Cracking wise for 30 years

Cracking wise for 30 years

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Contributors:

Emily Bednarz

Back in November, I reached out to Wise Cracks President and CEO, Andrea Mackey.

It’s a momentous time for Wise Cracks. They’re celebrating 30 years in business with hundreds of thousands of successful jobs completed. Over the last three decades, Wise Cracks has created proprietary technologies for use in foundation waterproofing, and they have opened franchises across the country.

I emailed Andrea a list of questions to learn more about the business and its history. I know that business owners are busy people, so I expected to hear a response from her after a few days.

Andrea replied — with detailed, thoughtful answers — in under 20 minutes.

This action cuts to the core of Wise Cracks’ success. Andrea and her team are extraordinarily responsive, and they are brimming with knowledge about the home repair industry. Andrea shares that knowledge in a way that seems effortless. Working with businesses like this always makes you feel like you’re in good hands. When you can walk up to any employee, and they can rattle off ten different solutions for you to consider. It’s the kind of business where everyone on the team are experts in their niche field.

So, what is it about foundation repairs that motivates Andrea, and what inspired her to start the business? “There was a need in the industry for more standardized repairs using quality products that didn’t exist when we started in 1991,” she says. “Many companies were using archaic methods — think tar and plastic — to do repairs, and foundation repair had a general bad rap for being something where people had to be careful of who they hired.”

Andrea is proud of the positive impact her business has had over 30 years. “Wise Cracks changed the industry by providing fair standardized products, a warranty that is truly honored, and quality products that yield long term results,” she says. “We have created a more level playing field.”

Since 1994, Wise Cracks has made an incredible expansion across Canada. Franchises have opened across the Maritimes, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. I ask Andrea about the most rewarding and challenging aspects of this expansion. “Our location in Atlantic Canada can be a challenge,” she says. “Mainly due to getting supplies, equipment, and products to our warehouse at an affordable price that we can pass on to our Franchisees. The freight here alone can be challenging.” Despite the challenges, working with franchise operators keeps the Wise Cracks team focused and driven. “We continue to be motivated by our group of franchisees across Canada,” she says. “They, in turn, are making a good living for themselves and their families.”

Wise Cracks has garnered customer service awards, along with stellar reviews from happy customers. I ask Andrea what her secret is when it comes to customer service, and she protectively replies: “Most people don’t want to give away their secrets in this regard — honestly, our competition has tried to copy our advertising, warranties, etcetera.” Andrea does offer some hints:

“One thing we always do is treat others as they would like to be treated — the golden rule. We act as if the house we are working on was our own. We ask ourselves: what is the best and most economical way to tackle this leaking issue?”

Andrea has worked with homeowners from all walks of life. “Dealing with the public, you meet all kinds of people,” she says. “We often have crazy stories in this field. Suffice it to say there is never a dull moment!” She may have collected some wild stories over the years, but Andrea empathizes with her customers. “We work with panicked, stressed people who have a leaky basement. It’s a terrible thing to happen to anyone,” she says. “Some of the saddest moments in this business are working with older folks who live alone, and making sure we do the best possible thing for them — because there are contractors out there who take advantage of them, sadly.”

Andrea is passionate about offering fair and economical services to every homeowner. Over our back-and-forth emails, she highlights how important an ethical approach is when it comes to home repairs. “Competitors will push huge jobs that are completely unnecessary,” says Andrea. “Homeowners get talked into big jobs they don’t need because of pushy salespeople. There have been many instances where they have been quoted a job at $20,000, and we come in, and it’s less than $1,000 for us to repair it.”

Everyone knows someone who’s had a bad experience in the home repairs industry. “This is an issue in all home renovations,” Andrea says. “Which is why there are many popular shows on TV exposing unscrupulous contractors. We encourage folks to call around, check the BBB, and do some research before they hire.”

Another piece of advice from Andrea: don’t pay cash, even if the discount is tempting. “Unfortunately, too many people fall for contractors who insist they pay cash without paperwork,” she says. “They think they are saving money, but when they want to sell their house, they have no proof of professional repair work. When the work leaks, they have no paperwork or warranty.” Bottom line? “Don’t hire a contractor that wants to be paid in cash,” says Andrea. “This doesn’t just happen in Atlantic Canada. From coast to coast, I would say it is a common thing.”

On their website, Wise Cracks hosts a blog, which is a great resource for homeowners with specific questions. (Seriously, check it out — it’s really informative.) Searching for solutions online can be overwhelming, so I ask Andrea: with all this information available, what’s the number one piece of advice she wants readers to walk away with?

“If your basement is flooded by an inch or more of water, call your insurance company and get an insurance restoration team out there to start the clean up. Mold grows quickly, and electrical shorts or fires are possible.”

After the cleanup is done, you can start scouting for someone to help you with repairs. We hope Wise Cracks is on your list! Visit wisecracks.com for more information.

Photo courtesy of Wise Cracks.

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