I was reminded of a basic, fundamental aspect of professionalism recently. I think this applies to any line of service work, no matter what the industry or client.
I had a bad experience this weekend with a contractor who was supposed to come to our house and do some work on some trees. They were supposed to show up at an appointed time, but didn’t. I called 45 minutes later, and I was told that they were at another job site, and would call back in a couple hours. They didn’t. It was basically radio silence all day long.
By the time I eventually did hear from the contractor, I had already reached out to another arborist to do the work instead.
The original contractor told me that he had some equipment issues, and was under a tight deadline on another, harder, and decidedly better paying job. That’s fine - I get it. Life happens, priorities shift. But here’s the thing - I didn’t know any of that.
As a customer, I can deal with shifting time frames, or random accidents. Sure, I might be grumpy, but I at least know what’s going on. As a customer, what I can’t deal with is no communication.
I think this is a common point of view to any client, purchasing any service, from any kind of contractor.
So, keep these things in mind:
- Step 1: Show up. When you say you will.
- Step 2: If you can’t, for whatever reason, tell the client. Communicate. Call, text, email - whatever. Do all three. They might be mad, yes, but if they know what is going on you at least can manage the situation.
I like to think that in my line of work, where I’m the contractor, I do a better job of keeping the client in the loop. I like to think that I err on the side of over-communicating. Even if that is true, I was on the wrong side of a contractor communication break down, so the importance of communicating was heavily reinforced.