People Will Talk

We recently had the good fortune to hear an inspirational sermon on minding our tongues. The principal idea was that we should watch what we say and guard against hurting ourselves and others by engaging in harmful gossip, mindless vulgarity, and unwarranted vitriol. The message was that not only does this kind of speech hurt others, but it also damages the speaker in various ways. The lesson was a good one that would no doubt benefit many people. Personally, I took a few notes and even posted part of the lesson next to the computer where I receive and send emails.

The subject of that sticky note concerns a test one can employ to determine whether he should speak on a subject or listen to someone else do so. The “triple filter test” is often credited to Socrates and is usually told as a dialogue between him and one of his students. As the tale goes, an acquaintance of Socrates’ said something unflattering about Socrates to the student. The next time he saw Socrates, the student was anxious to let Socrates know what was being said about him. But Socrates stopped his student and told him he should not share what was said unless it could pass through any of three different filters.

Socrates asked if the student knew the statement to be true. The student said that he did not know, and Socrates replied, “If you do not know it to be true, why would you say it, and why should I hear it?”

He then asked if the statement was good or kind. The student answered that it was not, to which Socrates replied, “If this statement is not true and is neither good, nor kind, why would you say it, and why should I hear it?”

Finally, Socrates asked whether the statement was necessary for him to hear or whether hearing it would be useful to him. The disappointed student said it was not. Socrates asked the student, “If this statement is not true, good, kind, necessary or useful, why would you say it, and why should I hear it?” The student held his tongue and learned a valuable lesson, a lesson that remains instructive today.

The story of Socrates’ three filters resonates now because, while wisdom suggests and sermons implore us to live one way, many people still find it difficult or impossible to do so. Consequently, as they have through the ages, people will talk, and they do not always care whether what they say is true, good, kind, necessary or useful. A strong individual, like Socrates, can stay above the fray and choose to ignore and not engage in banter that cannot pass through any of the three filters. That is not as easy, or as desirable, for a business to do. Unfair public comments about any company can have a negative effect on its bottom line, on the morale of its people, and even on its ability to stay in business.

The good news is that you and your company are not merely at the mercy of those wagging tongues. There are measures builders can take to protect their company’s reputation from everything from second-hand unflattering comments to scurrilous attacks on the quality of their work and the character of their people, and everything in between.

Here are just a few such techniques that can help protect a builder’s reputation in the marketplace.

Monitor your online presence and reviews. Even if you have not set up a business profile online, people can leave comments and reviews about your company on various websites. Search your company’s name on the internet and see where people are talking about you and what they are saying. If possible, address any unfair criticism and consider giving your side of the story regarding any fair complaint. If you discover a major problem, consider retaining an online reputation consulting firm or reputation management software.

Be a positive force in the communities where you build and keep an ear to the ground. Encourage your management team and your staff to engage in public service in the communities where you build. Not only will this enhance your company’s image, but your employees will get satisfaction from helping others, and they will be able to hear any negative scuttlebutt about your company that might be circulating in the community.

Treat your employees fairly. One source for negative comments about businesses is the disgruntled employee. He knows a lot about how his employer operates, he knows what to say that will hurt his employer in the marketplace, and he has an ax to grind. Do your best to keep your employees happy and supported. If an employee is heading down a negative road, try to reel him back in so that he can continue working as part of your team. If saving him is unlikely, consider parting ways earlier rather than later and on terms that do not further antagonize him.

Do good work and keep your customers happy. There is no better advertisement than the earnest praise of a satisfied customer. Deliver what you promised, service your product, and be prompt and courteous whenever dealing with a purchaser of one of your homes, and it is unlikely your customers will be making comments that damage your reputation. Consider using satisfied customers’ comments to get a positive buzz going or to counter any negative impression that already exists about your company.

Associate with the best third-party services providers in the business who know how to treat your customers right. Anyone you recommend to your purchasers or with whom you partner in assisting your purchasers is viewed as an extension of you by your customer. Make sure the real estate agents, subcontractors, landscapers, insurance agents, and warranty companies with whom you associate understand your mission and respect your customers as much as you do. By doing so, you will enhance your reputation with your customers and in the community.

MHWC/RWC can help you enhance that reputation by providing your customers and you with the best new home warranty on the market. We have been in the home warranty business for over four decades and have issued and administered warranties on more than 3.7 million homes! All MHWC/RWC warranties provide clear performance standards that help create realistic expectations in your homeowners and provide a road map to resolving even the stickiest customer complaints. Our pleasant customer service staff is dedicated to making your interactions with MHWC/RWC as smooth as possible, and our veteran warranty resolution team will handle your customers’ claims with care.

People will talk, but why not get them talking about what a great builder you are? Put your best foot forward by giving your customers the best warranty around, a MHWC/RWC warranty!

Have a great Fall and Winter!

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