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Customer Service and the Irish Builder

Customer Service and the Irish Builder

Do you remember that episode of “Faulty Towers” where
Basil leaves a builder alone to do a renovation? When he
returns, he finds a wall where a door used to be. Well, we
had a builder sort of along those lines.

Our business was growing and we needed to build a new
studio. It was not a huge job, in fact we could have done it
ourselves, but we had done so much of that over the years,
we just did not want to go there. Plus, our time was better
spent on running the business.

The story is just to make you think about your customer service. It’s so

We’ll name our builder Paddy. We had known Paddy for a
number of years through an associate, and knew he was a bit
of a jack of all trades. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad?
I’ve seen good and bad work from those sorts of people
before. I guess its luck of the draw.

Paddy came in to have a look at the premises and discuss
what needed to be done. Best of all, he was willing to work
on a small hourly rate and charge cost for the materials. He
would do the job on the weekend.

Building a studio is slightly more complex than building a
standard room. One aspect is sound proofing. But there’s not
a lot to it. The walls just have insulation and double
plaster sheeting. The plaster sheeting is a special kind, which is thicker and
denser. It’s bit harder to work with, but not impossible.

So we went home on Friday evening, safe in the thought that
Paddy would take care of everything. We would return on
Monday with our new room in place. Then all we had to do was
paint and line some walls. Easy.

My business partner, Glenn, had decided to make a trip in on
Saturday afternoon to check on the progress. You see, Paddy
had expected to be finished by about 3pm on Saturday, so
Glenn figured he arrive for the final section. Actually, he
really saw the first section. Paddy was not having a good

Paddy had brought his son along to help, but even with the
extra muscle, Paddy was finding the going tough. When Glenn
arrived, he had only just put up the first wall! Glenn hung
around for a while to double check that he was going to be
OK, then left. Paddy explained that he felt he’d have it
done by Sunday afternoon….

So there we were on Monday morning, still with one wall to
be constructed. OK, I know what you’re thinking, “Why did
you let this guy start in the first place?” Well, how many
horror stories have you heard about building gone wrong?
We’re just another in the line. Even if you hire an
excellent builder, sometimes they still get it wrong. Even
you hire an excellent accountant, lawyer, doctor, sound
engineer… do I make my point?

Paddy’s building skills were actually quite good. The finish
of the walls was fine; he just had a time problem. He always
thought it would take X, when it was really going to take Y.

We did end up helping him finish, which did not take long. He
did cost us a little more and we were very happy with the
final result. But, we probably could have had a ‘stress free
weekend’ had we hired a good builder, or maybe not. Who