By Roger Magalhaes
Most people (myself included) are not big fans of paying insurance premiums. If you add up the amount you have paid for insurance over the years, it will probably shock you. But on the rare occasion that something goes wrong, you are glad that you did. The peace of mind of knowing you are protected is priceless.
When it comes to hiring an installer to double-check measurements for a project, very few people see value in doing it. I hear very often from decorators, designers, contractors and even dealers, “I know what I am doing” or “I have been doing this for so many years.” And yet, as an independent installer, I have seen the same mistakes over and over again when I arrive at the installations. There are mismeasures, incorrect applications, the wrong products ordered and a lack of necessary parts, just to name a few problems.
To illustrate my point, I am going to share a story from my second year in business. My client was a professional carpenter who was remodeling his own home. He bought vertical blinds from a factory-direct outlet. When the product arrived, he contacted me to schedule the installation. I asked who had measured his windows and he said, “I did. I am a carpenter. I know how to read a tape measure.” My reply was, “Well, there is more than a width and a height involved when specifying window treatments. If I arrive to the site and I am not able to install the blinds, you still owe me for my visit.”
Sure enough, none of his eight blinds fit. To make a long story short, the windows were not deep enough to accommodate the product. On top of that, the valance did not have the right projection. This guy was extremely angry and the whole situation was uncomfortable. Yet he had to pay for my time.
Another example came from one of my regular installation accounts. I had this decorator who insisted on ordering products without a second visit from the installer to confirm sizes. She used to say that it would slow down the process and give homeowners a chance to change their mind about the sale. I sort of relate to her point. However, if she had “upsold” having an installer confirm the dimensions, she could have avoided many mistakes. There were problems so often that this particular account decided to make a remeasure visit mandatory for every sale.
My point is this: A remeasure visit should be seen as an insurance policy. When you pay for the installer to confirm the dimensions, you are paying for his or her knowledge and a second set of eyes on the project. When you are selling the job, your focus is on the sale, the colors, the product, the overall project. The homeowner is there with you. Everyone is excited, chatty and less likely to focus on specific details. There is a great chance that something will be missed if you are trying to gather every piece of information that day.
If you send the installer to confirm sizes on another day, his or her job is to take measurements and check for things like woodwork projections, chair rails, baseboards, crown moldings, window depths and access to the units. There is a good chance that the homeowner won’t even be present. The installer won’t have the pressure of having the homeowner around. His or her experience may even suggest a different type of solution for the project. You are paying an insurance policy to protect you and your project.
Here’s the bottom line: Implementing a remeasure visit (whether with an installer or even doing it yourself) as part of your projects may slow down the sales process a bit and could even turn off some clients. But dealing with unnecessary errors, costly mistakes, frustrated clients and risks to your reputation are far worse. If you sell the remeasure visit as part of the experience of buying custom treatments, I guarantee you will have many more happy clients, less remakes at the shop and more money in the bank. That is peace of mind.
Roger Magalhaes is the owner of Shades In Place, Inc. in the Boston area. He has received formal training and certifications from many of the country’s most respected vendors such as Somfy, Hunter Douglas, Norman Shutters and Lutron. He also attended the Custom Home Furnishings Academy for formal installation training focusing on drapery and other soft treatments. Roger is the founder of the Facebook group Free Speech Window Covering Pros and the Installation Instructor for the Window Fashion Certified Professional FastTrack program.
Join Roger for the workshops “Installation 101” and “The Installer’s Toolbox” at the International Window Coverings Expo, March 25 to 27 in Charlotte.