Customer service at 8.45am — it’ll go a long way!

Terry Sage of Trades Coaching New Zealand

I recently arrived back from the UK on a Monday morning at 4.30am. Having walked around Devon and London in a mini heatwave of 34° and stepping out of Auckland International Airport into 5° was a bit of a wake-up call, let me tell you.

The shorts, tee shirt and beach shoes did not help much either — what was I thinking? Then came the drive home near Whangarei, in the dark, through the morning Auckland traffic after being awake for 39 hours.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we had a fantastic trip. But at this point, the thought of “is it really worth all this?” flashed across the grey matter, especially when you hit a traffic jam at 7.45am in Warkworth. Really, what has happened to that place?

“Wake up kids we are home,” we said as we turned into our road — or what should have been our road.

Let me paint you a picture of our little spot of paradise. Tutukaka — on the coast, a no-exit road so no traffic whatsoever, views of the harbour one way and the deep blue pacific the other, quiet except for the birds and insects, the low hum of a boat moving out of the harbour entrance.

Got it? We live in a great place, and the perfect place to come home to and get over 39 hours of non-stop travel.

At 8.45am on this particular Monday morning we can’t even see the house, can’t get close enough to get to the drive, and what’s all that noise?

This is possibly a slight stretch of the truth but, hey, after 39 hours of no sleep hallucinations are acceptable.

There is now a building site opposite my place, a new house going up, something that has been on the cards for the past nine years but never exploited, and there’s a floor and walls and a roof (impressive after only three weeks).

But that’s not the issue here. It’s the eight cars parked in a road an inch wider than two cars side by side, it’s the full rugby team wearing stubbies and tool belts (maybe not a full team, but enough for the scrum) and it’s the four radios competing for the number one billboard spot as they were all on different stations.

I can see you sitting there saying “AND?” Yes, I can hear it now, right across the land.

Yes, a builder has to build, they have to drive to the site, they have to be able to park the ute, they need music to make the day go faster and, of course, there will be a gang of them there.

I get all this, really I do —remember I was one of you once. But at 8.45am after 39 hours, and not going home to my peaceful paradise it was a kick in the big ones, believe me.

What could have made it different? To be honest, the way I felt, absolutely nothing — unless maybe Jessica Alba being there to welcome me and explain what was happening (hallucinating again, sorry).

My whole point here is the poor builder gets a bad rap for trying to do his or her job. Neighbours hate you without even knowing you. You get the blame for things that can, in no way, be your doing — the hairline crack that appeared since you were next door, the dying plant 35.3 metres away — I know, you have heard them all.

My other point is sometimes you don’t do yourselves any favours either. Customer service is an absolute must in every business, and construction is no exception.

To keep your customer happy you also need to keep the neighbouring hoards happy too. My advice is to knock on their doors, have a coffee with them, explain what might happen and for how long, give them a number to call just in case, explain the parking issues, the size of the gang, the start times blah blah blah.

Trust me, it will go a long way, and they are all prospective future clients. And your client will love you even more.

Now, we are down to one radio, the gang is getting smaller, parking is managed and paradise has nearly been restored (once the jetlag has gone).

The honest truth? Tom and the scrum are a good bunch of lads, and just want to get on with the job at hand.

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