Even with super motivated employees I viewed every job as a potential minefield! Of course, if our company scratched/ broke/ damaged something we covered it. (We did try to learn from it though by filling out a CCF Sheet!)
However, what drove me absolutely nuts was when my company was blamed for the customer’s pre-existing problem(s)! So were my clients evil people plotting to stick me with their problems? Occasionally- YES!
But usually they (and I) were innocent victims of a weird psychological phenomenon I’ve dubbed…
“Heightened Awareness Syndrome”! (HAS)
You see, customers don’t really, truly examine their possessions till after an “event”. (Which includes your cleaning or restoration services!) So a previously unnoticed scratch, rip, ding, crack, damage etc. becomes the fault of the last person who touched it! And too often that is… your company! Here are five ways to overcome HAS:
1. Pre-interview: Find out what your clients already recognize as a pre-existing problem. Just say, “Would you show me any areas of special concern?” And always take Immediate Action on their concerns.
2. Pre-analyze: When doing your pre-job “tour” with the client subtly call attention to pre-existing problems by offering solutions. “I see your roll top desk has been scratched here. Have you tried some scratch cover on that?”
3. Pre-qualify: This one is simple: COVER YOUR BUTT! “Now , Mrs. Jones, I see you have some existing moisture stains on this sofa decking. We’ll work on them but I’m making a note on your Work Order that the stains may not be completely removed.”
4. Pre-inventory: Especially on restoration losses you must thoroughly document pre-existing damage. So carefully examine each item during your “tour” with the Insured. By taking photos/video and noting down your customer’s worries/comments you will be displaying the essential “attitude of care and concern” AND protecting yourself.
5. Post-qualify: On your after-the-job walk-through make a “preemptive strike” by showing your client what didn’t come out perfectly.
One of my early business mentors told me 40 years ago: “Steve, if you see it and point it out to your client before you do the job it is THEIR problem. If they discover it after you finish it is now YOUR problem!” And so it is!