Perhaps it's because I've had to be in contact with an abnormally high number of professionals and tradesmen lately, but I confess that I'm not terrifically impressed by the overall level of service, professional demeanor, and quality of work that seems prevalent these days. Here are a few examples:
~Take the loggers hired to fell some large trees (over 120 feet) for us and several neighbors. They've started work at 7 am for weeks, blasting their tractor engines and chain saws, and shaking house foundations when the behemoths fall. The neighbors all politely asked them not to start at that hour out of respect for other neighbors who don't get up at the crack of dawn. Their response? "We have to work before it gets hot." (on days that barely got into the 50's!!) Then the would stop by 8 or 9 and they all suddenly disappear, leaving a mess. Theoretically, they will come back and clean up at some point, but I'm not holding my breath. Sigh.
~And what about the newspaper that I haven't subscribed to since December? I ALWAYS pay in advance for my subscription (for a whole year!). . .I don't pay monthly as I go. Yet I have logged over 120 incoming phone calls from this paper, telling me that I owe them money. Each time they call, I politely explain that I have paid in advance, and have faxed the receipt a billion times to prove it, then get told that it's all taken care of, only to be called the next day with the same issue. I have spoken to supervisors, and supervisors of supervisors, all of whom admit they're in the wrong and say it's all taken care of. But, of course, it's not. They'll surely call again.
~Then there's my most recent frustration. I need a professional logo designed and sent out an RFP (request for proposal) to firms with VERY detailed instructions as to what I'm looking for. From the incoming (enthusiastic) proposals, I selected two firms and eagerly awaited their initial concepts. One firm, it turns out, after promising they understood exactly what I was looking for and could deliver, suddenly decided to mention that they had no idea what half the terms I listed in my remit meant (pioneer, chic, homesteading, etc.). I asked why they had said that they understood what we were after in their proposal. Their response? "Because we wanted to get the job!"
The second firm was supposed to have sent (as stated in their proposal) "5-6 initial concepts from different designers" by yesterday. At 10:44 PM (!), after multiple emails asking what was going on, I finally received one concept from one designer that had almost no bearing on the requirements we listed. Double sigh.
There are more examples, but I think those are quite enough to explain why I am bewildered at the moment. What has happened to professional honesty and integrity? Whatever happened to not over-promising what you can't deliver? Whatever happened to common courtesy?
I. Just. Don't. Get. It.
I was under the impression that people are supposed to be vying for customers these days. Guess I was wrong. But, on the off chance that you want to set yourself apart from your competition and, perhaps, earn some repeat customers, here's my short list of things you might want to keep in mind:
- Don't promise what you can't deliver
- What you do promise, DO!
- Communicate well and often
- Think of how whatever you do affects other people and do your best to minimize any negative impacts
- Be pleasant (people who are nice to be around are much more desirable to work with on any kind of project!)
- Go above and beyond (the smallest gesture outside of the job's formal requirements will speak volumes and set you apart with customers!)
- Finish on time, on budget, and with the job done as promised (or better!)