5-Star Success: Atlanta

by The Contractor Files

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Atlanta painters take customer service to the next level.

When Rao and Anne Tummala decided to sell their house, a professional inspection revealed their residence needed extensive interior and exterior painting and repair. Especially because the project was so extensive, the Stone Mountain, Ga., couple knew they had to do their research to avoid costly mistakes.

"When we've hired contractors before, a lot of times it was by word of mouth," Anne Tummala says. "We've been stuck a few times where we pay them and they say they'll be back next week, only to have them never show up again. That turned us away from finding contractors this way."

Rather than relying on third-party information or simply guessing,Rao Tummala searched for contractors online. He came across www.HomeAdvisor.com, entered information about his project andread the reviews of painting contractors from other homeowners. Based on these recommendations, the Tummalas contacted Susan and Fred Kell, owners of The Painting Specialists in Loganville, Ga.

"We wanted to have someone who could do many different jobs," Anne says. "Fred was able to do both the woodworking and painting we needed."

Not only did the Tummalas find a capable contractor but a responsive one as well.

"They're very reachable," Anne says. "The fact that they returned our calls so promptly was really quite incredible, because these days, you don't get that kind of service. Usually when you call businesses, you have to wait and wait for someone to call you back. These guys actually showed up, and on time."

Thorough estimate

The Kells, who have been working in the Atlanta area for 12 years, thoroughly reviewed the Tummalas' property and the inspection report before preparing a comprehensive estimate. Shortly after producing a bid at the end of January, Fred Kell and his crew began work on painting the exterior of the European-style stucco home. They also freshened up other parts of the property including the gates, the pool house, outdoor lighting fixtures, the fountain, the pool and pool deck, some interior walls, and trim and cabinets in the home and garage. In addition to painting, the crew fixed rotting wood, replaced tile, repaired drywall and changed all the switch plates.

The Tummalas were impressed with the Kells and their employees—five to eight workers on any given day—on many levels.

"They were such a hard-working crew," Anne says. "They were courteous, helpful and professional. The house is beautiful."

Not only were the Tummalas pleased with the workers' quality of work, but they appreciated the extra effort they gave. For example, the pool required a special epoxy paint, which Fred Kell researched and ordered. And when the crew was painting near high ceilings, they washed the adjacent hard-to-reach windows.

"They went above and beyond what you would normally expect from a company," Anne says. "They're just so versatile."

Quality, attention to detail

Such versatility and customer service should be the norm, not the exception—and that's where a company like HomeAdvisor comes in, Susan Kell says.

"HomeAdvisor takes out a lot of the guesswork for homeowners," she says. "They can go online, type in what they need done and see what other customers have said about them. They know that contractors have to be licensed and insured to be on HomeAdvisor, and that eases their mind, rather than just calling someone in the telephone book they know nothing about."

The Tummalas' research certainly paid off. Even though they are moving, they know they have formed a lasting relationship with a contractor who can help them on future projects in their new home. Meanwhile, their current home has a tremendously improved resale value thanks to an experienced, prescreened contractor.

"We take pride in our home," Anne says. "It's important for us to do upkeep and keep things from deteriorating. That's why I appreciated Fred and Susan doing the professional job they did."

"They went above and beyond what you would normally expect from a company."
—Anne Tummala

Share your 5-Star Success story. Send a brief description of your good experience with a contractor to FiveStar@servicemagic.com. If your story is published, HomeAdvisor will reward you with $50 toward your next home project.