For many years, I’ve been “doing this stuff”, mostly without really seeing what we do from the client’s point of view. Lately, I’ve become more aware of “the other side” of renovations. Very simply, or more specifically, what is the client seeing or feeling. I say, with some jest, that we ask a client to hand over their property assets and wallet, and we’ll dump them both on the floor, mix them all up and hand them back a completed job – trust me. What that callously means is that we’re proposing to take their money and, if they trust us, we’ll give them what they want for what they want to pay and then give them back their keys and go away – really. That’s a huge pill to swallow. Trust?! Are you crazy? Do you have any idea how many dishonest people (contractors AND homeowners) are out there?
As we all heard of the “recession” looming in the future, and then the actual reality of it, everyone’s wallets slammed shut and it became harder to even get the phone to ring, let alone getting anyone to TRUST a contractor to do any work. All that did was kill the “fly by night” contractors and anyone who capitalized on the “Olympic Boom” of previous months. Only those who had a steady foothold in the market with a good client base and a reputation were able to keep going. (Side note: We are STILL here…). That’s made me appreciate the clients that we do have, and look forward to meeting new clients and building a relationship with them. That’s all that we have is a relationship with the client. Any monkey can do our job. Any monkey can advertise to get some sucker to agree to give him/her some money to do some work that should be Ok. What monkeys can’t do is get a client to TRUST them. It’s the relationship and the trust that allow the job to start and finish successfully. Success is determined by a satisfied client who puts THEIR name on the line to refer the contractor to their friends, family and colleagues. That can’t be bought, sold, or trained. It’s just learned.
What I didn’t realize is what a traumatic, stressful and unnerving task it is to have your home renovated. Some people do well with that interruption to their lives. For others, it’s like a root canal without anesthetic. I was the dentist WITHOUT the needle, rather than the nurse with the moist towelette. Now, I’m the dentist with the needle AND the towelette. There’s more compassion, understanding and, well, sympathy for each and every one of our clients. We do this every day of the week (well……. we do have some time off ) and became desensitized to the horror of renovations. Some of our clients may have never renovated before, and should be guided safely through the thorns so the roses can be smelled on the other side of the garden.
So, walk with us to the roses. I’ll be there with a band-aid* if a thorn catches catches you. Really. Trust me.
Next time: “Unseen Costs of Renovations”