Managing Pesky Clients

      When clients are living in the home while cabinets are installed, sometimes they take a little too much interest in the work. In this thread, installers suggest tactful ways to deflect their attention eslewhere. October 22, 2005

I used to install prefab cabinets in new homes but now I work for a shop that does 100% remodels. I am uncomfortable with homeowners peeking over my shoulder while I work. I believe in customer service and pleasing the customer but I am finding that it is taking me too long to finish jobs due to the constant interruptions. The homeowners ask many questions and before you know it, itís time to go home and youíve gotten little accomplished. Sometimes the owner wants to help, but instead just gets in the way. What strategies have you installers used that were not offensive but yet made the customer leave you alone to concentrate on your work?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor A:
Sincerely tell them that you appreciate the company but that cabinet installations require uninterrupted concentration to do the best job and you plan to do your best for them. If they want to chat or quiz you, let them know you'll be happy to answer their questions when you have finished.

From contributor B:
I keep a .22 caliber Power driver in the tool box. When necessary, I get it out and load it with the hottest load in the tool box, excuse myself, and put on some ear protection. I then warn the client to be ready for the loud bang and they usually ignore the warning. I secure cleats to the floor where the base will fall. Four or five nails usually work fine. These are completely unnecessary I know - but after the first shot rings out in the kitchen I am left alone with my ear protection on all day. I canít hear them and they donít want to be near me.

From contributor C:
I cut up lots of scrap on my miter saw. Homeowners hate noise and dust.

From contributor J:
I switch from the radio to a CD and pop in something like Judas Priest or Metallica. If it turns out they like that kind of music, I go back to the radio and turn on National Public radio, loud. The key is to find something that causes them discomfort and then use it.

From contributor D:
My insurer doesn't allow homeowners to be in the work area with me.

From contributor E:
Whenever I find a customer peering over my shoulder during installs, I immediately mention my billing policy. I charge 10% extra if customer watches, and 50% extra if customer helps. That usually stops them in their tracks. If that doesn't work, then immediately upon setting up in the morning we start every power tool we own, all at the same time.

From contributor F:
I usually state that I have a limited number of brain cells to devote to this job and if some of them get side-tracked answering questions I can't guarantee the quality of my work. I also work with a set of Peltor radio headphones on because I don't like the noise and those give me a good reason to just ignore them, because I can't hear them!

From contributor G:
If it is the general contractor, I simply get rid of him. If it is the customer himself, just be honest with him.

From contributor H:
90% of the things installers think of as flaws, most people don't even notice. A general contractor I once worked for had a great move. He'd walk into the room, and when nobody was looking at him, he'd say "what happened over there?" Sure enough, any rookie on the job would turn and look right at the worst mistake made on the job.

There's also the theory of making sure you leave something blatantly wrong so the inspectors who aren't happy until they find problems will have something to focus on, like reversing the dishwasher panel so the other color shows. The homeowner comes in and freaks out that the wrong dishwasher was installed. You apologize, convince them that you'll take care of it as quickly as you can, and when they leave, you flip the panel. Perception cuts both ways.

From contributor I:
I was doing a kitchen recently where the homeowner had two small children. Every time I turned around she would be asking me questions. I showed up one morning with three tickets to the local movie matinee for her and her kids. She understood, and started to laugh. Situation handled.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Business

  • KnowledgeBase: Business: Project Management

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Installation

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2020 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article