Recently, I hired a company to do a specific job at my house. It seemed like an easy enough task. Come over, do the job, I pay you, everyone’s happy.
But that’s not what happened. I spent most of my time just trying to get the company out to my house. Call after call asking, “Sooooo, now when are you coming?” When I finally got them out there, it took about two weeks longer than we had anticipated. The main reason? They didn’t bring enough material. How is that possible? You do one job supposedly all the time for many years. Surely you can anticipate what’s needed material-wise.
I found myself having to be the “jerk.” Meaning I constantly had to call them and ask when they were going to start. After they actually started, I had to constantly call them to ask when they were going to finish. With each call, I felt the “jerk” factor increase. But the truth is, I just wanted what I expected.
Now there’s a funny word. Expected. Webster’s says, “To consider reasonable, due or necessary <expected hard work from the students>.” In my mind, what I expected was not only reasonable and necessary, but also due since I was paying for it. But I never communicated my expectations to the company doing the work, so I appeared overly demanding when things weren’t getting done the way I thought they should be.
When I stepped back from the situation, I realized that I could have avoided being the “jerk” if I had done a few simple things:
- Put Expectations In Writing – Start date and time, materials required, costs, end date, etc. What recourse do you have if they do not meet the deadlines? Both parties need to sign this agreement.
- Call Ahead – A few days before the start date, confirm that everything is in order. I know, I know, you’re thinking, Why should I be doing this? I’m paying them! The reason is simple. Not everyone is going to necessarily follow through like you would. Therefore, as I always tell my team, sometimes you have to push someone else to do their work, to get what you want done.
- Use An HR Technique – Rick Perry is our outstanding HR director, and he has a great way of making a person aware that they are not delivering on their promises. He reminds them that their action (or inaction) is their decision. In other words, if someone promises to start a job on Monday (and you have that expectation in writing), and they don’t, you can then say to them, “I just need to remind you that you promised you would start the job on Monday. Since you did not, I have to refer back to the recourse that you put in place.”
When you do these three things, not only do you remove the “jerk” factor, but you also give yourself the power to get the company back on track. When you remind them of their promises, they have no choice but to agree. Now, if integrity on their part doesn’t kick in after that, cut ’em loose!
Have you ever experienced broken promises like this? How did you handle it?