Retailer2Retailer: The value of specificity

January 09, 2017

January 2/9, 2017: Volume 31, Number 15

By Scott Perron

Scott Perron

Scott Perron

In 2017 it will be 29 years since I entered this industry, where it has been my wish to remain a student of the game, with the goal of remaining relevant. Our retail company prides itself on under promising and over delivering. This past month, an exchange between a client and me prompted this article in the hopes of teaching all dealers how we might become one step better at our craft.

Mrs. M came to us via a referral from previous clients and through online comments regarding our customer service and professionalism. She was experiencing challenging issues with an engineered wood floor she purchased from a large retailer of hardwood. When I inspected the floor the product—which was engineered Brazilian cherry—was peaking, cupping and separating. Once a moisture test was performed all parties realized the relative humidity (RH) was beyond what any floor or adhesive could withstand without proper preparation. Mrs. M was very precise at the time of our meeting with dates, pictures and communications documenting the issues. She later shared that her career included a high-level executive position with a major retailer that demanded such detail on a daily basis.

Several months went by and Mrs. M reached out again to contract us to replace the flooring at her expense, which was in excess of $20,000 to remove, apply a moisture mitigation system and re-install. She selected a Brazilian koa (tigerwood) floor, which has lots of character, color variance and, as any natural product possesses, no two boards that are alike.

As our men were finishing the trim work she and Mr. M visited my office where she voiced her concerns about the process and used the word “specificity” as a stern suggestion for items we need to include when speaking with customers about projects. She cited several items that were disturbing to her so I headed to the house.

When I arrived at the site our men were installing trim and finalizing the installation. The floor was absolutely breathtaking and the workmanship was outstanding. Mrs. M walked me through the project and made her concerns clear.

The major concern was the flooring was not as she pictured it with many more beige pieces versus orange than she anticipated, and the trim we used was not the same profile as in the other rooms. Finally, she was disappointed that although we used a local crew to perform a “dustless removal” of the previous flooring, some of the debris had made its way into a closet that may not have been properly covered during the process. Now, although many of you may feel these items should be a given on a project like this—based on the nature of wood and construction having its idiosyncrasies—the fact of the matter was the customer was not satisfied with the communication from our team.

Specificity. The quality of being specific means it is our responsibility to inform the customer verbally and in writing of the items that need to be expected during the process of having a project installed. We should not bury these disclaimers in small print on our invoices but instead be candid with the client and communicate effectively through the process with compassion, as these types of projects can be very unsettling.

Mrs. M, thank you for helping to make us better, which will only result in creating yet another level of differentiation between the best contractors and those who treat their customers as just a number or a dollar sign.

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