Home of the Square Deal
By Gary Kulp, Founder and President
When I founded Austin Gutter King in 2001, I used as my philosophical foundation The Square Deal. The gutter industry was and is rife with installation companies that treat their employees poorly and their customers unethically. My intuition was that a company that functions with the well-being of the customer and employee at the forefront will succeed.
For our customers, the Square Deal means the following:
- Customer Satisfaction. AGK is a customer-satisfaction company that installs rain gutters. We judge our success by the responses we receive on our quality surveys and the kind reviews we receive online.
- No “Hard Sells.” Our mission is to educate our clients and to provide as many options as possible in order to satisfy the client’s needs and budget. You will never hear “What can I do to wrap this up today?” from an AGK representative. We are not afraid of losing a sale because the client is obtaining one more estimate.
- We don’t play pricing games. It is common for rain gutter companies to offer “half-off labor” or “free rain barrels with a purchase of 100 feet.” In truth, these items aren’t free nor are they discounted. The companies that offer the discounts first mark up their prices to cover their costs and use the “discounts” as a way to entice interest from cost-conscious consumers. Austin Gutter King simply doesn’t offer gimmick sales such as these. We believe that it is unethical to deceive the consumer. In the rare event that we advertise a sale, the discount is from our every-day price.
- We offer our best price up front. It is common for our competitors to give an estimate to a potential client and then, if the proposal is rejected, start working down in price. Discounts magically appear for placing a sign in the yard, for example. Similarly, and more disingenuously, some companies will follow up via telephone after three or four days to offer a discount, since the sales representative wasn’t able to close the deal at a higher price on the day of the proposal. The phone offer will mention some “new” discount that the sales representative wasn’t authorized to offer. Treating a customer in this manner lacks integrity. We want to build a relationship of trust with the Austin community, and thus won’t take advantage of our customers in this manner. Our best price is the one we propose to you on the day of our visit.
- AGK carries workers compensation insurance. Most clients aren’t aware that their homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t protect them from damages awarded from workplace injuries. In that the hanging of rain gutters is hazardous, AGK believes that it is unethical to subject its clients to the risk of lawsuit and bankruptcy as a consequence of trusting us with their business.
- Quality. Quality. Quality. Since our second year in business, we have employed a dedicated quality inspector who looks at every job. Also, we have a formal installer training program to ensure that deficiencies are spotted and corrected. We owe our customers nothing less than these efforts.
- Community Values. AGK is a leader in environmental responsibility. Additionally, we empower our employees to live meaningful and productive lives through education, vacation, health, and retirement benefits. We believe that these initiatives are in alignment with the values of the Austin community.
For our employees, the Square Deal means:
- Pay that Equals Productivity. Every work order includes a detailed pay sheet so that the installer can verify that his pay is appropriate for the job. We will not cheat a worker out of his justly earned pay. Surprisingly, this aspect of the Square Deal is one of the great inducements for installers to leave other firms to join us.
- Organized Operations. The company goes to great lengths to organize daily activities to maximize productive time for our installers. We prepare materials for our installers and provide well-documented contracts so that they can maximize their time in the field. Also, our in-house vehicle maintenance staff keeps vehicles on the road so that employees can meet their financial needs.
- Well-defined Work Hours. AGK does not pressure installers to accept additional work if by chance they arrive early to the shop at the end of the day. The heat in cental Texas makes excessive work dangerous. Our installers arrive at the shop at 6:00AM and usually have finished their work by 2:00. We want them off of the roof by noon to minimize the chance of sun stroke and so that they can spend time with their families.
- Emphasis on Safety. Our installers all receive OSHA 10 and fall protection training. They also receive bonuses for safe conduct.
- Educational Benefit. For many employees, the time with the company is just one stop on the path to a greater goal. The company recognizes and encourages this personal/educational growth. Towards that end, we offer tuition reimbursement to our employees. In 2012, we granted over $4,000 to blue and white collar scholars.
- Health Care. Since our first year, we have offered high-quality health care coverage to our employees and their families. AGK pays half of the employee’s cost of insurance.
- Paid Vacations. All employees qualify for up to two weeks of paid vacation. Family and relaxation time are important for all.
- Retirement Planning. The company offers 401K retirement benefits to all employees.