Steve Faulkner - Distinctive Magic
24 Apr

What can a we learn from my builder?

Steve's house
This is something many of us can learn from.
Anybody who knows me will be aware that I am in the middle of having my house destroyed and rebuilt by builders in the way of a large extension.
Mandy began screening builders and getting a lot of quotes. (If you ever have building work done, get a LOT of quotes. Our’s went from £30’000 to £90’000!)
It was a very difficult decision and a massive one. Our home, which we had just purchased, is being considerably altered. Use the wrong people and the results would be horrible and maybe irreversible.
The obvious temptation was to go for the cheapest, you would think, especially as we are not exactly rich and money is a very large object. We all want a bargain, and our heads nearly sent us in this direction. But something wasn’t right. It was too cheap and we understood the extent of the work that would be carried out. We kept going back to one builder that came to see us-Leigh of Oakleigh Homes-and the one thing that we kept saying, when considering cheaper quotes, was ‘but we really like Leigh’. Now, we are not stupid and completely understand that ‘liking’ someone doesn’t mean they will do a good job. But then we started looking at the difference between Leigh and the many other builders who we had met. Most of which we ‘liked’. Basically we were trying to figure out why we liked him more. This is what it boiled down to-
(I am not on any kind of commission and this is not for the sake of praise, it’s to make a very valid point.)
Personality
We had met no unpleasant people, but some just seemed to try too hard to be nice, with long, drawn out stories of how they had been like some sort of extended family to their clients. Some we couldn’t get rid of because they seemed desperate to prove that they were ultra friendly and chatty. But it was too much. It felt like when you are at a supermarket check out, and you are asked ‘what have you been up to today sir?’ You can tell that this is part of a script and to be honest, I can’t be arsed to tell this person- lovely as they may be-what I have been up to. It’s irrelevant. I know this because I heard them say it to the previous person in the queue, and I’m pretty sure that they weren’t friends. (Also, I feel like I then have to be fake-interested back and asked them what they have been up to and before we know it a whole conversation is under way, with neither of us caring at all what the other has ‘been up to.’) What’s wrong with a nice smile and ‘Hello’.
Anyway, the point is that Leigh was just genuine, friendly and to the point. And very importantly, enthusiastically responsive to our constant questions.
Empathy
A massive one this. There was a lot of talk about us. How we would feel and that we would be kept constantly updated on progress. We have two young children and it mattered that our feelings and practicality of living was talked about without any instigation from us.
Presentation of the quote 
The quotes we got were sometimes just verbal, one was hand written, some we didn’t get until late and some we didn’t get at all. Leigh’s was thorough, printed on headed paper and  understandable i.e. It had been put together with effort. It looked quite nice (not over the top), which shouldn’t matter, but when someone is altering your home and they care about the look of the finished project, subconsciously it goes in.
You will notice from the above points that there are no mentions of price and testimonials, usually vital if budget is an important factor, and in this case it is. Leigh only provided us with one testimonial which was a very different job from ours. He had been working for a larger company until relatively recently and therefore didn’t have a great deal to provide us with. His was in no way the cheapest quote or the most expensive.
Basically all of the positive points were working on a non-tangible, emotional level. Even the presentation of the quote. It felt like he gave a shit about all aspects of the job. More importantly, he seemed to care about us.
So what’s the point? Well, for those of us who provide a service it’s a massive one. We can all tell people that we are the best, but then we would say that wouldn’t we. I think that if we have faith in ourselves and our service or art, and communicate passion and empathy, this will be far more effective than any scripted sales pitch. Even if we are not self-employed, if we can communicate a passion for what we do, this is contagious and will make us indispensable.
But on a deeper level it demonstrates the power of empathy, of seeing the world through the eyes of someone else. We responded to the emphasis on the experience we would go through. When communicating with anybody, it can be all too easy to get caught up with ourselves and what we are doing or experiencing. How we are being effected by the relationships and events in our lives or what we can offer our prospective clients. I believe it can make a huge difference if we stop and make a conscious effort to see out of the eyes of others. In our society, sometimes we underestimate the power of effective communication. We look at practicalities and tangible factors when we should sometimes just go with a feeling, because if those feelings don’t go away there is usually a very practical reason, albeit subconscious. Think about it, we parted with pretty much our entire life-savings on a primal emotion, trust.
By the way, we are on week five and the work is astonishing. Nobody can believe how hard these guys work and if it had gone on for 14 weeks plus, it would be very, very difficult. I think we made the right decision. In eight week my house will be a home again. Hooray!
Leigh’s company is Oakliegh homes http://www.oakleighhomes.com/
Again, no commission, he doesn’t even know I’m writing this.
Have a great day and thanks for reading.
Steve
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