Installments: Making the most of it

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by Dave Stafford

It was Monday morning in July, and I was already having an off day. So, when the phone rang and my client started screaming at me about job completion, all I could think was, “I just wish he’d shut up. It’s making my head hurt.” So I said, “Jerry, I can’t wave my magic wand through the phone, so gimme a break and calm down.”

Apparently, that was the wrong thing to say since Jerry uttered a few more expletives and slammed the phone down. After a few deep breaths and three more aspirin, I pulled the project file and called Jerry back. Now he wouldn’t take my call. Perhaps he had already solved the problem? Maybe I could just go on with my day. He’s a screamer anyway and overreacts. Yep, things are fine now.

So, I went on with my day, right up until I got a call from Marvin, my ace installer. He said Jerry was going to bring in another crew to finish the job, “since you all can’t handle it,” in Jerry’s words. It seems that he didn’t understand the amount of confusion created by his own inept job superintendent and the work of other trades on our production. This was slowing our installation progress down to a crawl. Jerry also felt that our crew didn’t have enough personnel and was moving too slowly. He didn’t like my attitude. I put another call in to Jerry, bracing myself for his reaction. I didn’t have any luck getting him on the phone, so I drove out to the job site.

Once Jerry spotted me, he started in again about getting the job done on time. I finally held up my hand to stop his tirade and said, “Jerry, I want to apologize for my comment this morning. I should have been listening better. The last thing we want is to delay job completion.

Here’s the thing, though, I really need your help. OK?”

He finally calmed down and asked, “What do you mean?”

So I explained, “You have so many trades on the job trying to get finished that they’re keeping us from doing our job. They’re walking through floor patch and adhesive before it’s even dry. We are unable to get a clean area to work. Why don’t we come back on Thursday morning with a larger crew and give you and Chuck (the job superintendent) time to complete the areas? This way we can get back on schedule and still finish on time. Fair enough?

“To make sure we do our best for you, Jerry, I’ll come out here Wednesday after- noon and walk the job with Chuck and make sure everything is ready. I don’t want to disappoint you again. Would you also be available?” Jerry responded, “We’ll be ready. You just show up on Thursday morning with that bigger crew, and I’m not paying you any more money either.” Like I was expecting extra money anyway.

That’s what we did. I added a small crew to Marvin’s crew for this job to speed things up. Jerry apparently helped Chuck with scheduling the other trades and almost everything was ready for us on Thursday. Even though I had been there Wednesday afternoon, I accompanied the crew to the job site on Thursday to let Jerry see I was personally involved. We had no more problems with him and got the job done on time and signed off.

If you’ve ever had a day like mine, or a client like Jerry, you can relate. I really paid for my lapse in attitude and off-the-cuff comment about the magic wand. “Aggravating people teaches us patience and will force us to go the extra mile.”

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