Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ranking the renovators

This Saturday the new front door gets installed.  That will complete the renovations we undertook on our new home.  We learned a lot during this process, it being our second major reno in the past three years (and our last if I have any say!)

Thought it would be useful to share our perspective on some of the trades we worked with because whenever we set out on one of these voyages we make it our first step to get recommendations and referrals.  So from great to abysmal, here's the report (and, interestingly the entire experience points out a fundamental of brand management - in the absence of transparent communication and even rudimentary levels of customer service, the greatest product in the world will not save a reputation.  Indeed, it makes the case more strongly than ever that a company's stories are even more important than their product).

A+++++:  McConnell Painting - Dave McConnell and his trusty sidekick Colin were the true stars and wizards of this entire undertaking.  They painted both the interior and exterior and were without exception the most meticulous, respectful, helpful and professional people with whom we worked.  Couldn't recommend them more highly.  416.827-6186

A++: Sotheby's International Realty Canada - Daniel Wilson and the entire team handled both ends of our sale and purchase.  They were patient, cooperative, collaborative, respectful and provided great advice through some trying times.  905.845.8908 

A+: Antique Hardwood Flooring Inc. - A terrific crew who installed with painstaking care to detail, on time and on budget with great pre-sale advice, post-sale followup, and enthusiastic cooperation within a tight deadline.  905.825.8551

A: Speers Road Broadloom - Again, on time, on budget, very tidy and offered good advice on product selection (with some prompting).  905.844.0712

B+:  Binn's Kitchen and Bath Design - This group was responsible for the entire design of the new kitchen and all installation (with exception of most major appliances).  Downgraded from an A-rating for a couple of reasons:  a few design details weren't entirely well thought out and so the final result is just short of perfection; some of the trades with whom they subcontract were less than top-notch from a service attitude perspective - most notably the plumber who could not have been more cynical or shiftless.  905.509.5555

B:  Joshua Creek Trading Furniture and Home Decor - We purchased a few pieces of furniture and some accessories here and we're pleased.  They proved very cooperative even going so far as to loan us a chair so we could comfortably feed our baby.  That's above and beyond.  Some deliveries took longer than we were advised and that's kind of disappointing when you're working to a stupidly tight schedule.  905.842.3739

C: Tasco (Mississauga location) - Maybe my expectations are too high but when you're spending a handsome amount of coin on Wolf, AEG, and Electrolux Icon appliances you expect a level of service and cooperation commensurate with the expenditure.  What you don't expect is being lectured by a store manager on how you as a customer should behave.  One doesn't expect (although it now seems rampant in the service industry) to be given lip service about deadlines.  I would so much rather deal with someone who under promises and over delivers that someone who spouts bollocks in the hopes that if they say what they think you want to hear all will be well.  Steer clear is my recommendation but they do carry top-end stuff.  Not gonna bother with the phone number.

F: Ridley Windows and Doors - Some day I will write a longer piece about this experience which will revolve around how a company with superior product and fair pricing can be brought to its knees in three simple steps:  1. fail to communicate regularly and with transparency; 2. align with unreliable, sloppy and borderline incompetent installers; 3. promise a completion date of July 5 and actually finish the job, after hours of haranguing, on September 6.  A last-minute intervention by two senior people, including the President did mollify us somewhat but long after the horse had left the barn.

An update on Ridley:  today the door was installed.  The product is great.  The installers, Walter and Igor, were excellent and the result is superb.

There were some other trades involved but these are the major ones.  At the end of the day, my wife Kate who was general contractor, has a promising new career in front of her if she ever decides to make a shift.  What an awesome job to accomplish all she did in the space of a few months.

No comments: