The economy has certainly changed in the last year, and it doesn't look like it's going to improve in time for the 2009 season. Customers have changed, too.
Internet industry research has shown that 72.5% of Americans use the Internet and the average person searching for a service provider or product on the Internet can be influenced up to 83% by the comments of other users or buyers.
That's why the NPCA has started the Customer Satisfaction Assurance Program. Beginning in January all NPCA members will be required to inform every customer, upon completion of every job of the satisfaction program website ( http://www.PavementPro.info). The site contains a simple customer satisfaction survey covering the things that matter to most people. That data will be collected and displayed, allowing users to see that contractor's overall satisfaction rating with a link to see comments from other customers.
By December 1, 2008 the NPCA had already had the best year in our eight year history in the number of customer searches/referrals to members before even starting our ninth year. As of December 1 we were less than 100 people shy of 150,000 unique visitors for 2008. Those visitors resulted in over 7,980 searches/referrals (though we have no way of knowing how many of those people chose an NPCA member to do the work.)
This customer feedback program will allow us to see how many people are using contractors they find through NPCA, and help track the overall satisfaction level of our members' customers. It should also greatly increase the number of people who search NPCA to go on and choose an NPCA member contractor. That's because research has shown that as long as customer opinion is 80% approval or better, a person searching on the Internet is 83% more likely to choose that provider.
Customers are going to be hard to come by in 2009, and research has shown that the people who are spending money in times of an economic downturn are much more concerned about quality/value/guarantee/service and other such intangibles than they are in the "good times."
And while details are still being worked out, NPCA is developing "Seals of Satisfaction" that member contractors can actually apply to the pavement, indicating the job was done by an NPCA contractor (for an additional charge the contractor can have his name and address added to the seal). This will give NPCA members a "one-two punch" for customer satisfaction. It won't take long for people to start wondering what those seals are that they're seeing on different pavements and then going to the source. No other organization has ever offered a "Satisfaction Seal" for contractors to "sign" their work with.
2009 looks to be the year of the NPCA contractor, and it's something that you don't want to be left out of. See us at National Pavement Expo, Feb. 18-21 in Charlotte, NC, or visit www.PavementPro.com.