Photo by Scott Cornell
Peter Buttenwieser, franchise owner of CertaPro Painters in Jefferson Valley, stands alongside one of the business trucks at Buttenwieser’s office on East Main Street in Jefferson Valley. Buttenwieser prides his business on a heightened level of customer service.
By Scott Cornell
YORKTOWN – During his time as a home improvement contractor, Peter Buttenwieser has heard too many horror stories from customers complaining of a bad experience, whether they were about cost, timeliness or an overall poor attitude.
As franchise owner of CertaPro Painters in Jefferson Valley, Buttenwieser has implemented a few simple yet creative business practices to ensure the satisfaction of his customers comes before all else.
“Most homeowners have a deep affinity for their homes, so as much as I’d like to say I’m in the house-painting business, I’m also in the customer service business,” Buttenwieser said. “The big thrust of our business is to change the perception of the home improvement experience where we’re able to be price-competitive but offer something no one else does.
“The bar is set low, but I like to think we’re jumping over it with plenty of clearance. The good news for our customers is there’s no additional charge to have a good customer service program.”
Some of Buttenwieser’s techniques seem very simple: Calling a customer on the first day of the job to ensure things are running smoothly or arriving 10 minutes early to that job are simple things that can go a long way, Buttenwieser said.
Customers have their questions answered on the first phone call rather than waiting for a callback; they see CertaPro employees arriving at their house in a professional CertaPro truck and they grow accustomed to the same crew doing the job instead of meeting a different CertaPro employee each day, Buttenwieser said.
Aside from the small nuances that help make customers feel safe about who is working on their homes, Buttenwieser offers a number of other incentives to customers that come with hiring CertaPro Painters.
Not only does the business have a full-service carpentry division in response to the issues with rotting wood in Westchester and the high volume of requests for interior crown and baseboard moldings, but Buttenwieser also brings in a color consultant for a free review regarding what colors may look best in a person’s home.
“We’ve looked at all the restrictions that keep people from doing home improvement projects and tried to minimize many of those headaches and make the process as smooth as possible,” Buttenwieser said.
Buttenwieser’s extra efforts toward customer service have helped him receive a 99 percent referral rate among customers, he said. A strong local customer base helping to spread the word about CertaPro guided the business through a recent decline in customer spending, Buttenwieser said.
Word of mouth is especially helpful for a seasonal business like CertaPro, which does a majority of its work during the summer and is constantly checking the weather in the rainy months of April, Buttenwieser said.
CertaPro Painters, located at 135 East Main St. in Jefferson Valley, is a national franchise with 328 outlets across the country. Each business is individually owned and operated. Buttenwieser covers northern Westchester County, southern Connecticut and parts of New York City.
A Manhattan resident, Buttenwieser has operated his business out of Jefferson Valley for the past five years. After considering painting his own house in 2003, Buttenwieser changed his mind, hired CertaPro and fell in love with the franchise’s business methods.
“My background is in advertising and marketing and I understood what I could do to take this business to the next level,” Buttenwieser said. “CertaPro gives you the base and allows you the opportunity to expand on that, so I got an understanding of the painting marketplace and tried to upgrade the level of how we communicated to people.”
CertaPro in Jefferson Valley maintains a two-year warranty on all its work and adheres to the licensing standards of Westchester and Putnam counties and Connecticut. The business also provides computerized free-estimates, from how many gallons of paint are needed to how long the project will take.
“This allows us to be very accurate and confident in our pricing, and allows for a good level of coordination for the people involved in the project,” Buttenwieser said. “From a customer standpoint, it’s great because we can line item a lot of things, and I can tell you pretty confidently how I am going to paint the outside of your house.”
The bottom line as a home improvement contractor is to align the customers’ needs and expectations within their budget, Buttenwieser said.
It is not a matter of cutting corners or compromising the way CertaPro feels a job should be done, but preparing the job to cater to each customer.
More information regarding CertaPro Painters can be found online at www.certapro.com. The Jefferson Valley shop can be reached at (914) 245-2260.