The reality is, as soon as Crappe’s clients learn this about him, they will not come back. I know I won’t, chiefly because Crappe is a liar. His firm does above average work, yet I will not use them, even if it means delays to my project. When things go sideways, and they will, I want a company to step up and take their due That’s how I conduct my affairs, it’s what I teach my kids, and it is what I expect of those I deal with. Anyone who is never wrong cannot be trusted.
Case in Point No. 2. A good friend of mine, we’ll call him Bobby Cheerful, owns a construction company. I’ve hired his company many times, but lately, their performance has been sub-par. I didn’t say anything the first couple of flub-ups, but when they screwed up a third time in less than a month, I knew a meeting was in order.
“Bobby,” I said to him on the phone, “we’ve got a problem I want to talk with you about.”
“Uh-oh,” he replied, his normally cheery voice edged with anxiety. “Okay, sure. But, uh, can you tell me the nature of the problem?”
“Well, your guys messed up a concrete pour. It wasn’t a big deal, but it’s not the first time. I know you haven’t been to the job site in a while and thought you ought to know what’s going on. What are you doing for lunch later in the week?”
“Tim, if we’ve got a problem, and it’s okay with you, I’d rather not wait until the end of the week. How about lunch today?”
“Well, I suppose so.”
“Great. See you at Rocket Rodney’s at noon. I’m buying.”
When we got there, Bobby had his project manager with him. After some pleasantries, I got right to the issues.
“Bobby, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but there have been enough problems with your company’s work lately that I would have a tough time recommending you.”
Those are words of doom to any business owner. Bobby’s perpetual grin was now gone; I had his full attention. I went into the specifics of the problems, sticking with my own factual observations. I avoided mudslinging based on he-said, she-said and hearsay. I felt it was also important for Bobby to know that I’d heard some of his other customers making similar complaints and that mine were not isolated incidents.
Bobby listened attentively, not once interrupting with excuses. When I finished, he explained what he thought were the problems and why they were happening. He and his project manager openly discussed methods already underway to correct the problems, as well as additional measures that would be taken. He was embarrassed, extremely apologetic and offered several times to make it right, whatever the cost.
Had Crappe been there instead of Bobby Cheerful, I wouldn’t have even been able to finish explaining the issues. Mid-discussion, our roles would have somehow reversed: I would have been the one lectured as to the vast and great improprieties foisted on Crappe’s staff by a world full of Evil Plotters and Incompetent Boobs (none of which could have possibly been his own) and that Crappe Surveying Inc. actually averted a major catastrophe on my behalf — how dare I complain! I should be grateful, instead, that the problems were soooo small and insignificant. Good thing this meeting never happened.
In summary, I will do business again with Bobby Cheerful because he stepped up to the plate and took ownership of his company’s problems. And more importantly, he took the necessary proactive steps to correct them. But Phillipe Crappe will never enjoy the privilege of learning how his company could do better, at least not from me.
Tim K. Garrison P.E. of ConstructionCalc.com has authored books and short courses and lectures on topics relevant to builders. Got a technical or management issue? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim reads every one.
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