Quality is embedded throughout every part of Kirkwood Homes, from the design and build of our product, internal finish and each and every stage of the journey, right through to completion. This focus continues well beyond our clients handover day - and this is when our passionate and dedicated customer care team become actively involved.
After working as a carpenter for over 16 years, Julian Henderson joined the Kirkwood Homes team in 2012 as a finishing joiner, before progressing to Site Manager, a role he held for several years. He then moved into his current position of Maintenance Manager, where he heads up our customer care team.
We caught up with Julian to find out how he brings exceptional quality to the work he undertakes at Kirkwood Homes, what his role entails - and why he believes Kirkwood is a superior homebuilder…
Tell us about what your role involves?
“I am part of Kirkwood’s customer care team, and our goal is to support our customers beyond their move-in date, ensuring they are delighted with their new home. This is particularly prevalent after they move in, when we assess any snagging to be done, and ensure the quality of each home is up to our high standards, as well as 18-24 months later, when minor remedial work may need to be conducted due to the house settling.
“My role is very varied. I sit in between our customers and our site teams, coordinating work and ensuring it is all completed to a high standard in a timely manner. I also work closely with our site managers across all developments.
“Every day is different, which I love. When I’m in the office, I am busy responding to customer emails and providing them with updates, answering technical questions, organising appointments, planning and scheduling work across our teams, and ultimately ensuring everything is progressing smoothly. I also spend a lot of time out of the office, conducting site visits and meeting with our customers in their homes.”
What is the ultimate goal in your role as Maintenance Manager?
“My ultimate goal is to have happy customers at the end of their journey, who feel the service from Kirkwood was second-to-none, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend us to their family and friends.
“We are the last people customers deal with, so our role is extremely important in ensuring they are satisfied and are happy with their new Kirkwood home and their overall buying experience.”
What are the key stages of the customer care process at Kirkwood?
“Once a customer moves in, they have a window to identify any snagging that needs to be done. This is then assessed, and our team will be in touch to arrange the work required.
“All new houses go through a period of settlement, usually taking 18-24 months. This is when the building materials dry and settle into the foundations, and this can cause minor cracking, popping nails, and so on. At this point, our team gets in touch with our customers to create a snagging list, and we will advise what is covered within the warranty. We can then arrange for the necessary fixes and improvements to be carried out.
“We are also on-hand to help with any issues or concerns that arise after move-in day. We understand how stressful it can be moving house, and we want to ensure each customer’s house is up to our high standards.”
What does quality mean to you?
“For me, personally, I think back to my time as a joiner. My old boss used to say to us: “Stand back after you’ve finished, look at the job, and ask yourself if you would accept this if it was your own house.” The answer always has to be yes.
“This is the mantra that myself and also the site managers employ at the stages throughout the build, to ensure that the high level of quality we strive for is being achieved.
“For Kirkwood, quality is also related to the internal specification of our homes, with our kitchens, sanitaryware, appliances and internal doors a real cut above the rest! It’s why we’re unique - and it’s why people choose to live in our homes over other developers - it’s the higher standards we continuously offer.”
What do you love most about your job?
“We have a lot of happy customers, which is so satisfying, however I do really enjoy the feeling of resolving an issue or concern a customer may have. I love helping to turn this around, providing a solution, and seeing that customer satisfaction at the end.
“I love interacting with customers, and I also enjoy working with our team - they are amazing and switched on, and it’s a great place to work.”
What do you find rewarding in your role?
“I would say receiving a nice email from a customer at the end of our work is the most rewarding part. When the jobs are completed, it’s nice to get a thank you for organising the team who are so careful in what they do - dusting sheets down, making as little noise as they can, being flexible and working with the customer to minimise disruption.
“When I’m back on site, I enjoy chatting to customers and saying hi - and I’ve actually made many friends through my job.”
What is it like working for Kirkwood?
“Kirkwood is an excellent company to work for. I’ve been here since 2012, and although there have been lots of changes and different people joining the company, it’s getting better and better all the time. If I require any help or advice, I know I can go upstairs and chat to the team, and when I’ve got ideas on how we can improve our homes, they’re always taken on board. I really do love working here!”
What sets Kirkwood apart from competitors?
“For us, it’s all about the design and quality, which is a step above the rest. We use very high quality internal doors, for example, and for a lot of other builders who use cheaper brands, the quality just isn’t there like it is with our homes.
“When I’m carrying out visits, I’m part of various conversations about the style of the houses we build. A lot of customers comment on the storage areas we offer compared to other homebuilders, and say our homes are very well designed for maximising space. Everyone compliments the design, which brings it back to the high level of quality that the Kirkwood brand embodies.”
What’s your favourite Kirkwood development or housetype?
“I don’t have a favourite development - they’re all as good as one another!
“The housetypes change from time to time and are all excellent - but for me, ‘The Marr’ is absolutely lovely. We’ve designed a few variations over the years, however the layout features a winding staircase, a fantastic kitchen/dining/family area to the rear of the home, which is absolutely stunning, and a separate lounge which lets in lots of natural light. It’s an outstanding home.”