Client Feedback Tool
  • What’s it like to shop at your store?

    Posted on January 7th, 2014 Sally Orcutt No comments
    What’s it like to shop at your store?

    Our thanks to David Stone (Stone & Company) for agreeing to be our guest today and allow us to share this post. If you haven’t already heard of David, he is the founder and President of Stone and Company. He has been working in the design and construction industry since 1974. He has owned his own architectural design firm and has written books on marketing, business development, and project management.

    I had heard of Ukrop’s before reading David’s post. During my time at an ENR 500 engineering firm, one of our firm leaders asked staff to share any exceptional customer experience stories they could remember. One team member had come from Virginia and had shopped at Ukrop’s. She shared stories very similar to the ones David shares. As a firm, we sought to put our clients first. Ukrop’s served as an inspirational model for our firm on how attitude really could and would drive client loyalty. To read more from David, visit his Blog.

    What’s it like to shop at your store? (posted January 7, 2014)

    There used to be a grocery store chain in Virginia called Ukrop’s. They were in business for more than 70 years until, a few years back, the owners took their well-deserved rewards in a buy-out. While they were operating, they had an almost mythical reputation for customer service.

    I never got to shop there myself, but over the years I’ve met many people who did and they invariably had their own, personal service stories to tell:

    I stopped in around dinnertime, having just picked up my 18-month-old from daycare. She’d neither eaten nor had a recent diaper change and was wailing up a storm. I pushed my cart into one aisle and saw an employee – probably late teens – stacking shelves. When he heard the screaming baby, he dropped the soup cans and ran out of the aisle. But not 20 seconds later, he was back. He’d run to the bakery department, grabbed a cookie and asked if it might help her feel better!

    I was in search of chopped walnuts for my annual Christmas baking spree. The shelf was empty and the grocery manager confirmed they were out of stock. But then he said, “Carry on with your shopping. I’ll take care of this.” I then watched as he went to the front of the store, nabbed one of the employees bagging groceries, handed him a $10 bill and told him to run across the street (to a competitor’s store!) and buy a bag of walnuts. By the time I was in the checkout line, the young man was back, handed me the bag of nuts with a smile and wished me a Merry Christmas!

    Before we moved to Dallas, we lived in Virginia and always shopped there. About six months after the move (when the Postal Service stopped forwarding their advertising flyers) I received a personal note from the President. The note said how it had come to his attention that we’d left the Richmond area; how he wanted to thank us for our patronage during the years we’d lived there; how he wished us the best of luck in our new home in Texas and how, if we ever returned to Virginia, he’d love to welcome us back to Ukrop’s.


    There are some interesting take-aways here. First, everyone I met was an enthusiastic, unpaid member of the store’s marketing department. They loved to tell their stories and recruit new customers. Second, they all agreed that it was more expensive to shop there, but absolutely worth it. Finally, it doesn’t get much more commoditized than chopped walnuts. But the fantastic service was enough to break that price sensitivity.

    So, what’s it like to shop at your engineering store?

    You didn’t know you had an engineering (or architecture, or construction) store. You have customers. They come in to buy 10 pounds of engineering. And the whole time they’re evaluating what it’s like to shop at your place. What’s it like to phone in to your office? What’s it like to have one of your Project Managers run a meeting? What is the ‘customer experience’ like at your firm?

    Every retail operator in the world today is talking about customer experience and trying to make it better. At the start of this New Year, why not make it a point to ask some of your customers about their experience. And then do something to make it better.

    You’ve got a lot of competitors and they all sell the same chopped nuts that you do. What’s it like to shop at your store?


  • Firm Metrics + Client Metrics = Success

    Posted on January 7th, 2014 Ryan Suydam No comments
    Firm Metrics + Client Metrics=Success

    As the New Year begins, most businesses, including ours, look for ways to drive even greater success than last year. We’ve all heard Peter Drucker’s quote, “what’s measured improves,” so most of us measure financial metrics regularly to try and drive success. Are we on track to achieve our goals? Is a course correction needed? And if so, what do we need to change?

    If your firm is only measuring financial metrics, are you measuring all the metrics needed to create the success you want to achieve?  If what you measure, improves, what else could you (should you) measure? What else do you want to improve in 2014?

    Take a moment and think about that question.

    So what should you measure?financial growth

    If you are like most A&E firms, you evaluate project performance based largely on the efficiency with which the project is completed. Did your team complete the scope of work in the contract and meet the desired profit targets? Did the team provide the client with expected deliverables — without doing a lot of re-work or free work? Did they match deliverables to the contract and avoid scope creep?

    Measuring project efficiency is essential to success. So is having a streamlined process to completing similar projects. If your teams started from scratch every time they began a project without using what they had learned from previous, similar projects, there is no way they could achieve target profits. Talk about re-inventing the wheel!

    Here’s another question to consider. Does measuring efficiency proactively prevent profit killers like re-work or scope creep? Or is it a reactive measure?

    There is a certain logic to the idea that if each of your teams follows the project delivery process identified for a particular type of project, the outcome would be the same. Each client would receive ‘correct’ deliverables based on the scope outlined in the contract. So why doesn’t it seem to work out that way?

    For nearly ten years we have been working with clients in the A&E industry. We have heard hundreds of stories about projects that should have been successful but weren’t. They had everything. Good staff. Good client. Good process. And yet, the results were often not what they expected.

    No matter how great the project circumstances may be, each client is different, the same client will change over time, and the criteria for success keeps moving.

    Client Feedback Tool focuses on helping our clients achieve the long-term success they desire by measuring all the metrics important to project performance. As the title suggests, this includes measuring both financial metrics and client metrics. Client metrics measure how well your process is meeting your client’s expectations at each stage of the project. If your team is not asking whether their client’s expectations are being met, they are making three dangerous assumptions:

    • Their existing project delivery process will meet the expectations of a new client (or a new project manager for an existing client).
    • There are no external factors that might influence the expectations of a project manager they have worked with before on ‘this project’.
    • You and the client have the same understanding of project communication, deliverables, etc.

    When your firm uses real-time, project-based feedback, you give your clients the opportunity to share their changing preferences and priorities with you throughout the project. You eliminate the assumptions that can result in poor project performance and unmet expectations. You strengthen your relationships with your clients as they realize that you really care about their goals. And, because the feedback you request is designed to benefit your client, you also give them the ability to help you help them achieve the success they desire.

    And the benefit to your firm? You establish a reputation as experts. Elite players. Premium brand. This expert status has powerful financial impact. In addition to reducing or eliminating re-work and scope creep, you become the ‘go to’ firm for each of your clients, who then provide you with a steady stream of profitable work.

    As 2014 gets underway, let’s challenge ourselves. Instead of measuring the same things you have in the past and expecting different results, take the strategic step of tracking the metrics that matter. If what is measured improves, are you measuring the metrics needed to create the success you desire? Request a Live Demo to learn more about measuring client metrics to create firm success or give us a call at 866.433.7322.