Client Issues

 
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Old 06-06-2017, 03:23 AM   #1
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Client Issues


Hey everyone, I am new to this forum but am hoping someone has some advice.

I Have been working on a kitchen remodel that I thought was going really well. Until yesterday. So a bit of an overview, Early on we came across a cracked main sewer line running under their kitchen when we were moving and installing some new plumbing lines. This happened on a Friday afternoon. At the time the clients were very understanding and grateful we found and fixed a major issue. (We had to jack up the concrete running through the kitchen, install a new sewer line, and repair the concrete.) Now though, he stated to me yesterday that his "first red flag should have been when I found a problem on a Friday afternoon and didn't work through the weekend to fix it" and that everyone he's talked to has validated that. I genuinely am trying to gage if I should have stayed through the weekend with the crew to fix this? Any one else have policies or approaches about issues such as this?

Next, we built custom cabinets for the clients. We have not by any means finished them yet or have claimed to finish them. We actually have explained to them they aren't finished yet, and the whole kitchen still needs the punch list of finishing touches and such to be done.

We were away for a week and a half, them
Knowing this would happen were
Seemingly okay with it; because I got married and had a honeymoon planned. We left them with a fully functioning kitchen, and an explanation that a,b and c still needed to be finished up.

The day of my wedding the client texted me awful and rude things. Then while we were away they took it upon themselves to try and finish some stuff themselves and make a punch list of everything that needed to be touched up and finished off (i.e.: cabinet paint final coat, wall touch ups, etc). I've tried to be understanding and receptive to their complaints because I am sure living with an unfinished kitchen (even though it's fully functioning) can be upsetting. So I've been tolerant and validating and have assured him that all of this stuff we already intended to make sure was finished properly when we got back. No problem. Then yesterday, the client informs me they've been unhappy the entire renovation, among many other things (mostly about how he's trying not to "go off on me", etc). This was a bit of a shock to me because throughout the entire process, I've stayed in communication with him and his wife every step of the way and they have told us how much they are loving where the renovation is going, how excited they are, etc.

At this point, I feel that clearly I Have made some errors but also they seem to be allowing things they are perceiving are finished that aren't to cloud their judgement of the renovation process. I am looking for advice on how to handle clients that flip flop nonstop with their happiness and attitude towards me and my work. Also, open to constructive criticism of the entire situation. Because I feel absolutely horrible I have clients who feel so unhappy right now and I also feel like they are being a bit crazy. So please advice!
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Old 06-06-2017, 04:18 AM   #2
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Re: Client Issues


I had a sort of similar issue and posted it here as well.... The consensus was to basically suck it up and finish the job. Get everything in writing and signed off. My clients were the same way until one little misunderstanding led to a snowball effect and I also received harassing calls and voicemail... Just get it done all as originally stated, shake their hand and move on.

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Old 06-06-2017, 06:36 AM   #3
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Re: Client Issues


Did you fix the plumbing for free?

The only issue I can see is stopping the job for a week and a half. Even if you told the customer ebefore you started, the reality of the situation was probably a lot worse than they expected. And I'm guessing it wasn't a main focus when they hired you. Most likely went in one ear and out the other.
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:39 AM   #4
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Re: Client Issues


Thanks! Our plan has Just been to hear him out and validate the concerns, and just finish the job and be done.

We didn't fix the plumbing for free.

Although, update: the wife apologized to us today for her husband and everything he said.

Needless to say we won't ever be working for these people again!
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:41 AM   #5
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Re: Client Issues


Also, the only things left unfinished was the final coat of paint on the cabinets and touch up paint on the walls, and a few minor finishing touches. Not how we like to leave a job for any period of time, but it just was what is was. They had a fully functioning kitchen the whole time.
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:06 AM   #6
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Re: Client Issues


This happens ALL the damn time. Nothing stresses people out like a renovation, and when a few things go the wrong way they focus right in on them. When you leave a job for a week and a half it just let's them sit there and stew on all the little unfinished ****.

Then things go really south when a friend or relative stops by and gets in their ear about how they should have hired so-in-so and how they over paid for x y and z. That really lights a fire under their ass, and they head straight for the keyboard to write a real nasty email.

Then when things are done and the realize how nice everything is they settle down and all is well in the world and they all live happily ever after.

The big problem is you average fat-headed nail bender will get his nose all bent out of shape when Mr. and Mrs. Smith start nit-picking him when their stress levels are at their max.

The best thing to do is have a quiet heart-to-heart to calm them the fvck down and get the god damn job done, get paid and get the fvck out.
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:11 AM   #7
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Re: Client Issues


"Didn't work through the weekend to fix it"....was it life-threatening or disruptive to the functions of the rest of the house? One has to use judgment and communicate how and when it will be handled. A bit of empathy and explanation that the repair is a priority goes a long way (and that you'll get someone on it first thing Monday, when suppliers are open).

