Benjamin Franklin Plumbing was recognized at the third annual Consumer Choice Awards gala in Dallas, TX this month. Keresa Richardson, president of the residential plumbing company, accepted the award for water heater sales. It is the company’s unique approach to service, well-equipped trucks and use of technology, however, which makes the fleet a bellwether for service fleets of all types.
“If we don’t arrive on time we pay our customers $5.00 for every minute we are late,” saidRichardson. “With our company, the consumer cannot lose. We have a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.” The plumbers arrive (on time) in what Richardson calls, “our super trucks,” Mitsubishi and Isuzu cabovers equipped with the latest vehicle and plumbing technology, including GPS for the trucks plus video cameras that see insidethe pipes to detect problems, electronic leak detection and jet cleaning equipment for sewer and drain lines to help deal with plumbing problems.
Back at the call center, a new VoIP (Voice Over IP) system from TeleVantage Online has streamlined communications and reduced costs, according to Richardson. “All the calls come in here,” she said, “but everybody in every location can see them and we can “drag and drop” calls to the appropriate person. Everyone has an extension on the system and you can have it automatically forward your calls to you at up to five different numbers.
“The system also automatically records all in-coming and out-going calls, so if there is ever a question about what was said, we can verify it,” she added. “That is important in a service business. We are big believers in technology; you have to be in order to be efficient.”
The plumbers themselves also adhere to a strict code of ethics and have a customer “Bill of Rights.” They undergo extensive personality profiling by Nielson and Associates, drug testing and background checks. A professional image is also required and reinforced Richardson noted.
The Consumers’ Choice Award is an initiative of the Consumers’ Choice Institute, which retains a leading independent research firm to conduct surveys in major Canadian and U.S. cities. The winners are determined by consumers and not by a panel of judges. Its purpose is to publicly identify those establishments that have been voted by consumers as being their choice for excellence.
The first Benjamin Franklin location operated by the Richardsons opened in 2000. There are now seven locations serving the Dallas Metroplex and over two hundred Benjamin Franklin franchises nationwide.