We all talk about customer service and being customer-centric, but few of us really live up to that standard quite like Pioneer Log Homes, also known as HGTV’s Timber Kings. If you have ever watched the show, you know what I am talking about. These guys are not only absolutely amazing craftsman and engineers, they are some of the best at being customer-centric. So, want to learn how to be really customer-centric like HGTV’s Timber Kings? Here’s what I learned from an interview with the founder, Bryan Reid Senior:
1. Passion is Innate
This is not lip service. You learn very quickly that Bryan, does what he loves. When asked how he got into the business, it is obvious that it is something that “just happened.” When it just feels right, I guess you know it.
“My step dad was a trapper and I worked with him a lot. At the end of the day, with temperatures dropping to -40 to –50 degrees in the winter, we would get to the old trapper log cabin and light a fire and half hour later, we had no more worries. There was just something about being in a log cabin. After I finished high school, I built my own log home with help of First Nations man, Samson Jack. It wasn’t long before others wanted me to build them a log home. It also didn’t take a long time for me to realize that I loved doing it and there was a need to fill.”
When I see someone with passion, it really helps me realize what a difference it makes. I couldn’t help thinking about the times in my career when I was truly passionate. Like Bryan, it was something that just felt right! It didn’t feel like work.
2. People First
I asked Bryan about his incredibly skilled craftspeople and what it is like to work with so many gifted people.
“Where would we be without people? Whether it is working with my team or working with clients, our business is about building dreams. My guys are my equal at very the least, and even my boss at times, and never critiqued for over delivering. They are praised and rewarded equal to me. In the recession of 2008, I cut my wage to zero and kept my guys on. They mean so much to me!”
When it comes to his customers, Bryan has some pretty simple but powerful advice. In fact, it is so simple, that we probably tend to forget the basics, but Bryan doesn’t and it is refreshingly honest.
“Many companies spend their entire budget on advertising, etc. and don’t take care of the customer right through to the end of the process. It was our goal to always over deliver and we wanted to. Going that extra mile and giving the customer more than they expected, sets us apart. And really, when you think of it….what a novel idea?…Give the customer value for their dollar and in return they recommend you to their friends. In fact, many of our customers are our friends. This is a very, very basic human behaviour. Treat people well and they treat you well. Some of our original customers from more than 35 years ago still call us and visit with us. For us, this is priceless.”
3. Relationships Are Forever
If passion is innate and people are first, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that for the Timber Kings (Pioneer Log Homes) team to be truly customer-centric, the relationship with the customer doesn’t end when the sale is complete.
I asked Bryan if there was a specific customer story that stood out for him over the years and here’s what he had to say:
“There are many great stories for me, but one that often comes to mind is one couple who were buffalo ranchers in the US. Over 22 years, we built three different homes for them. They are a wonderful couple whom we have become very close to. They are now in their 80s now and have decided to downsize, and they want us to build them a smaller log home! Now that’s a story.”
4. Use Your Brain
I asked Bryan what advice he would give to people just starting out. Here’s what he had to say:
“Bring your brain to work every day. If strength was everything, horses would rule the world. Watch what successful people do and try to translate that to your business. Same rules different industry. I learned a lot from how Las Vegas did things. They made the whole world aware of them – quite a feat when they are not the biggest. Finally, take care of the customer and they will take care of you.”
And, of course I had to ask if being Canadian made a difference when it comes to dealing with customers.
“As Canadians we are the luckiest people on earth. Being born in North America is like winning the lottery. We are intelligent, well educated and are entitled to work hard and get ahead if we are wise and treat people right, respect our resources, and plan ahead for the next generation. We can do well and leave the world a better place. Expect the best, plan for the worst.”
It was a real pleasure getting to know Bryan through this interview. In Part 2 and final piece of this series, we will learn more about Pioneer Log Homes through Joel Roorda, one of the master craftsman that build those stunning homes.
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