Uncomfortable Phone Calls

The Phone rings. It’s a customer whom you did a floor for a few months ago. And you get that queasy feeling. Most of the time a call from an old customer is nothing serious.

He may want to ask you something. Or maybe tell you that he’s passed your contact details to someone else. Or they want you to come by as there is more work to be done!

But every once in a while, the call is not so pleasant.. Remember that floor we did? Well yeah we’ve run into some problems. Let’s just say its cracking and peeling and in some places… or many places

All flooring contractors have received those calls at some point in their career. If it hasn’t happened yet it means that you have not been in business long enough.

Luckily I haven’t been getting those types of calls that much anymore. Years of experience have taught me to introduce measures to eliminate possibilities of something wrong. But also, I have acquired the wisdom to avoid “problem projects” from the get go.

But recently I got one of those calls again. For a project that I believed was doable. And then having to deal with the uncomfortable task of visiting your customer, seeing the problem and proposing what (if) you can do anything about it.

How you behave from this point forward will determine if you are a serious professional with skin in the game or just an amateur looking for a quick buck.

It is easy to find an excuse about why the floor failed. Blame the substrate, the weather, the workers, poor maintenance, the manufacturer of the product, could have never seen that humidity coming… And sometimes these excuses can be perfectly plausible. Sometimes it may not be entirely your fault.

Recent epoxy floor I saw in a Supermarket

Our industry can be very masculine and macho, and no-one likes to show weakness and failure. But you need to accept your share of the responsibility. You chose the workers. You went ahead with the products. You assessed the conditions and said let’s do it. All too many times I see contractors bail. Sorry its not my fault I’m outta here. You need to have the courage to face the problem and propose a solution that could cost you money.

In fact I notice that usually the contractors that disappear are the guys that tried to undercharge every competitor and offer the cheapest price. But when you price the project at a low margin two things happen:

– You will cut corners on the quality of the work by saving on product and labour. (let’s add a little bit of extra solvent, shall we?) This will automatically increase the risk of the floor failing and having future problems

– At a low price you have not put aside some margin for contingencies. Which means if you run into problems later, you either lose money or disappear. (And in several cases you go out of business)

So as I close this article, I want to urge you: Show some courage. Don’t bail on the customer. Embrace that phone call. Talk to your customer, and accept your share of responsibility. Remember every failure should be treated as a lesson to become a better contractor. A lesson to make you a better professional. And yes,  you may end up need to offer a solution that will come out of your own pocket.

So please leave me your comments: How do you deal with these “uncomfortable phone calls”?


(If you are looking to improve your skills on epoxy flooring, you should join our online training course!)

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Akis Apostolopoulos

General Manager at Ktisis
Akis has been involved in the manufacturing and application of industrial floor coatings for the past ten years. He runs learncoatings which is an online resource training professionals on the use of epoxy floors. He is also General Manager of Ktisis, a manufacturer of flooring and waterproofing coatings.

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