119 Years of Experience: How Graniterock Delivers Customer and Employee Satisfaction

Graniterock ConstructionIn its 119-year history Graniterock has survived earthquakes, recessions, the Great Depression and the sudden death of its CEO in 2012. The family-owned, California company provides concrete, building materials and contracting services. In 1991, they became the first and only construction company to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.  Keeping customers and employees well satisfied has always been a key measure of their success. Keith Severson, marketing communications manager for Graniterock explains how they manage to keep their edge, year after year.

Measure, Evaluate and Dive Deep

At Graniterock, customer satisfaction surveys have evolved from a lengthy printed questionnaire completed once a year to a two-question Net Promoter Score email questionnaire sent to a random sample of 500 customers each month. Net Promoter Score is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company's products or services to others. It is used to gauge the customer's overall satisfaction with a company's product or service.   

“I think it gives us a good overview,” says Severson. “We receive some meaningful comments and some actionable items that are forwarded to the sales representative and business manager of the account to take action.” The same survey is used despite the diversity of various business units.  According to Severson, Graniterock’s net promoter score hovers around 65, a measure equated with world class customer service. He says the contractor group typically scores even higher due to the long-standing relationships they have with customers.

Severson looks for trends in the data, addressing issues as they arise.  For example, they recently looked at how they could more effectively schedule ready-mix concrete deliveries by analyzing the phone tree, hold message and customer selection points, to reduce any hold times.  At one Graniterock retail location they are using in-store smiley-face feedback meter to gauge customer service.

“We found Saturdays ticked down slightly, so we got together with the customer service team and business manager to talk about what might happening,” says Severson.  “We found it was a different customer mix on Saturdays with more homeowners, so we reconfigured our customer service team to make those customers feel more at ease.”

employee communicationsRethink Your Communication Methods

Seven years ago, Graniterock went through a deep analysis of who their audiences are and how to communicate with them. There were four key groups: customers, the community, potential employees and current employees.

“We’re recruiting against the flash and dash of Google and Facebook,” says Severson. “So we made a concerted effort to put great content out in the appropriate platforms: Graniterock.com, our Rock. Paper. Scisssors. industry newsletter, RockTalk our team member newsletter and social media. “We are strategic about what we do. When someone is looking to make a career choice, we want them to have appreciation for our communities and corporate culture.”

The strategy works. The company has more than 12,000 followers on Instagram and 9,300 followers on Facebook.  Severson credits content that consistently demonstrates the company’s values, but also says, “Instagram is perfect for yellow iron and smiling faces.”  The company also has a presence on LinkedIn and Twitter. Their industry newsletter Rock.Paper.Scissors. has more than 10,000 subscribers.

Communications is rapidly evolving and changing,” says Severson. “The way we communicate now and the way we communicated with these audiences even five years ago has changed remarkably.” At one end of the spectrum you have employees with a flip phone and at the other end of the spectrum you have employees without a landline.

To reach a mobile workforce as well as employees who were challenging to reach via email, Graniterock implemented a mobile communications app, which functions like a mobile-phone based intranet where employees can find and share information. The app, which they call My RockTalk in connection with the newsletter, was so successful that it has found new uses within the company. Concrete mixer drivers have their own channel as does their main quarry. “More than half of employees have engaged with My RockTalk, which is only a year old,” says Severson.

The careers page is the third highest trafficked page on the company website. It was redesigned to include a place for craft workers to view job openings and apply.

construction corporate cultureExamine Your Company Culture and Values

Employee satisfaction is also measured by Graniterock.  It uses an outside firm to survey workers.  The latest survey led to a discussion of key issues and an examination of the company culture. “Based on the feedback, we created a culture wheel,” says Severson. “Safety before all else; a culture of caring, we walk the talk; we make it better, we collaborate as a team; we have a yes we can customer service attitude.”  These are the values upheld by Graniterock team members.

According to Severson, this corporate culture is what makes Graniterock a great place to work. “You have to lean forward and get the job done. This company allows you the opportunity to do that; and provides the tools to do that.”

“I think prospective employees try to get a sense of the values that the company has and it must represent the values they hold dear,” says Severson. “Employees just need to be appreciated. You have to be transparent, in the field and be human.”

While the Woolpert family is no longer directly involved in day-to-day operations, they still sit on the board.  “This helps maintain the family atmosphere and corporate culture,” says Severson. “That has been constant despite changes in both the market and leadership.”

construction hiringBe Relentless With Your Hiring 

Severson doesn’t aspire to the belief that Millennials have a poor work ethic. “If you select well, you can find really great young people,” he says. The company utilizes cross-functional team interviews and chemistry is one of the biggest factors in the team selection process. “Don’t hire someone just to fill a spot. It’s not going to work out for you,” he says. 

Invest in Employee Education and Training

At Graniterock, everyone gets an opportunity to grow their job. According to Severson, more than 240 employees have been through an internal leadership development program in the past year. In addition, other job-related trainings are continuously offered by the company so employees can develop their skill sets. 

Attending CONEXPO-CON/AGG has been a way for employees to learn about new construction technology. Since 2011, more than 200 Graniterock employees have attended the show.

Take a Collaborative Approach to Customer Relationships

Graniterock’s Construction Division is involved in many heavy civil infrastructure projects throughout northern and central California. Severson says contractors today need to be in for the long game. “The best way to get future jobs is to do one job successfully,” he says.  “Successful partnering today is truly collaborative and characterized by open communication.”  

In 2018, Graniterock's Highway 101 rehabilitation project in Soledad was a selected for a Caltrans' Excellence in Partnering award. Caltrans chose Graniterock's project due to the team's use of partnering best practices around safety, budget, schedule, dispute resolutions, value engineering and claims. The project management team invited local businesses to a meeting before the work started to get an understanding of business needs and establish lines of communication.

You can learn a lot about customer and employee satisfaction over 119 years, but don’t expect Graniterock to be content.  Graniterock’s processes ensure that customer and employee satisfaction are always at the forefront.

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