Adapting to Customer’s Needs

Evan Fujimoto, president, Graham Builders

September, 2011

Fifteen years ago, the founder ofGraham Builders, Danny Graham, noticed a lot of his customers were confused by home remodeling and construction projects, so he provided free seminars. Evan Fujimoto, now the company’s president, says theBuild Your Home for Life seminarshelped the company to better identify and adapt to customers’ needs.

HB: How do the seminars work?

Fujimoto: We explain the process of building and the steps homeowners must take to protect their investments. We learned that it takes subtle changes: designing the right home for the person, not for the area in which we are building. Our first seminar was attended by less than 20 people and, since then, over 5,000 Hawaii homeowners have attended.

HB: How do you adapt when every customer is different?

Fujimoto: We identify what works and makes sense for our customers as individuals, whether they enjoy outdoor living or simply growing their own vegetables. Identifying certain aspects of their lifestyle, we can build to incorporate features that reflect their needs and way of living.

What works is listening to our customers, making every effort to understand what they really mean, and asking questions to confirm what they want before forging ahead. It saves us and our customers from misunderstandings and unfulfilled expectations.

HB: How has that changed your business?

Fujimoto: One common mistake we’ve identified from our own experience is reacting too quickly to customers’ requests without clearly understanding their motivations or objectives. It’s really important to take a step back and delve deeper into what a customer is really asking for:

• Ask why. 
• What is the end result they are trying to achieve? 
• Is there a better/simpler/less-costly alternative they would consider? 
• Do they really know what they’re asking for?
• Are they certain it will solve their problems and make them happy?

Before moving forward with any changes, ask each customer to identify his or her main priority. You could give them nine things out of 10 on their wish lists and miss the one thing they really want and disappoint them.


Graham Builders

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