After more than 20 years in fire and essential services, we at DEM Fire learnt a tough lesson with one of our biggest customers that has been working with us for most of our 20-plus year history, the Goodman Group. Our recovery has meant improvements to our systems and processes and a focus on service levels and contract deliverables in our uniquely designed commercial fire protection solutions. It has also meant being recognised as a best practice example to the very client who taught us the lesson in the first place.
The Goodman Group was established in Australia in 1989. Today, it owns, develops and manages over 400 properties globally to the tune of AU$63 billion across 17 countries..
Per their website, the Goodman Group doesn’t believe in good. Or good enough. They don’t believe in the short-term or taking shortcuts. They don’t believe in putting business before people. Or anything before quality. They believe in great.
The partnership between DEM Fire and Goodman began around 18 years ago when both businesses were substantially smaller than they are now. “As the businesses grew, the teams became bigger and the volume of properties increased, so did our portion of the contracted business from Goodman,” says our General Manager, Gary Marshall.
DEM Fire was responsible for the largest portion of the Goodman Group properties in Sydney.
As teams grow, people within those teams change. One of these changes lead to Goodman putting our business under pressure to answer service delivery questions stipulated in our signed service agreements.
Our relationship with Goodman resulted from an inherent relationship from when DEM Fire was only doing fire maintenance. Although the business relationship has never been disputed, cultural differences crept into the fold we identified in 2018. The team asked themselves hard questions about whether they were delivering the service they wanted and the service they had established their reputation on.
The short answer was no, which was discussed in a session with Gary and our Managing Director, Tom Marshall. This reality and a tough lesson meant they significantly reduced their annual contract value.
As the team at DEM Fire had already identified a potential issue with service delivery internally, they had set out to make the changes within the team. Testament to the type of relationships we have with our clients, business leaders Gary and Tom had a frank discussion with the Goodman team to identify other areas of concern.
Tom and Gary humbly took the feedback ‘on the chin’. They immediately evaluated the issues and strategised solutions as the leaders of DEM Fire, then embarked on an internal crusade to rectify the cultural problems and build processes intended to put and keep the customer first.
Within 6-12 months of the new contracts awarded in 2019/2020, DEM Fire became recognised as the best-in-class contractor, and our performance has set the benchmark for other contractors in fire and essential services. In fact, the Goodman team was impressed by how humbly Tom and Gary handled the feedback session and how proactive they were in making the changes.
DEM Fire has also started winning back some of the higher-value contracts we lost as part of this process, and we continue to maintain our superior level of customer service across the business and our service delivery – not only Goodman Group but all our DEM Fire customers.
Gary says, “As tough as the feedback was to hear from such a long-standing customer of ours, it what we chose to do with that criticism that really defines us as a business. We are in the business of relationships and want to encourage transparency and accountability with our customers.”