Have you all seen an increase in the amount of emails, phone calls and texts pertaining to a job in the last few years?
Designers and architects can't seem to give all the info upon a timely manner in my case. The consequence is a lot of time spent emailing, drawing revisions etc. I've compiled a check list of questions for the designer and architects to hasten decisions. Anyone else have this problem?
I encourage emails.
I ask my customers to send me a lot of them.
I tell them I would rather have 100 emails each with their own topic than 2 or 3 in rambling paragraph format.
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.
We're not playing chess with our customers. We are partnering with them on their project.
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;
1. many people today are so harried by the speed of daily life that their attention spans are short and they rarely pay attention and forget what was discussed.
2. texting has replaced conversation.
3. many clients text or email either early in morning or super late at night when they are free from daytime obligations.
4. some clients are so nervous that a project wont go right unless they micro manage everything. if they have an office job or work from home they just shoot off a text as things come to their minds. they dont understand that if you are driving most of the day seeing clients in a 100 mile radius that you cannot answer immediately.
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