Everything That Could Go Wrong Did Go Wrong. But We Didn’t Rest Until We Made Things Better Than Right.
BY JOHN KOLBASKA, OWNER
The job was cursed, I tell you. Because everything that could go wrong did go wrong. And then some.
My crew and I are human, so we make the occasional mistake on a job. But those mistakes are always small, few and far between, and easily fixable.
But on THIS particular project, it was disaster after disaster after disaster—every single one our fault.
Here’s the story (cue Benny Hill music)…
We had a customer from Staten Island who ordered 12 replacement windows. I put one of my lead installers—typically a reliable and meticulous guy—on the job.
So far, so good.
My installer did the replacement. He said the job went well. So I was under the impression everything was great and the customer was satisfied.
Later that week, I did my final walk through on the project. I noticed some of the windows were bowing and that the corners of the screens weren’t lying flat on the sill.
At The Men With Tools, everyone is accountable for their work. So I sent the same installer back to fix the job.
The installer went out and inspected the windows. He claimed the issue was a product defect and not installation-related. He then did some “adjustments” to “fix” the problem.
Now everything was great… or so I thought. Because the customer called me the next day and said the windows were STILL bowing.
This is when my blood pressure started to spike. I couldn’t believe my installer would not only NOT fix the problem, but lie to my face about it. (He’s lying to someone else’s face at a different company now.)
The next day, I went to the customer’s home with some of my crew. I immediately saw the windows that were having problems were not installed straight. This means the original installer didn’t follow Step 25 (ensuring the window openings are square, level, and plumb) of our 60-Point Window Installation Process. Ninety-nine times out of 100, windows openings are straight when we inspect them. So the original installer assumed THIS customer’s window openings were straight and skipped the step.
It just so happens that this project was the one out of 100 exception.
It takes a lot of effort to undo someone else’s work, but we had no choice. We removed the crooked windows, fixed the openings, and made 150% sure the windows were installed perfectly straight.
Mission (finally) accomplished. Except…
When we removed and reinstalled the windows, we left a few small black scuffs on two of them.
The scuffs were maybe half an inch. But they were there, and that was all that mattered. I’m not the kind of contractor who leaves things only 99.9% right.
I ordered two fresh windows for the customer and tossed the old ones. I also threw in fresh, fully painted mouldings for free. It was the least I could do.
After my crew installed the new windows with the beautiful moulding, the customer called me again.
“John,” he said. “The moulding looks fantastic. But now my blinds don’t fit because of it.”
Maybe I accidentally huffed too many paint fumes the day before. Maybe I was distracted by the daily dose of chaos that comes with having three young children. Maybe I just didn’t have my coffee that morning. Whatever the reason, I made what was beyond a rookie mistake. (I’m making myself sound really bad here, aren’t I?)
I felt awful. Just awful. So I told the customer to buy some new blinds that fit, and I’d immediately pay him back. A day later, he purchased new blinds, and I cut him a check for $370.
FINALLY, everything was right. The customer was happy. But I still felt… wrong.
We messed up this customer’s window replacement six ways from Sunday—times 10. That was absolutely unacceptable. Period.
I had to set things right. So I surprised the customer with a $150 gift card and told him to take his wife out for a nice night.
He couldn’t believe it. He loved the free money (naturally). But more than that, he loved the gesture and how dead-set I was on making sure he was happy.
This was hands-down the worst project we’ve ever done. It was a pile-up of avoidable disasters. But we took the necessary steps to ensure it NEVER happens again.
The bottom line is that we ALWAYS hold ourselves responsible and will never leave you in the lurch. That’s not who we are, and it’s not what we stand for. It’s why we provide a “Break Your Glass, Get A Pass” Lifetime Warranty. It’s why I perform a final walk through. It’s why we perform a One-Year Anniversary Inspection of your project to make sure everything is still perfect. And it’s why we don’t rest until you are completely utterly, totally satisfied.
That’s a promise.
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