Btw, even emergency room docs go home when their shifts are done.
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Old 06-06-2017, 12:23 PM   #8
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Re: Client Issues


Really, the important thing is for you to keep being the professional. You hit your schedule, even with the sewer issue thrown in, so you had to work more to hit it.

For emergencies I'll have someone who is geared to emergency service deal with it. They usually have all the necessary parts and pieces in their truck. Non emergencies are dealt with when supply places are open.
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Old 06-06-2017, 02:48 PM   #9
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Re: Client Issues


Thanks everyone for your suggestions and input! Really appreciated.
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Old 06-06-2017, 03:34 PM   #10
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Re: Client Issues


Three things could have saved you some headaches...
1. If you are fabricating the cabinets, do not start the job until they are ready... almost always leads to delays for a variety of reasons (i.e. - tops, backsplash, undercab lighting, plumbing, inspections if any, etc.) and you have to reschedule everything along the way to accommodate for the domino effect of starting the job with the cabs unfinished. Add to it, finishing new cabs onsite takes much more time (costing YOU more money and loss of profit), has the potential for mishaps and any dings by the customer on the uncured finish will be expected to be fixed by the customer on your dime (and can potentially cause even more issues with a customer who is jonesing to find fault)

2. No-one begrudges someone getting married and going on their honeymoon EXCEPT right in the middle of a renovation... if you don't have the guys to run it while you're gone, you would have just been better off starting the job onsite when you returned.

3. You should have in essence ignored the jerks BS texts on your wedding day, and just sent a reminder text along the lines of "While we always try to keep the lines of communication open with our valued customers, just a reminder, and as discussed previously, today is our wedding day with our honeymoon following, returning to your project on XX date. We will be happy to address any concerns you have at that time..."


And then FORGET him and ENJOY your nuptials and honeymoon after giving him the courtesy of the reminder...

Going forward with the project, and considering their apparent selective memory and previous comments, document everything, any discussions are followed up with an email or text repeating your understanding of the conversation so it eliminates any miscommunications...

Congrat's on your wedding... hope it was a memorable honeymoon...
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:44 PM   #11
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Re: Client Issues


ah the life of a contractor, have the client texting whatever on the day you are getting married of all things.. childbirth probably wouldn't stop their text either, I mean come on the walls need a second coat!

hard to say other than that, without seeing the job and how you communicated with them. I agree with the above that people just get stressed out during a reno. I think if you go back and make sure a nice job is done with the finishing, they will remember that more than the fact that you didn't interrupt your wedding to paint their cabinets.

One thing I keep in mind is that five years from now, they probably won't care that you didn't drop everything to repair their sewer pipe. They will notice and remember all the small details, and if they are done well or weren't. That is the mentality I try to have, important to finish all the details and leave a nice job, IMO.
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Old 06-06-2017, 08:51 PM   #12
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Re: Client Issues


He should have rescheduled the wedding and honeymoon due to the project set-backs.
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Old 06-06-2017, 09:16 PM   #13
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Re: Client Issues


Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJames View Post
He should have rescheduled the wedding and honeymoon due to the project set-backs.
If he had done that, then the customer would have said, "Oh, there's no need to do that". Sometimes you just can't win.

I would have ignores the texts and waited a few days and sent a curt to the point message about how you are enjoying your wedding and you will see them when you return.

When my kid was born I had told my customer I was taking a few days off. I was even working in their project when I got the call. I packed up, told them I would see them in a few days. The day after, I got a call wondering why I wasn't working. I went in the next day. Looking back, I should have told them to stick it and I'll see them when I see them.

It was siding, not like it really mattered if it was completed. Looking back more, I don't remember thier names or much about them. They don't matter, your wedding and new family is what matters.

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Old 06-06-2017, 09:20 PM   #14
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Re: Client Issues


This reminds me of the folks who act like they're doing YOU a favor by allowing you to work through the weekend on their project. So nice of them.
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Old 06-07-2017, 12:39 AM   #15
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Re: Client Issues


I've had some that expect it.. umm no, been there done that, life is short.. I need my personal time...
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Old 06-07-2017, 12:48 AM   #16
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Re: Client Issues


Sewer line was broken for five years, but its discovery necessitates around the clock repair?

Sorry Charlie. Grow up.


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Old 06-07-2017, 12:53 PM   #17
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Re: Client Issues


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mordekyle View Post
Sewer line was broken for five years, but its discovery necessitates around the clock repair?

Sorry Charlie. Grow up.


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He should have just shown him what the difference in the bill for working double-time on the weekend would have been and remind him he was doing him a favor...

That should have cooled his jet, but if he wants to get it done quicker going forward, he's happy to work through the weekend going forward at double-time...

Last edited by KAP; 06-07-2017 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 07-28-2017, 01:15 PM   #18
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Re: Client Issues


I agree with few comments from above, that stopping work for week and a half was not a good idea even if you've warned the client before starting the project. It would be better to plan this client before or after your honeymoon...

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