Marshmallow Walls

March, 2010 

Bird posters in workshop

It looks a bit like sheepskin has been tucked into every nook and cranny of the walls. The whole house has become quieter. Foam insulation is a little pricey, but a great way to get an air-tight barrier. Anyone who’s lived in a drafty old house can tell you that a small gap can feel like an open door when the wind blows hard in the winter. Comfort, energy savings, and a product that won’t settle or sag. Sold.

But the journey here was quite a trip. Last fall, a man knocked on the door saying he could see we were doing renovations and would be happy to quote us on insulation, showers, closets… Admiring his pluck, I showed him around and asked for a quote. That was the last bit of inspired service I got. On this project I had the “J” crew – Jeff, Jason (2), Jeremy, Josh, Joe and Jim. So strange.

In my recent intensive experience, contractors are often maddeningly rough around the customer-service edges. So here’s my rant, my top 10 for contractors:

10) Answer the phone yourself or hire someone. A curt message on your answering machine is not good enough.
9) Call back. Every time. Same day.
8) Clean up after yourself. Take your empty soda cans with you. The customer is not your mom.
7) Don’t try to hide your mistakes. Fess up and make it right.
6) Don’t bad-mouth the competition. It makes you look mean. 
5) Women are not stupid and don’t assume they have a husband who makes the final decisions.
4) Don’t wreck the work of other trades.
3) Show up on time, work a full day, close up when you leave. HINT: talking on your cell phone, smoking, and chatting/griping with co-workers are not work.
2) Say you don’t know when you don’t know.
1) Deliver quality work every time. Do your best work even if you made a bad quote. Make sure you crew does too. It’s your reputation and that’s your future.

I’m sure you have crackpot customer frustrations too. But that’d be your top ten.


Bird posters in workshop
Bird posters in workshop
Bird posters in workshop
Bird posters in workshop