A Good Experience
My wife, Nina, and I recently had the wonderful experience of spending 2-1/2 weeks in New Zealand. It was a good trip, partly because Nina is a very good travel planner and had put together an itinerary that had us in 11 accommodations in 19 days. She did a ton of research. I drove 2000 miles on the left side of the road. On the trip we met many fine folks and saw incredible scenery. And on and on.
Toward the end of our trip we were in the lower part of the south island. We were staying in Te Anu, from where we were going to travel to Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a fjord that opens to the Tasman Sea. We were told it had dramatic vistas and that the ride there was a bit exciting.
We had done some “exciting” driving throughout the trip (ask Nina about the Whanganui River Road) so the prospect of more did not seem too daunting. However, it was three hours of driving to where the boat we were to get on was located, two hours of touring Milford Sound on the boat, and then 2-1/2 hours back. To really enjoy what there was to see on the drive it did make sense to take a coach (bus) instead of driving. So we did.
When we got on the coach, our driver, Adele, modeled behavior that reminded me of what a good remodeler does with her clients before and during the project. Here is some of what Adele did:
Set Clear Expectations
Early in our trip Adele introduced herself and laid out some ground rules. There were a number of places we could stop but the actual amount of the stops was dependent on how long it took for everyone to get off, walk around, and then get back on the coach at the early stops. So she set us up as her partners in how well the journey would go.
Remodelers often do not set clear expectations. And even when they do a remodeler often does not have the client take on enough responsibility for making the project a success. What Adele did made the whole experience better for her and for all of the passengers.
Remind Everyone about the Expectations
Several times throughout the trip Adele would set us up for what was going to happen at the next stop and what we needed to do when we returned to the coach. Doing it more than once and making everything appropriate to where we were in the journey made it harder for people who don’t pay attention — like me — to hear what she was communicating.
When a remodeling project has started, and the remodeler and her staff have already reviewed expectations with the client, there is the tendency for those interacting with the client to think, “Oh, they must know everything so we don’t have to repeat any of what we told them.” Wrong. Life happens and your clients are so distracted by other things. Do remind your clients of the expectations, modified to fit the current status of the project. They will love you for doing so.
When the Clients Screw Up, Just Roll With it
Before we got off the coach to get on the boat Adele set us up for getting back to and on the bus after the boat ride. She pointed out all the cars and other coaches in the parking lot and said we would be able to make our return journey much faster if we were able to leave before all those folks did. So the goal was to get right on the coach when we got off the boat.
The way it played out was the boat ride took longer. It did because we saw dolphins on the trip in and the trip back, which the boat captain stayed with as long as he could so we could take photos and enjoy the site.
When the bus actually took off we were behind two coaches and a couple of MRBs (“mobile road blocks”, in Adele-speak, otherwise known as tourist-driven-rental-cars). The upshot was the trip took longer.
However, Adele never complained to us. She just dealt with it. Keep in mind that before the bus had arrived in Te Anu that morning, Adele had started off from Queenstown, two hours away. And she was to continue back to Queenstown after dropping us off in Te Anu. And she was going to do all this the next day — and so on.
Remodelers often make plans that depend on the behavior of others, like their clients. When clients’ behavior does not go the way you want it to, it is imperative that you don’t blame them and just carry on with your head up, dealing with things the way they are, not the way you wish they were.
It Was A Great Trip
We did have a fantastic ride on the coach. It had a glass ceiling and the views during the ride were stunning. I would have been frustrated if I had driven. And it was finally good to simply be able to enjoy the ride.
Adele took a lot off my back. Think about how you can do that for your clients and turn the chore of getting a remodeling project done together into a good experience for everyone.