Recently, a client looked over our final invoice at the completion of a project and compared it to our original “description of work” (DOW). “I know you guys did a lot of additional stuff during this remodel. You should include those things in the invoice and show their value, even if you aren’t charging for them,” he commented. Our response was that the additional paperwork wasn’t really worth our effort as long as he appreciated what had been done — which was really the point to begin with.
His observation, however, got us to thinking about the way we look at integrity in our business. How we define that term is a frequently asked question that we can answer in six words: keeping our end of the agreement — which is, of course, another way of saying “doing the things we said we were going to do.” As an integral part of the STRITE culture, this value goes beyond the notion of contractual obligation. Sure, our contracts require us to produce what we’ve agreed to on paper, but our interpretation of “integrity” is more about truly having the best interests of our customers in mind.
In terms of how our definition of integrity is experienced by our customers (besides seeing things accomplished beyond the DOW), it involves maintaining a critical eye throughout the life of a project in order to present options that will create a better outcome. It is important to point out, however, that presenting these options does not necessarily mean adding cost, but instead ensuring that down the road our clients don’t find themselves wishing something had been done differently when an alternative could have been presented earlier in the process. From a client perspective, you might say that our sense of integrity is felt most keenly as an absence of regret. For us, it simply means viewing our obligation to our clients as going beyond the particulars of the description of work. Fulfilling a contract is one thing, leaving your customers with an abiding sense of fulfillment is quite another — it’s a seeming intangible that is at the heart of what the word “integrity” means to STRITE.