Creating kitchens and baths for finicky customers since 1993

backsplash features inset metal tiles for accent and texture

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Out with the old - in with the new

Last week marked a milestone. We spent the first three days working on our final Chase-Pitkin kitchen, actually our final CP job--period. Mike and I decided to do this one together, just to be certain it didn't drag on. Good thing, too: two of the cabinets were big and heavy! On Thursday, we'll return to install the new countertop (measured and built to fit exactly). Nice kitchen, very decent customer, and no big headaches (knock on wood!). There will be no fanfare, or any other real way to mark it, but that will be the end of that. The stores' shelves are nearly empty; and the showroom's stock is being sold off this week, auction-style. The whole thing is still a tough pill to swallow, after thirteen good years. I can't dwell on it. Life always moves on, doesn't it?

Mike and I did a job for a new customer this morning. It was a tricky one, but all went well and we were "in and out" by lunchtime. This was one of those rare customers who likes to watch but doesn't like to interfere. He's a big NASCAR fan, and so is Mike, so there was quite a bit of friendly banter--just short of the "less talk and more action" point. This customer, Jack's his name, offered us coffee and food, even beer. We gratefully drank his coffee. Jack is also one of those exceedingly rare customers who smokes inside his own home. I'm so used to stepping outside to take a cigarette break, that it felt very strange to light up indoors. (I don't really miss it anymore, though it was annoying at first when the restaurants had to ban smoking.)

As I said, the job went very well. Mike and I work well together, and there were no glitches or product defects. This was our very first job for T. McKenna Plumbing, Inc.--so the fact that it went more than OK was wonderful. The real treat came while we were packing up. I noticed that Jack was on the phone. Then I realized he was calling our new employer. (This almost never happens, except in the case of unresolvable problems.) Jack made his call in front of us, without fanfare, but in such a way that we couldn't help but overhear. He was calling to say what a fine job we had done, and to compliment our employer and us. He also mentioned several times how nice the job turned out: it was a specialty, all-custom shower door in gleaming bright brass. Any tiny error would have been glaring.

I've had compliments before, even received some very nice tips. Every now and then, a customer will send a note to the office expressing his pleasure. Anyone in any service industry knows how much we treasure these beyond-price rewards. This was, however, the first time I'd ever actually been privy to a customer's "I'm so happy" telephone call. What a great feeling!

This got us talking. Jack was well aware of the effect his call had on Mike and me. We are all familiar with the opposite phenomenon. A displeased customer makes no bones about his feelings. You can be sure his displeasure will be aired, one way or another. It's all part of the squeaky wheel syndrome, and the fact that it's much easier to be negative than positive in life. How often have you seen signs planted in someone's yard protesting this or that, with the big red circle-slash over the disliked event? It takes someone with self-confidence, awareness, and empathy to offer up unsolicited positive feedback. Of course, the very rarity of compliments in everyday life also reinforces their value to us all. If everybody was thoughtful and nice, would we even notice?

Oh, yeah; I almost forgot: Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Getting back to work, seriously!

The end of Chase-Pitkin Installed Services is now in sight. I've spent the last week or so tidying up loose ends and assembling year-end info. The weather has been spectacular--gold weather, even! Alas, winter has returned, and with it a more regular work schedule.

This week begins the final CPit kitchen. Mike and I are tackling this one together, so we can gang-up on some windows for his end of the business next week. This is a very strange feeling, knowing we're working for my last CP customer. Nice-looking cabinets, too, by the way. The best part of this job is that we are indoors, working in a nice warm room, while the wind and snow whirls around outside. The next kitchen I write about here will be for my first T. McKenna Plumbing, Inc. customer. "One door closes, another door opens..." And spring is just around the corner, I think! More from me soon...