will aid productivity.
Duval Fixtures Inc., Jacksonville, FL
Owner Corey Dawson credits the company’s customer service, along with a concerted sales effort, for helping spur the custom commercial cabinet and architectural millwork producer’s sales growth of 17.7%. Projections for 2019 and 2020 sales are also “excellent” for the company. Aiding production is a new CNC router.
Miller Cabinetry & Furniture LLC, Grabill, IN
Providing quality woodworking at an affordable price sounds like a simple strategy, but it’s been a successful one for the custom kitchen and bath cabinetry and furniture producer, said Stephen Miller, owner. Sales grew 4.4% in 2018, and projections for 2019 are excellent, with 2020 expectations also good. Recent equipment purchases include a Timesavers sander.
St. Croix Valley Hardwoods, Inc., Luck, WI
Excellent customer service, including “the ability to assist customers with outdated materials,” and fast, on-time delivery services have helped the hardwood components maker grow sales 14.6%, said Julie Erickson, operations manager. The move to a new, state-of-the-art building, plus the purchase of a Leadermac moulder and drawer box assembly equipment, will also aid efforts for the maker of dovetailed drawers, mouldings, edge-glued panels.
Bubugao Stairfloor Manufacture, Scarborough, ON
Soubiao Hu attributes the company’s ability to provide quality products, online ordering, and good customer service with helping the custom stair and flooring manufacturer’s sales grow 37.5%.
Chic Carpentry Co., Richmond Hill (Toronto), ON
The custom cabinet manufacturer “doesn’t produce a crazy amount of cabinets yearly like other cabinet shops, but we try our best to make our cabinets as unique as possible, because our clients are unique,” said Alex Khosravian, owner. He credits the 48.9% sales growth to “being honest with clients, having the best customer service (based on clients’ feedback), and being responsible.”
Continental Woodcraft, Worcester. MA
Sales grew 16.7% for the architectural millwork and caseworks firm, due in part to being proactive, having good quality control and excellent customer service, said Glen Martin, vice president. The company also invested in a CNC panel saw to improve productivity.
Kitchens and Closets by DEA, Gilbert, AZ
Owner Eric Marshall credits “hard work and long hours getting our customers happy,” with helping the closet and home organization firm grow sales 74.9% in 2018. DEA provides products for the master bedroom, kids playroom, pantry, garage, laundry and other areas the home. It also designs and installs Murphy bed systems.
True Cut Cabinetry, Vaughan, ON
“We do our best to stick to our word, as simple as it may sound,” said John Fiore, project manager. “Whether is be with lead times or pricing, nobody likes to be hit with delays or increased costs. We take pride in being able to complete a job within the timeframe and price that we quote at the start of the project.” He added, “We also try not to specialize in only kitchens, or only retail stores. Broadening our scope of work leads to less slow periods throughout the year.”
Twin Oaks Cabinets, Neosho, MO
Good customer service is critical to success, and “Making the customer feel like #1,” is one of the strategies Doug Addy, administration director, said is used by the custom residential cabinetry and light commercial cabinets producer. “We also say and live by ‘Cabinetry crafted to become your family’s fondest memories.’” The firm also invested in case clamps, shapers and sanders to improve productivity.
Bernie’s Furniture & Cabinetry, Madison Heights, VA
The custom furniture and cabinetry firm’s sales grew 18.7%, and look to be even better in 2019 and 2020. “We’re custom building to their satisfaction,” said Bernard Campbell, principal. He adds that when customers say they can buy factory-built products cheaper, “I would realize they were not shopping for quality.”
Premium Woods LLC, Lincoln, NE
Sales for the laminate and wood caseworks manufacturer grew 7.7% in 2018, and President Bob Long expects 2019 and 2020 will be even better. The company credits its customer service, “creating systems and following them,” with helping spur sales. Aiding productivity in the shop are the purchases of a Gannomat case clamp, and a drawer box clamp.
Randy’s Cabinets and Woodworks, Grand Rapids, MN
Owner Randy Niewind credits great customer service, “and we will always go above and beyond,” with helping the cabinet firm’s sales grow 3.1%, with greater sales expected in 2019 and 2020. Aiding the effort are the recent purchases of a paint booth, automatic fences and CNC equipment.
The 2019 WOOD 100 is sponsored by Pollmeier Inc.
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