As we all know, some folks get it, others just don’t.
We moved recently. As I write this I realize it was six months ago to the day and what an action-packed half-year it’s turned out to be. Ostensibly a downsize – and indeed we have shed a shed, half a garage, and roughly a half-acre and 1,000 square feet of living space – it turned into a rather large home improvement project. Hey, if you’re gonna buy an antique Colonial built the year Rutherford B. Hayes was elected president, you might as well slap a three-story addition on and redo nearly every room in the process, right? Yup, that’s what we bit off and as my wife likes to say, it’s like childbirth: if you remembered how painful this stuff is, you’d never do it again. And as the great Britney Spears is wont to say, oops we did it again.
So it’s been months of “many mans,” as my adult children have come to call it. Between builders, siders, landscapers, engineers, architects, electricians, floorers, plumbers, and one industrious painter our house has been overrun with workers, with some days seeing a dozen at a time. Mild start to winter that it was (curse you, February!), ongoing activity ran right up to and around the holidays of 2016, a season that will forever be recalled as Crack Den Christmas. Tis an expensive gift we gave each other rife with lessons learned. The biggest one? Some folks aren’t terribly appreciative when you hand them money, yet others joyfully are when handing it back.
Let’s start with the latter noting that Jordan’s Furniture is still on top of its game. On a romantic Saturday evening of furniture shopping, we were helped by a very accommodating and knowledgeable salesperson for well over an hour as she tirelessly dragged drawers from various tables to match up with fabric for countless sofas. She sketched out a plan and when we wondered aloud if it required an additional chair, Madame Saleswoman quickly demurred. You could say she’s just preventing a future return, but it was clear that she didn’t want us to overcrowd our new family room. And through no fault of her own, we did end up buying two items that needed returning (that area rug and end table just didn’t “quite work,” according to one of us, anyway) and that part went as well as any other. When I pulled up behind the Natick store to the loading docks, one gentleman scooted by me in a friendly way while another scrambled to look me up in the system. Turns out the first guy was in a rush to clean my windshield (who knew?!) and two others wasted no time removing the items from the car, now boasting spotless glass, not allowing me to lift a finger. It was all done in under three minutes, an offer of hot coffee included, and they were giving back money, refunding some $900 on the credit card. They sure seemed happy to be losing business.
Alas, not everyone was so accommodating. I shall leave names out of this part of the story; just know that we’ve run into some, well, indifference. Rates being what they are these days – high, amirite? – you’d expect extra special care and attention to detail, yet oftentimes it’s just not what we get. Payment is expected – nay, required – in chunk up front and yet emails are ignored, texts lost in a black hole, voice mails auto-flushed. Why? (Note: I’m not even bringing up the mess that’s left behind. Sweet fancy Moses, the mess.)
Quick question: whatever happened to the 24-hour rule, namely the one whereby professionals always reply to customer inquiries in one business day? We fork over piles of dough and then have to chase contractors for attention? I report from a place of frustration and yet I know we’ve had it relatively good. Friends and family are amazed we got such an attention level, noting horror stories of being abandoned either before getting into the ground or out of the job. So I shouldn’t complain too much. We’re nearly 100% done and the place looks great. It’s just hard to not scratch the ol’ noggin and wonder… where is the love?
If you run a small business that you hope to sell one day, quick word of caution: be sure to be building a stellar reputation based on friendly, Midwestern-style service. Just look how well it worked for Elliot when he sold the chain to Warren from Omaha.