By Jerri Stroud, BBB Editor
Nick Allen picked probably one of the worst times to start a construction business – 2006, the height of the housing bubble. For 10 years before that, the Columbia, Mo., market had been booming, and he decided to move there from St. Louis. Then, the bubble burst.
Allen says the business survived because he was just starting, and he didn’t have a lot of overhead. He focused on providing superior service to the customers he did have, paying attention to every detail.
“It made me very disciplined,” Allen said. “We were flexible, and we were able to provide high customer service levels.” That service helped the business grow when a lot of competitors were struggling.
Manor Roofing began as Manor Metal Roofs, installing a type of roof that required a lot of attention to detail. As Manor grew, it added other products, including James Hardie siding and Pella windows.
Through it all, Allen insisted on treating all parties in his business well, including vendors, employees and customers. It’s central to Manor’s mission statement. Allen says some businesses try to pressure vendors for lower prices or squeeze employees, but he says that doesn’t work.
“We have to treat three of those pieces with the same level of respect and try to work with all of them to deliver the best customer service level,” Allen said. “Fundamentally, all of our employees understand that we’re going to treat our vendors with respect, our employees with respect and the customers with respect.”
Allen has an independent inspector check every job when it’s done. He started doing that after running into some problems over and over in the early years, when he relied on foremen to police themselves. The inspector can call the crew back to fix a problem, without waiting for a customer to request it. Allen employees know their work will be checked, so they strive to do it right the first time.
Allen has set up a reward system for employees who go beyond what customers expect, something he’s dubbed a “Manorism.” “If we catch one of our employees doing a Manorism, they get a gift card reward,” he said.
Manor Roofing also is part of the Guild Quality system, which surveys about 10 customers every month seeking honest feedback on the company’s work. Allen said he relies on that feedback to improve Manor’s work.
Allen says he insists on doing a job right or not at all. Some customers call him wanting him to patch a problem area, but he won’t do that if the roof is in poor condition.
“That’s not the way we do things,” he said. “It may not be what they want to hear. We do it one way and one way only. We fix it so they don’t have the issues anymore.”
Allen believes in giving back to his community, especially through support of the arts. Manor was a sponsor of a Missouri Symphony Society performance last year. He said supporting the arts and other charities makes Columbia “a better area for our employees to live in.”
BBB prepares profiles of BBB Accredited Businesses and BBB Accredited Charities as part of its TORCH Awards process. White Dog Promotions is a winner of the 2016 Columbia TORCH Awards. To sign up for the event, click here.