“When choosing an ICF system, like most other building materials, price alone should not be the deciding factor,” comments Hubert Max Kustermann, CEO of Quad-Lock Building Systems, Ltd.. “This is especially true in the ICF industry. Of course, it is important to get the lowest price possible for the agreed upon product. But customer service creates the value.”
Customer service should begin with the first contact and continue through to the project’s completion. This includes timely, accurate estimates; engineering assistance; pre-construction meetings; on-time, complete shipments; technical support; and local inventory, representation and training.
“Builders who realize the importance of value-added services along with product price, do not have to worry about material being delivered to their jobsite without any support or training,” states Wendy Davidoff, marketing Manager for Quad-Lock. “Something we see happening a lot, especially now in a tighter market, is what we call ‘dump-and-run’.”
Dump-and-run is when contractors order product and it is delivered to the jobsite, but there is no training and no customer support. With an ICF system, manufacturers should not leave new-to-ICF builders to try and install it on their own.
“We regularly get telephone calls from contractors who are building with a competitor’s product but have questions to which they need answers, such as how to secure something or handle a certain corner activity. So, we help them,” says Douglas Bennion, Technical and Training Manager of Quad-Lock.
Builders need to consider the ongoing partnership – someone to help with technical support, training and on-site assistance. Local representatives must be equipped to answer questions, prepare detailed estimates and provide inventory. The ICF manufacturer’s headquarters should complement its field offices with engineering and training support.
Without training, support and local inventory, a project can become very time-consuming and costly. Builders should deal with an ICF provider who offers these services, in addition to the actual building system.
“During my 25 years in the construction business, I’ve seen a lot of companies come and go,” Bennion says. “The successful ones are those that offer a fair price for their services and have a quality product. The ones that try to sell on low price alone usually fall by the wayside.”
“Anyone can eventually figure out a building system, but the longer it takes the more it costs you in labor, wasted material and mistakes,” Davidoff remarks. “And, time is money.”
Bennion adds, “You should always strive to get the highest quality ICF system along with exceptional service at a fair price. Whether it is prompt return of phone calls, on-time shipments or technical support.”