Profiles in Excellence with Allan Rosenthal of Linear Fine Woodworking
“Money is not my client’s problem. Knowing who to trust is. The greatest commodity I think that any company can have is trust with a client. That’s what we strive for.”
We asked Allan Rosenthal, leader of the European-style craftsmen at Linear Fine Woodworking, his secret to earning the trust of not only his clients, but also his team of over 20 years. The 3rd-generation woodworker and Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest affirmed that it takes more than skill and talent. Earning trust takes time and the motivation to do what others won’t. He shared with us six simple actions that are guaranteed to earn your client’s trust.
IT ALL STARTS WITH SOME “POOR GUYS”
Our story is really about the people on our team who work here at Linear Fine Woodworking. Without them, we’re nothing. I’m lucky to be able to say that all of these “poor guys” have been with me for forever. If you go around and ask them, they’ll tell you they’ve been with me for 13, 15, even 18 years. Though I own and run the company, they are the real heart and soul of the operation. Everything we accomplish is a team effort that involves everyone from the office staff to the craftsmen in our warehouse shop.
KEEP IN LINE EVEN IF YOU DROP THE BALL
Trust is built on follow-through. With every project we do, we deliver what we say we’re going to deliver when we say we’re going to deliver it. I know Desert Star leads with the same philosophy. After our staff has a phone conversation with a client, they follow-up with an email that sums up the points that were discussed. This keeps everybody on the same page. The team holds me up to the same standard, so if I drop the ball, which can happen because I’m human, they know to keep me in line.
We also focus on being remembered for how we end a project. If you finish strong and people aren’t chasing you around to get a project done, that’s what they remember you for. Trust is hard to earn. We’ve had projects where the client went through the painful process of hiring and firing several designers. By following through on every detail as agreed upon, we endured this challenge and stayed strong to the very end.
STAY HONEST WHEN SETTING EXPECTATIONS
When we receive a custom residential project from Desert Star Construction, the project manager knows that they can expect to get everything they need as quickly as they need it. If we come across the rare instance that we can’t meet their expectations, we tell them up front.
We recently experienced this when we were asked to participate in a DSC home building project. Based on the project details, we were able to complete most of the wood crafted items requested. However, there were a few areas where we just didn’t feel like we could meet the client’s timeline without sacrificing quality. We decided to let go of a couple passage doors and a highly detailed bedroom unit, and DSC hired another wood crafter to complete those pieces. Believe me, I didn’t want to decline the additional work, but I also didn’t want to disappoint the client or Team DSC®. In the end, we finished the project as agreed upon and everyone was happy with the completed home. It’s always better to manage expectations directly and honestly by saying, “This is what we are able to do to the best of our ability.”
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
At Linear Fine Woodworking, we specialize in a veneer technique called Grain Matching – it’s the most challenging and time-consuming production method in our business, which is why so very few shops in Phoenix, AZ do it. We’ve been quality-driven for years, working out the finest details of our handcrafted veneers. We do a lot of computerized work on big machines, and we always strive to advance the efficiency and quality of our processes. This dedication and willingness to take the road less traveled is similar to The DSC Standard®. It’s the reason why we’ve created a reputation for exceptional work.
Our team takes a lot of pride in craftsmanship, making us exceptionally detail-oriented. I’ve always been a perfectionist. I can walk through the shop and see things that should be improved or corrected. If there’s something I see that I don’t like, I stop and say, ‘‘you need to do it this way and this is why.’’ When it comes to our shop drawings, I’ve been told they are as detailed as they come. The builder, designer, and the client know exactly what they’re getting from us. The details make all the difference as they become what you’re most remembered for.
GUIDING THE PROCESS
We guide our clients throughout the process of creating their custom millwork package. I walk them through the shop, demonstrate what we do, and show them what projects look like at various phases of completion so they have a frame of reference for what their pieces will look like. Some clients respond to work they see in our shop, while others tell us what they like from our online portfolio. I’ll walk them to the veneer room and show them our wall of custom veneers. From there we go into the design and drafting phase where we create multiple designs based on their vision and our suggestions.
Sometimes with a repeat client they want to take a different direction. We’ve completed a very modern-style project for clients that decide they want to go with a shaker style. Sometimes they simply want to soften the look of their second home. It’s really up to the client what we create for them. For all of our custom woodworking projects including those we do for DSC, we create mock-ups for the clients, so they can get a picture of how the wood will look in their home. We also provide them with a fully detailed binder that includes all of their CAD files, drawings, and revisions from start to finish. It’s a nice experience showing our clients what we do because that’s our passion.
LEAVE AN OPEN DOOR WHEREVER YOU GO
Our clients are very particular about what they want. They understand what they are paying for, and they expect what they’re paying for. We order wood based on our client’s needs and store it in our warehouse to complete their entire package. Once Team DSC® gives us the approval to move onto a site and install our work, many of our clients begin thinking through what furniture they want us to build. We’ll hold onto their wood material until they’re ready, and they appreciate the level of service we provide. It’s a really nice relationship to have with a client.
We’ve been blessed to have so much repeat work, which excites me, because as Jerry knows, I am not really big on knocking on a million doors. I’d rather leave an open door wherever I go. The way I do that is by providing as perfect a product as our team knows how to provide. I think having a happy client at the end is everything I could ever ask for. It’s really about developing strong relationships based on trust and having a reputation that if there is a demanding client with high expectations, they know they can always count on us.
LINEAR FINE WOODWORKING AND TEAM DSC®
“After working on several projects with Team DSC®, including Family Fiesta and La Grande Maison, Jeremy said to me, ‘You know, it’d be great if we had a book that showed the various types of wood veneer that are available to our clients.’
I hand-delivered a big veneer book shortly thereafter to the DSC office. By the time I got back to the Linear shop, I received an email from Jeremy that said, ‘Boy, you guys don’t do anything halfway, do you?’
I think that’s why the teams at Linear Fine Woodworking and Desert Star Construction get along so well. DSC knows I’m going to give a client everything I know how to give them. That’s all you could do at the end of the day.“