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Emails upon emails5/15
Have you all seen an increase in the amount of emails, phone calls and texts pertaining to a job in the last few years?
I encourage emails.
I have a protocol for communicating.
Step 1 is to write down all of my concerns about anything. I tend to write like a lawyer so after the first version is drafted I go through and friendly everything up. The purpose of this email to clearly state the things I am concerned about or decisions that have been made. It is unambiguous and, as I said, very friendly.
Step 2 is to pick up the phone and chat them up about the email I just sent. This is an opportunity to put a favorable spin on anything under consideration and helps to assuage any concerns anybody has.
The reason for this sequence is that I want my concerns stipulated in writing. If you try to resolve everything starting on the phone and then develop a need to start producing documentation things can turn adversarial when that wasn't ever necessary.
If I have to get a variety of questions answered I will lead in with something like:
"We still have a half-dozen outstanding questions:" I will then list the questions with a number in front of them: For example: 1) Who is furnishing delivery? 2) Who is the contact person on the jobsite? 3) When will the jobsite be ready for measurements?
The numbering is important because it produces a checklist. It's easy to see that we still need an answer for question 5 & 7. Parsing that out of a rambling paragraph is much harder.
Lastly I think back to one of the most influential customers I ever had. This was the man who made me realize that nuance was important and taught me how to get there. One day he asked why something went sideways so I pointed to the documentation. He said "I think you have done a great job of documentation.......but you failed to communicate!"
That was not lost on me.
I like e-mails, and try to steer all communications to that format.
First, they are a great, easy to find record of what was said, by whom, when. Secondly, I have significant hearing loss and cannot tolerate hearing aids in the shop, where I am in and out of 10 times a day. Telephone conversations are iffy at best, and I do not like asking people to repeat/yell. I have a hearing boost phone, but it just gets less clear as it gets louder.
I have a predictable set of questions that I need to get answers to and a few stock topics I cover. Most are in auto-text, and easy to compose and send.
I often make assumptions on what I think is the best way to do things, and generate specifications and accurate pricing based upon the specs. Add in a few adds and deletes, and send it off.
This way I control it all. No one knows how to specify doors, or stair parts, or any of the things we make, so if I do it, I cover everything and then get paid for it too. In 40 plus years, I have seen accurate, meaningful door specs only once. And in that one the idiot builder told me to change the heights of 7 paired 20 light doors. None of them fit, and they all had to be remade, at his expense.
I actually asked the idiot builder to send me an e-mail telling me to change the doors, but he would not do it. Claimed if I could not take the info by phone, then I had a problem. I sent him and his boss 3 emails, all asking for a response. The fourth one said that I sent the previous e-mails, verbally was told there would be no response, and that I was going to proceed on their verbal word only. They did try to refuse payment, but paid before the lawyers got involved due to the clear trail the emails left.
I think this increase is due to several factors;