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As you read ‘Who’s Minding the Store?’ you see a customer named PJ Nabors, a.k.a. Burly Man, slamming his hand on the front counter demanding satisfaction. He’s your typical do-it-yourselfer, which is to say a Jack-of-all-trades and master of     you get the rest. This happens on Derrick’s last day at The Design, Your Choice for Home Improvement’s Kearny Mesa branch store. He’s being transferred to the Encinitas branch location in north San Diego as the operations manager and hoped his last day would be a quiet one.

No such luck.

Derrick listens to Burly Man’s complaint with your typical empathetic patience, while retaliatory thoughts race through his mind. Yes, the more outrageous a customer’s complaint is, the crazier people see you. The crazier people see you, the less they want to help. No, this is not unreasonable. When a customer chooses to do-it-yourself more often than not it’s to save money versus experiencing the joy of remodeling your home. Any designer, installer, and homeowner having gone through a remodel will tell you there’s very little fun in the remodel business. What little fun you find goes out the window right quick as the weeks turn to months and you still haven’t got your dream bath or kitchen finished.

Think I’m exaggerating? I’ve seen the look in wives’ faces as they listen to their husband wheel-and-deal for better price discounts for more products they need to complete a project that has taken well over a year. They go through this hassle all for the sake of saving a buck. I have nothing against getting the most for your money. We all need to be careful how we spend, right? But how much is your time worth? How much is your lifestyle being turned upside down for a husband, friend, or neighbor to finish what they started in your home? I know people who start projects and 10 years later still haven’t finished them, all because they get in over their heads for the sake of saving a buck.

A remodel in your home, whether it be kitchen, bath, or office, or yard, is not something you should nickel-and-dime. You’re going to be living with this new design for many years to come and you may as well invest (not spend) wisely. And by wisely I mean get what you know will make you happy for a long time to come. Yes, I’m speaking from experience. I made the mistake of not investing wisely and should’ve listened to my wife, who wanted to do things in our kitchen differently. All I saw was the dollar amount for our new kitchen. It never occurred to me that the kitchen is the heart of the home.

Like Burly Man, I did some things on my own and hated every minute of it. The remodel dragged for months considering I had to work for a living and do the remodel on my own time, which made me agitated and irritable at home. Burley Man’s experience is not uncommon when you learn he’s complaining on not having enough products to complete his remodel and wants Derrick to authorize the company to foot the rest of the bill. We find this very ironic how do-it-yourselfers want all the credit for the finished look of their home, but when something goes wrong such as a delay, or the wrong measurement for amount of flooring or cabinet space, or anything else for that matter, the do-it-yourselfer has no trouble finger-pointing.

I say never declare, “I want SATISFACTION,” because in most cases you got what you paid for. A home improvement’s purpose is to sell a customer what they want and need. No one forces a customer to open their wallet or purse and hand over a credit card to make a purchase, the customer does this all on their own. And customers today are a lot more careful before making a purchase, so they’re not exactly the babe-in-the-woods they claim to be when something goes wrong.

When a customer is faced with an appliance or plumbing fixture that is no longer working as it should, or they find they’ve come up short on the amount of flooring they need to complete their remodel, stay calm. Appliances have a one year manufacturer’s warranty and chances are at your place of purchase you may buy extended warranties to cover any necessary work. Plumbing fixtures today are more reliable with ceramic disks in place of rubber washers in faucets, and plumbers offer competitive-pricing for labor making it worth your peace of mind to give them a call and take care of the problem.

Ordering the wrong amount of flooring for your project is another area for the do-it-yourselfer. As a homeowner you have the opportunity to pay a designer to order cabinets, flooring, fixtures, and arrange for an install. But if you pass on this to save money you may be asking for trouble you’re not going to like.

In Burly Man’s case he thinks The Design owes him for having brought so much business to them. This is a mistake. Businesses appreciate you, but you’re not doing them a favor, you’re making a purchase. You hold the responsibility for telling the salesperson how much flooring you need, or what size appliances you need to fit in existing cabinets, or if you need a 4” widespread faucet versus an 8” widespread faucet. The customer bears this responsibility because they chose to forego hiring a designer and installer to cover all their bases.

In ‘Who’s Minding the Store?’ you’ll read how Derrick handles this situation and it’s pretty much what you’ll find in any business unit where you chose to do-it-yourself. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be left standing in the wind. That’s right, there’s a bright side to this story. I merely wanted to explain a few facts first.

The way to get satisfaction is to stay away from finger-pointing. Mistakes happen. Sometimes it’s due to the customer’s miscalculation, sometimes it’s due to the salesperson. People will do that, making mistakes I mean. Instead of charging with a bazooka, visit the store with a smile. Thank the salesperson for their help and advice and let them know you’re faced with a dilemma. Explain the situation and ask how they may help you resolve it. In many cases the customer won’t have to spend any additional money to resolve their issue. If a part is needed to fix a faucet or get the appliance working right, you’d be surprised how willing stores and vendor manufacturers are to taking care of the customer. They want you to come back and buy more when you need to, and tell your family and friends about them too. In short, the store is already on your side, so it makes no sense to attack them with accusations of failing to meet your needs, especially when much of the responsibility is on the shoulders of the do-it-yourselfer.

In Burly Man’s case, additional costs come up, and the problem is further beset due to the flooring material he needs no longer being manufactured. It’s not something I wish on anyone, but it has happened and still does as do-it-yourselfers take on more than they can handle. I don’t want to spoil what happens to Burly Man, so you’ll have to find out by reading my latest novel in ‘Who’s Minding the Store?’

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