A good friend of my wife should be relaxing in her new home today.
In fact, she should have spent Christmas in it.
So what kept her out? The weather? Flooding? Power cuts?
None of the above, I’m afraid, but something far more simple and totally avoidable.
She was let down by the Tradesmen (and they were all men, as it happens) who promised her something when they took on the job that they would not be able to deliver.
They promised her she would have her carpet, or her kitchen worktop, or her boiler (yes, it was all three with different firms) fitted and ready for her by Christmas.
As is usual in these cases, slipping dates were accompanied by assurances that all would be well. By the time she was being told in a series of unhelpful conversations, that the goods would not be supplied or ready for her required moving-in date, it was too late to arrange an alternative and in two of the cases, money had already changed hands.
It is this sort of nonsense that gives all Trades a bad name. Yet it is the most avoidable problem.
The best Trades will tell a customer they can do the work, but that they are busy and specify a realistic timetable. Most of them find that makes them more, rather than less, attractive when they are quoting for business. There’s a lot of truth in the saying people used to use when I was growing up in the West Country – “Never hire the Ploughman who can come tomorrow.” Most people realise there is a reason somebody has a full diary. It’s because they are in demand. People are in demand because they are good at what they do.
At SuperSkills, one of the lessons we drum into people when they are starting out in the world of self-employment is that they must always be straight with the customer about expected time on site and delivery dates.
As the construction sector starts to climb out of recession and people get more enquiries to deal with, I hope the bad practices of the past will be forgotten and people will not make promises with no intention of keeping to them.
So as we go into 2014, please join us and encourage a new practice – “Be Straight With The Date”