Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed
When it comes to remodeling, the best marketing tool is often a glowing testimonial from a satisfied customer.
Judging by the letters and emails they send regularly, customers of Murakami’s Roofing Service think very highly of the company’s product and work ethic.
“Every time it rains,” wrote one customer, nine months after the completion of his roofing project, “I am reminded that I wanted to write you, but I’m sure you know how things go and the days just start passing by … The good thing about being tardy is that it gives this letter even more credence due to the passage of time.
I really appreciate your responsiveness, the quality, the price, and above all, your follow-through.”
Founded in 1976 by the late Clifford Murakami, the company specializes in residential roofing, termite, leak and storm damage repairs, and reflective energy-efficient roof coatings. “Our market is residential and mid-level. Not upscale houses with rare and ultra-pricy roofing materials, but average, middle-class homes,” explained Clinton Murakami, the founder’s oldest son, who now owns the business.
Careful growth and a thorough knowledge of his targeted market have served Murakami well. To ensure consistent quality, he’s selective about the jobs he bids. “(When I look at a project) I ask myself, ‘Can we do a good job for this person? Can I walk away at the end of the day, confident that I’m going to serve them well?'” he said. “If I can’t, I’d just rather not do it.”
In a shaky economy, turning away customers might seem counterintuitive, but Murakami says business is booming. Between roofing jobs and his small heavy equipment rental sideline, his team of a dozen men stays busy. The rental sideline makes machines like mini-excavators and earth-moving equipment available to contractors and homeowners who need smaller machines for jobs on Hawaii’s smaller lots. Murakami is delighted by his latest purchase, a miniature JCB backhoe-loader.
“Imagine if somebody took a shrinking ray and shrunk a backhoe down to the size of a Toyota sedan!” he said. “You can dig a trench with the backhoe, and there’s a big scooper bucket on the front end. Because it’s so little, you can actually maneuver it around small residential properties.”
An embrace of technology has also helped this small company thrive. The foremen and drivers on Murakami’s team carry SmartPhones to help with estimates and scheduling; they use the phones to capture photos and videos that illustrate potential problems. His crew now installs 100 percent synthetic felt paper under shingles, instead of old-school tarpaper. “It’s 10 times lighter and 10 times stronger,” he says. “A lot of roofers don’t use it because of the cost, but it’s better quality for our customers, and safer for my men because it’s lighter.”
The late Joseph Cyril Bamford, founder of the company that manufactured Murakami’s awesome new backhoe, had a well-known business principle: “Focus on what you do best, be innovative, and re-invest in product development and the latest manufacturing technologies.”
It’s a philosophy that Clint Murakami would likely admire.