Don't burn bridges…

July 11th, 2009 by Gallagher John No Comments

I had a recent non-WOW experience with a service company that has been disappointing, at best:

1) Company ‘X’ installed a lawn in my customer’s home in December 2008 (knew there was no way yard would come in and agreed then he would need to come back in the spring to finish the job)

2) I call back in Spring and hear- “Soonest I can come out is a month” – Thus, we miss another good planting season.

3) Comes over does ‘some’ work…then leaves without finishing…regular ploy by several building contractors

4) Proceeds to push ‘blame’ on the a) homeowner, b) builder, and c) the excavator as to why the lawn didn’t come in

5) Completes work (although he says he does “the best he can” on a $700,000 house). So, the homeowner wasn’t happy. They basically give up and do some of the work themselves

6) Bills the wrong people

7) Sends me a SECOND notice with no terms.

8) 30 days later, his accountant calls me and proceeds to tell me her side and is prepared to turn me over to collections without even taking a breath! Guess she didn’t want to hear my story at all.

9) She gives me the amount and says she will place the bill in my mailbox the next day

10) Next day, she hands the bill to my wife at the door: “John knows what this is!”

11) When I review it, I find that she has added a 2% late charge. No mention of that on the phone…OR any previous correspondence (2nd notice invoice with no terms).

Now, I am not totally innocent in the matter. I could have paid the bill immediately even though there were no terms OR I could have ASKED what the terms were when I got the second notice.

However, I am:

1) the Realtor in the sub-division who represents the developer of 225 acres

2) the Realtor who represents three other builders in the sub-division who will need to put in more yards over the next 15 years. You see, this development will be 150 home sites and thus, need 150 lawns. Only 12 homes have been built thus far.

3) a builder building a speculative home. I will need a lawn there and I need some lawn work done on my home as well. I had asked this gentleman early on if he had any interest in working on these two areas and he said ‘yes’ but did not follow-up with any interest.

4) a resident of the sub-division, so I will get to meet each future owner when they come in at the pool or their new home

5) thus, a potential referral machine for this organization in the future.

What are the lessons to be learned?

Business, like life, is relationships…the rest is just details. People do business with people they LIKE.

Don’t burn bridges – life is too short. You don’t know who you may need in the future. (or, don’t tell someone the amount of an invoice over the telephone and then when delivering the invoice, add on a fee you did not previously discuss!).

Take responsibility for your own ‘stuff’ – don’t play the ‘blamestorming game’

First, seek to understand…then to be understood (the accountant clearly went the opposite direction)

I am sure there are more.

So, now I must find a new lawn installer…Can you suggest someone who can make it a WOW experience?

And, I probably need to be better at seeking first to understand. Where in my business am I burning bridges?
Do you have a non-WOW experience you want to share?