After 20 Years it Finally Happened...A BAD REVIEW!!!!!

I always new it would happen sooner or later. We’ve had challenging situations in the past and knew that in this era of social media it would only be a matter of time. But it didn’t make it any easier to take. We had a very difficult client who ended up leaving a very bad review. I would just like to say that this client received the same desire to please, the same dedication, and the same pursuit for excellence we have provided for all our other clients in the past two decades. The same clients who have either left great reviews, gave us gift cards or even hand written letters of a job well done.

This particular job started several years ago. We were very busy at the time and weren’t able to start the job as quickly as the client wanted, so they hired another party to install the “flooring” (it was actually graded for exterior application as a siding product). We were still hired to do the sanding and finishing work.

Mistake number one, this is where the problems started. The contractor that installed the floor was not a qualified hardwood installer and broke several major rules during the installation process. This left the floor unacceptable in our minds, but our client insured us that it was fine and actually enhanced the “beach” look they were going for. After explaining the differences we would now have to make to our sanding and finishing techniques, it was agreed that those limitations and a less consistent final result were acceptable to the client and we would not be held accountable if we could not perform to our usual standard. Mistake number two, we didn’t get this in writing.

A few months passed and we received a call from our client. They weren’t happy with the finishing work on some areas of the floor and there was now an area of bubbling happening right in the middle of their living room. I went out to take a look at the job and was quite happy with the results, considering what we had overcome to get it done as well as we had. The big issue was actually the bubbling spot (which I’m positive was created by a wet furniture blanket or something another trade had used to protect the floor from their tools and equipment). Our client was actually alright with the other inadequacies, if we could fix the bubbling problem.

Mistake number three, we agreed to attempt a repair of the bubbling area. This didn’t blend in as well as I had hoped. It did fix the bubbling spot, but replaced it with a colour match problem. This spot that wasn’t created by anything we had done, now had become our problem.

This was a large job with multiple levels and stairs. Our offer to redo the entire room, stopping at the doorways to other areas was not accepted. Our client felt that we should redo the entire home, upstairs and down, including the stairs. That was going to cost a fortune… There is much more to this story, including a court battle, multiple other trades and a poor flooring inspector. I won’t get into that here.

At the end of the day, after all the dust has settled, I feel that maybe I should have bowed to the will of the client and performed tens of thousands of dollars worth of work to avoid the ensuing battle and this one bad review.

We have paid for our mistakes financially with the expense of legal representation and the wasted cost and time of trying to satisfy a client that we should have stopped the second we were presented with an inadequate floor to work on. We have also paid with our reputation and the image of our company being dragged through the mud by a dissatisfied customer. I can honestly say I have learned a lot through this whole process. As a professional, it is foremost my responsibility to educate my clients and at times protect them from themselves. This situation will never happen to me again.

Compost

What is this you ask? It's compost! There are days in everyone's life when they wish they just hadn't come in to work that day. Today is one of those days.

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This is what can happen when a "do it yourselfer" installs a toilet without properly setting the wax seal between the toilet base and the sewer flange.

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Years of leaking mixed with particle board sandwiched between two layers of vinyl flooring = compost.

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New World

As I sit here at the computer uploading new content to my revised website, I can't help but wonder what challenges my Grandfather had bringing in work. He was a carpenter, old-school! I mean, hammers, chisels and hand planes. I remember as a boy marvelling at how strong he was. Even at the age he was on the tail end of his career, he had a grip of steel.

I still use one of his old table saws as a bevelling machine. I use it to ease the edge on cork floor tiles before they get installed. It floors me, (no pun intended) that with all the technology today, a small company like ours has to spend so much time struggling to be seen. Facebook, twitter, Instagram, linkedin, google and so on! In some ways I envy my Grandfather for the simplicity he enjoyed. But not the lack of indoor plumbing...

A moment of respect to all the old talent that has passed away, no longer able to teach the younger generation their long forgotten tricks.

Acclimation - What does it really mean?

I get people calling me all the time questioning why we didn't acclimate their hardwood flooring before we installed it. My simple answer is that it was already "acclimated" to their particular environment.

Acclimation in the hardwood flooring business actually stems from a time long ago when technology wasn't nearly as good as it is today, and the moisture content of the flooring was far less consistent. Back then the heating and air conditioning in homes was more basic as well. Acclimating the flooring to the home for a period of time was a way to mitigate the inconsistencies of the product and to prepare the wood for the environment it would be installed into.

Nowadays, the better kiln drying equipment of manufacturers, and quick shipping times means that most wood flooring products are actually pre-acclimated for the average North American market. This doesn't mean one can completely ignore the purpose of acclimation however. Every job site should be tested prior to delivering and installing any natural wood product to ensure the conditions at that time are the same as they will be during normal living conditions and acceptable for the wood floor being installed. As well, every batch of wood should also be checked prior to installation to insure that nothing unexpected has occurred, either in the manufacturing process or during the trip from the mill to the home.

Every hardwood flooring installer should have a minimum of three devices to check for moisture content. They should have a hygrometer to test the temperature and relative humidity of the air. They should also have a probe type and a scanning type moisture meter to check the moisture content in the wood flooring and the subfloor it is going to be installed on.

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By Appointment...?

OK, so it's quite fitting in this changing market that my first post be about changing our store hours to appointments only. First I'll give you a little background. Our retail store has been operating for over 5 years now. We've had extremely busy times and incredibly slow times. Lately we've noticed a trend for customers to research us online first, and then come in to the store to browse our products. With the downturn in the economy, the traffic in our shop has been a little sparse lately. We are a small custom shop, servicing mostly referral clients and doing a total of around 30-40 jobs per year. These can range from around a $1,000, 2 day projects all the way up to $50,000, month long jobs. The biggest expense we have right now is the time my wife spends waiting in the store for a potential customer to enter. There can be an entire week go by without anyone walking through the door.

So, My question to anyone reading this. Do you think an appointment only store with an online presence can function in todays flooring market?