Word of mouth is the way I get my next job.
After finishing a basement remodel and some cabinetry work here in Darien, CT. I was called out to Bronxville, NY to build some cabinets for a friend of the clients who noticed my last job.
On certain projects I work with a Contractor, Designer and an Architect. Most often I visit a home and meet with the residents myself, to inspect the location and discuss their desires and the possibilities.
I take that information home, draw up a picture and send it to the client with a price.
For this project I gave two layouts and a few options. The clients chose to eliminate a radiator and build a window seat alongside the bookshelves they required. I built up the boxes in my shop and made certain I had all the pieces before making the long drive toward the city for the installation.
Here is one of countless jobs where almost everything was perfect. What I mean is, I effected a beautiful home improvement that will last for decades. I found the original crown and it tied-in perfectly. The edges matched the mantel. The dimensions were ideal and the clients were ecstatic when they saw their new cabinets. That is, until the husband opened the media drawers and found they didn’t open ‘all the way’ (They were not full-extension drawer slides.)
Remember when I said that I deliver the proposed plans and then we discuss possibilities. Not atypically, it’s how is it possible to make alterations to the price and I do what I can to accomplish everyone’s goals. In this case I was able to shave off $80 dollars by changing from decent hardware to slides that cost $4 each. Even though this change was documented and discussed before the downgrade the client later said “If I knew it meant losing that 4″ of space on each drawer I would have paid the $80.”
I’ve learned that being careful pays but being cheap can sometimes cost you so much more.
To replace them with full-extension hardware would now cost $100 in hardware, 2 hours labor and about 4 hours of driving. How much would you charge? He lived with it and I went away feeling I didn’t do a perfect job. Since this is a backdated post to the time when the job was completed, now five years later, I can see how nice these cabinets really are.
Not to make this entry too long but on every job we learn something. After this project I made several changes to my policies including covering expenses for travel or not accepting work at such a distance and I no longer option cheap hardware. Today, my prices are super-reasonable and nearly double what I charged these folks back in 2003.
I was called by a friend of this client, years later, for a similar task. After explaining there would be a fee for my plan drawings after a visit their NY home they lost interest in my attention and I… breathed a sigh of relief.