A Hallmark of Excellence for Huntington, NY Firm
Nearly three decades ago, in 1990, George Combs established his residential remodeling business, George W. Combs, Inc., headquartered in Huntington, NY, on the principles of professionalism, integrity, and highly-structured business processes. His adherence to these values has enabled him to position his business as a high-end renovation company, catering to high-value remodeling projects throughout Long Island. The average value of a remodeling project George W. Combs, Inc. now takes on is between $1 and $3 million. Combs’ focus on working with clients who value professionalism and quality over the lowest price has allowed his business to maintain high customer satisfaction, good profit margins, and has added a certain prestige to the company name.
In his continued commitment to the tenets upon which he built the business, Combs joined the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) in 2014 and began to take advantage of the various networking and educational opportunities the association offers.
When he came across the prestigious certifications NARI offers to individual industry professionals, Combs immediately recognized them as an important differentiator in a crowded marketplace and a tool to validate his professionalism, achieving Certified Remodeler (CR) certification in January 2016.
Discovering NARI Accreditation
By the time NARI launched the Accredited Remodeling Company program in 2017, Combs was already familiar with how a reputable certification elevates current and prospective clients’ perception of a remodeling professional. He was excited for the opportunity to apply these same benefits to the entirety of his company by working to achieve accreditation.
“I am always trying to set myself apart in business,” says Combs, “which is a daunting task because everyone is so focused on price. When I heard about NARI Accreditation, I immediately identified it as a way to prove to my prospective customers that what we say in our marketing collateral and sales presentations is backed by the strictest standards of professionalism and solid business operations, as verified by an independent third-party – our industry association.”
What particularly appealed to Combs about NARI’s Accredited Remodeling Company program was just how rigorous the accreditation process was. The accreditation standard addressed key business components every reputable remodeling company should have in place and the foundations upon which he built his business: Ethics, Business and Financial Operations, Marketing and Sales, Quality Compliance and Training, and Production and Field Operations.
The Road to Accreditation
“It was an eight month preparation process as we looked at our finances, job costing, quality control, subcontractor management, etc., all while continuing normal business operations and taking care of our clients,” Combs says. But it was all worth it and he views the work he and his team put into accreditation as an important investment in his company, not just from a marketing perspective but operationally as well.
“While in many cases the process reaffirmed what we were already doing operationally, it was an educational and informative experience which forced us to address components of the business we had either not fully developed or found were lacking. Accreditation gave us the opportunity to improve and fine tune those processes for increased operational efficiency and effectiveness”, he reflects.
After months of preparation, official submission of its accreditation application, along with attached proof of the company’s business practices, processes, and procedures, and a comprehensive review by the NARI Accreditation Board, George W. Combs, Inc. achieved accreditation to NARI’s Accredited Remodeling Company program in January 2018.
“You’ve made a good choice in running your business with integrity and professionalism and validating this dedication to excellence by pursuing NARI Accreditation.”
Since achieving accreditation, Combs’ marketing and sales teams have gone to work to make sure their prospective clients are aware of the company’s accreditation and the assurance it provides them they are working with a competent and professional remodeling contractor.
Carolyn Walkin, the company’s Marketing Director, notes, “We recently created a new marketing piece for business development and acknowledgement of our accreditation is a big part of this piece.”
Combs believes the NARI Accreditation will, “provide us with further brand awareness in our local market.” After all, “We’re accredited by our industry association, why would you hire someone who is not?” he says.
Advice to Contractors
Combs also provides some advice to companies thinking about or already pursuing accreditation, “Designate a key employee as a project champion who will oversee the process, delegate compliance tasks to individual team members, and assure quality completion of each compliance item.” He also knows how intimidating the accreditation process can be and advises, “Don’t be discouraged because of how daunting the task can seem. Break it down into chapters and tackle it in steps.”
What Accreditation Means for the Industry
Ultimately, Combs views NARI Accreditation as an important program to improve the professionalism and perception of the remodeling industry. “There are, unfortunately, many contractors who are uninsured, unlicensed, and unqualified. Accreditation will elevate our industry’s professionalism and help clients identify professional contractors.”
He assures contractors who are considering accreditation, “NARI Accreditation will be a big component in acquiring higher end and more profitable projects with clients who value quality over price.”
To those already pursuing accreditation, he says, “You’ve made a good choice in running your business with integrity and professionalism and validating this dedication to excellence by pursuing NARI Accreditation.”
Questions about the NARI Accredited Remodeling Company program?
Contact Plamena Todorova, Education Manager
Learn more at www.nari.org/arc