I remember when I started my business 2 1/2 years ago it was with a commitment to integrity and reliability at all times.
My observation of some tradesmen I had dealt with over the last few years was that they turned up late, did a pretty average job, and then didn’t come back to fix issues that weren’t done properly. I was fairly convinced that just being polite, punctual, reliable and honest I could get a fair bit of business.
I think that approach has served me well – but even if it hasn’t got me any more work I can sleep well at night knowing that I have done the right thing by people.
However this week was shocker for small warranty issues, difficult people and a couple of perplexing jobs. For a while Phys Teaching started looking good again…
Interestingly I have had very few warranty issues over the time I have been working, but this week they landed! There was a leaky pipe (my mistake) , a sticky sprinkler, a broken sprinkler (just bad luck) and a frozen controller display – easy fix but pain in the butt to get there. All pretty small issues but then there was the Balga job…
I quoted this job just after getting back from holidays and because I was keen to pick up work I was happy to do it at a low price. However it took twice as long as I thought and has given me and the owner grief ever since. I finished the job late in the day pretty exhausted after having some wiring issues – but when I left all was working well.
Then a controller showed an error message. I managed to talk the owner thru the fix over the phone. But it did it again just after he had laid his turf… on a Sunday afternoon… so I hopped in the car drove down and changed it over. All my wiring was correct so it could only be the controller. And the new one worked fine, until yesterday… then it started misbehaving as well.
It was holding one solenoid open permanently meaning the 2 stations would come on together. Of course this was the unit where the solenoids were buried under the newly laid brick paving… In between getting this message I got another to tell me that one of the other controllers was playing up again and showing error messages.
I have never had this happen before so as well as being embarassing and making me look pretty incompetent it was also unbelievably frustrating!
Saturday is normally my day off but today I hopped in the car and drove back to Balga – an 80km round trip – to sort this once and for all. I decided I wasn’t going home till it was all fixed. I replaced 2 controllers just to be safe and went to check the problem with the solenoids.
It seemed that the controller was holding one valve open when it shouldn’t have, but oddly when I put another new controller on it the whole thing righted itself. Fortunately the owner was there to watch me and realised that the problem wasn’t at my end, but must be in his own electrics possibly frying the controllers or making them play up.
We agreed that I would leave him to get an electrician to resolve the issues and I wouldn’t charge him for my time, but neither would I go back to Balga again… ever…ever…
The stress of this job was compounded by an angry customer earlier in the week who felt I had done a dodgy job of laying his turf. He told me there were ‘massive 2 inch gaps’ between the rolls and I was going to need to meet him there to sort it out. It was right at the start of a busy day and it immediately raised my stress levels further.
I didn’t remember it like that at all, in fact I think I would have noticed 2 inch gaps! But he was pretty convincing so I figured I must have turned up drunk that day and made a real mess. However when I got there it was exactly as I remembered it – a very neat job with a few very small gaps where the lawn wasn’t cut quite right.
It got a tad complicated as he argued that it was ‘miles apart’, but the lawn we were looking at simply wasn’t. I thought I was going mad and my diplomacy was close to expiration. When I encounter a situation like this my approach is to ask the customer to tell me what they want and I will simply do it – so long as it is reasonable.
He couldn’t tell me what he wanted… and agreed we might just have to leave it and let it grow. I smiled politely and went home just relieved to be free of it.
I’m hoping next week is a little easier.
And if you’re read this far then you’d realise this post was much more for my benefit than yours!