Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.—Michelangelo
Installations are often judged by their completeness. A great job fulfills the needs of the client, provides room for solutions to future needs, and is installed with expert care.
Nearly all of us strive toward making each install perfect. There is a sublime satisfaction in bringing a project to a close with an empty punch list, an organized room and a happy end user.
These jobs are our pride and joy, the ones we can jabber on endlessly about. We show them off in pictures like an overly proud parent, insisting folks ooh and ahh over just one more photo of a beautifully dressed rack.
Tell Tale Heart
While we may revel in the warm glow of the projects which were performed expertly, it’s the ones which we fouled up that linger the longest.
We’ve all had them, the one that just ran out of hand, the ones which never seem to end. These are the jobs that wake us up at 2 am with the cold sweats and a guilty stomach.
If we’re honest and take our reputations seriously these jobs can feel like the proverbial Tell Tale Heart. The infernal repetition and noise of the beasts beating heart inside your head convincing you that everyone you meet can hear it too.
How did we get here?
Aside from a few careless and reckless individuals we, as an industry, are highly motivated folks who do not shirk from taking ownership of our actions. Yet as result we are busy people who sometimes let the calendar get away from us. How often have you uttered the phrase, “What do you mean it’s July 1st? Didn’t we just start April!?”
As a project manager or business owner there is always an eye on finances. Will there be enough money next month to pay the staff, the rent and purchase the gear needed to complete the jobs underway? Our focus often is divided between the current jobs and landing/planning the next two or three.
When we make it all about the Benjamins, we can lose sight of the immediate necessities. It’s been said that most of us cannot be in this business for the money given the margins we must put up with. While we do spend an inordinate amount of time buried in the technology minutia: business is what we do.
As business is what we do, the first order is to step up and admit the problem. It’s another often turned phrase that “acceptance is the first step” toward any resolution. If we can accept the responsibility, regardless of blame, a solution is always possible.
When a project turns sour and must be fixed it is inevitably going to cost. This single fact is one of the largest factors in installations simply being pushed forward. Stop the bleeding, get out and move on, licking your wounds and counting blessings that you came out alive.
Survival is not the end game and this is what “getting out alive” from a project results in. Survival means just hanging on, a subsistence experience. Taking ownership and the burden it requires is where reputations are built and long-term success starts.
Once the issue or issues have been identified and a plan of attack prepared, approach the client owning the fault. Now make it right.