Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

There is no such thing as a small customer

We're in the middle of updating our kitchen - far from a full remodeling, but new countertops, a new sink, new wallpaper and a tile backsplash - that type of thing.  Now that we have these nice new countertops, we want to get the microwave off of it, and my wife came up with the great idea of putting it in the pantry.  The only problem is that our pantry currently has those off-the-shelf, not-really-sturdy-enough, builder's special wire shelves.  So, we started looking around for someone who could give us a bid on putting some shelves into the pantry.  And this isn't a big pantry - around 48" wide, 18" deep (basically double-door width).

My wife called a few people to come out and give us a bid.  Wendy was the first person to come out - seemed pretty responsive in setting up the appointment.  And she came out, looked around, took some measurements (ostensibly), made some suggestions, and told us she'd have to e-mail us a diagram and an estimate.  The next day we got the estimate, but no diagram.  She spent maybe 15-30 minutes with us.

A few days later we had someone from California Closets come out.  A world of difference.  He spent an hour and a half.  He gave us a diagram and estimate on the spot.  He not only measured the pantry, but pointed out that the place that we had wanted to put the microwave (that Wendy had said would be fine), would have resulted in us either not being able to open the microwave door, or not being able to reach the keypad.  He actually had us run the microwave for a few minutes to double-check that it wasn't giving off any heat, as that would have effected his suggestions, as well.  He came up with creative ideas for dealing with some of the items (like our mixer) that we had just assumed would continue to sit on the floor.  He managed to work an extra shelf in.  And, when he took measurements, we discovered that some of Wendy's measurements had been wrong.  

And here's the thing.  His bid was higher (not enormously, but not an insignificant amount, either) than Wendy's, and we're probably going to go with him anyway.  Wendy treated us like we were a small customer - and to be fair a 48" pantry is a pretty small job.  But guess what - we've got a whole house full of closets.  And while we might not be tearing out any of the other wire shelves and racks right now, there's no telling what we might decide to do in the future.  In fact, after he was done in the Pantry, my wife had the guy from California Closets look at what it would take to put in two shelves in our laundry room (another really small job, but it's a start).  What we do know is there's one person we won't be calling for any future bids.


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