As I sit here early in the morning, I have a little writer’s block. MASONRY Magazine has been kind enough to publish 50 or so of my articles over the last six years. I think of a topic, then realize I have written that article before, and then my mind wanders into oblivion for a second. As my mind drifts further into past experiences, one pops out. Bam! There is my inspiration for this article.
Now, I will agree that this may not be the straightforward talking point that some may want, but I have always been about perspective. I am not always right, I am not for everybody, and I don’t want to be. I want to write articles for people who want to open their minds to conflicting thoughts.
It has always been funny to me how lessons come from some of the least expected places. Sometimes a lesson comes from something that wasn’t even meant to be a lesson. About 20 years ago, while coming up through the family business, we had a customer call back.
This call back was out of the ordinary for us. First, we may have only had one call back a year, and second, they were not mad. We had done a design repair project for this client, and the repair had not lived up to what we had thought it would. We had done similar projects in the past with success, but this one just fell short.
Since the first project, we had put ourselves through some education. We were constantly on the lookout for information, better sources, and a network that we could lean on in times of need. Well, this new information explained to us why our original designed repair was not 100% correct. In theory, it should work, but the variables attached were too risky.
We went to the client’s home, explained to them the new information we had received, and proceeded to give them a proposal for removing the original repair and replacing it with our new and improved design.
I must interject here that this was not a warranty issue. It had been a few years before it reared its’ ugly head. The client, though, was less impressed.
I was a bystander in these conversations. I was still learning, and my father was the lead. After a couple of days of talking to our trusted network, bouncing ideas off each other, and swallowing a few pride sandwiches, it hit my father in the face.
When a client hires a contractor, they are taking on some risk as well. They are betting that the person they hired is the best for their project. If they are not, it isn’t always the contractor’s fault. My father called the client and explained it like this: You hired us based off of our design and price, and we installed everything we said we would in a correct fashion according to our existing knowledge. We now have better information, but at that time and place, you got exactly what you paid for.
It went over better than you think.
Sometimes we as contractors feel the need to bend over backwards for our clients, and many of them you should. However, we also need to understand that there is risk on both sides of this transaction. As long as you are doing every step of a project to the best of your ability and haven’t lied about your abilities to secure the project, you have done your part.
Not all projects work out the way we wish they would, but some responsibility has to go to the person that hired the contractor. Take care of your clients, but never take care of them at all costs. Know yourself, your skills, your company, and your clients enough to be able to stand your ground when necessary. Sometimes cutting ties is the only way out.