The Repair Guy & The Flooring Guy The Cost to your Business

April 1, 2015

It began simply. The laundry washer breaks down and a repair company is called to fix it.

Quite simple.

However, the repair guy forgot to secure the waste pipe and so when the washer was turned on water poured out for hours before it was detected.  Now the repair guy had to come back and of course now there needs to be repairs, carpet cleaning, drywall replacement etc etc AND not just in the apartment but the apartment below! You know how this goes, a lot of work and a lot of money. All for a simple repair and so a small profit for the repair becomes a significant loss. All because of not securing the waste pipe correctly! There is a lesson here in Quality. The value of a checklist perhaps.

But that is not the story. The real story is how it gets worse.

Day 1 Carpet Guy

The carpet guy was supposed to arrive at 8:30am, by 8:45am the homeowner called to ask when he would arrive. They have taken time off work to be there, we were booked for today at 8:30am, did we make a mistake? No the company  says, he is coming today, we are just not sure when, but he will be here today, should be.

He finally arrives at 9:30am. He walks through the home and says needs to go back to the shop to get glue.

When he comes back he sits smoking in the van for a while. When he finally comes into the apartment he and says needs to use the WC, goes in with newspaper. Its going to take a while.

He comes out and says it’s time for the morning tea break.

Work eventually starts at 11am.

Day 2

8:00am the homeowner calls the carpet company to ask if they would call them before the carpet guy leaves the shop so they know when he is arriving. Just so they can plan their day.

8:30am they call the company again. The company says he hasn’t left yet.

8:32am The homeowners notice the van is parked outside. They look outside and it turns out he was standing outside waiting to be beeped in, despite not having rang the bell.

8:45am They call the company, never mind he has arrived, they respond with, ‘oh good.’

The carpet guy walks through the home again and says he needs tools back in the truck.

9:30am Work starts for the day.

10:00am The homeowner notices the front door is open, the carpet guy is gone, the tools are gone, the van gone. …… nothing said to customer who is still in the home!.........No calls nothing.   They call the company, they have no idea.

Day 3

8:30am The carpet guy returns and says he has finished the job. But trim has not been replaced, joints are not secured………………………….

They called the Flooring Company manager in frustration, but the manager couldn’t understand the problem.

The Repair company said, ah well it happens.

What are the lessons here?

The washer repair company had to pay for the carpet replacement and other clean up and repairs. Since they didn’t see a problem, no lesson was learnt here it’s only a matter of time before it happens again and perhaps again. A simple checklist would help prevent this in the future! But the lesson to the repair guy is, just keep doing what you are doing. What happened to the carpet company profit margin on this job? The owner of the apartment building (one of just a few he owns) decides never to use this company again.

The Carpet Company got a VERY bad Better Business Bureau review from the homeowner and the rental company will never use them again either, as one of their regular trades. Since they don’t see a problem this will continue to be how the carpet company runs its business. 

The amount of time to do the job (wages, van, gas) cost way more that it should have and this would seem to be the usual way they do work.

So both companies take a loss instead of a profit AND they just lost a regular client. Not only is there a lack of motivation but also a huge disconnect between management and the workforce and a complete disregard for the customer.

This sort of terrible service is still out there! The real lesson here involves ensuring that such things never happen in your business!

How does your service team make your company look to the eyes of the customer? 

Is the service your subcontractors provide live up to your company brand/reputation? 

Do you have both a corrective and preventive action procedure in your company?


Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.